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Auburn 33, Ole Miss 20

Hey everyone. Hope you enjoyed the game. Auburn fans surely are feeling much better about their ballclub this evening.

Chris Todd looked effective. The pass rush was aggressive. Eltoro Freeman was a swell run-stopped. Ole Miss converted only 3 of its 15 third-down situations.

Not too shabby for a team not expected to win today.

Here's what Auburn is saying ...
  • Gene Chizik on his team: ``I can't give our football team enough credit. The question that everybody wanted to know was -- How is your football team going to respond in a tough time? I think today is a great example of the way they were going to respond. They willed that win. That was a very, very good football team that we beat tonight and our kids deserved it because they never quit fighting. It doesn't surprise anybody in our locker room. That's who they are. I thought tonight proved to a lot of people that we were going to contend and fight."

  • Ted Roof on how he's talked to his unit recently: ````You don't sugar coat it. You tell them the truth," Roof said. ``At the same time, when you lose, you also tell them what they did good. There’s some things they do good. It's hard not to get too low, because it just rips your guts out. I'm just proud of the way they responded."

  • Ben Tate on cracking the 1,000-yard barrier: ````That's good to surpass 1,000 yards. It's even better than I did it in a game that we won. I'm happy about that," he said. ``I want to congratulate my offensive line. Maybe I'll take them out or something like that."

  • Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt on Antonio Coleman: ``Coleman played on a whole different level today. He was on a different level that what we saw on film. We had a hard time with him, then we had to chip him a little bit. It takes away a receiver."

  • Players were told that Zac Etheridge's x-rays showed no structural damage. Several players said they were led to believe Etheridge would be discharged from East Alabama Medical Center on Sunday.

  • Walt McFadden ... telling it like it is: ``We needed this. Maybe some of us were feeling sorry for ourselves. Today they showed that we believe in each other, we know we can play. This is not last year. We're not fixin' to give up, we're not going to point fingers, we're not fixin' to say we need a new quarterback, we need a new running back, we're not fixin' to say anything. We're just going to go out every week and play how we always play."

OLE MISS at AUBURN, 2nd half

Hey everyone. Welcome to the second half of today's game.

  • Auburn first possession: PUNT.

  • Ole Miss first possession: PUNT.

  • Auburn second possession: TOUCHDOWN. Tommy Trott 13 pass from Kodi Burns. PAT kick good. Drive covered 61 yards in 3 plays.
      AUBURN 17, OLE MISS 7

  • Ole Miss second possession: INTERCEPTION RETURNED FOR TOUCHDOWN. Walt McFadden made it happen.
      AUBURN 24, OLE MISS 7

  • Ole Miss third possession: PUNT

  • Auburn third possession: TOUCHDOWN. Ben Tate 53 run. PAT kick good. Drive covered 67 yards in 3 plays.
      AUBURN 31, OLE MISS 7

  • Ole Miss fourth possession: KICKOFF RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN. Jesse Grandy 82 yards.
      AUBURN 31, OLE MISS 14

  • Auburn fourth possession: PUNT.

  • Ole Miss fifth possession: TOUCHDOWN. Dexter McCluster 79 yard run. PAT kick blocked.
      AUBURN 31, OLE MISS 20

  • AUBURN BONUS SCORE: Demond Washington returns PAT block for two points.
      AUBURN 33, OLE MISS 20

OLE MISS at AUBURN, 1st half

Welcome everyone to Jordan-Hare Stadium, where the Auburn University Tigers are playing host to the University of Mississippi Rebels. The game can be seen on the SEC Network. That means it's probably on one of the local networks in your area.

Auburn has made no changes to its depth chart.

  • Ole Miss first possession: TOUCHDOWN. Andy Hartmann 7 pass from Jevan Snead. PAT kick good. Drive covered 94 yards in 10 plays.
      OLE MISS 7, AUBURN 0

  • Auburn first possession: FIELD GOAL. Wes Byrum 36 FG. Drive covered 41 yards in 6 plays.
      OLE MISS 7, AUBURN 3

  • Ole Miss second possession: PUNT. Auburn missed a pair of prime interception situations ... one by Neiko Thorpe, one by Joshua Bynes.

  • Auburn second possession: TURNOVER ON DOWNS. Auburn faced a 3rd-and-1 ... and couldn't get the single yards. I don't understand why Auburn would run from a shotgun formation on 4th-and-1. Maybe you understand.

  • Ole Miss third possession: MISSED FG.

  • Auburn third possession: PUNT. Penalty on first down, dropped pass on second down.

  • Ole Miss fourth possession: TURNOVER ON DOWNS. Ole Miss went for it on 4th-and-6 ... and Snead was sacked for an 11-yard loss. Oops.

  • Auburn fourth possession: PUNT. Not much going on there.

  • Ole Miss fifth possession: PUNT.

  • Auburn fifth possession: TOUCHDOWN. Darvin Adams 28 pass from Chris Todd. PAT kick good. Drive covered 90 yards in 6 plays.
      AUBURN 10, OLE MISS 7

  • Ole Miss sixth possession: TURNOVER ON DOWNS. The half was about to end anyway.


Happy Halloween from the HABOTN

Since we'll be doing game stuff tomorrow, here is JAN TERRI's amazing tribute to All Hallow's Eve.

Please enjoy.

We have no reason to believe beat hacks were harmed during production of this video.


All we have are the embers

Hey everyone. We held a 90-minute campfire on Thursday night. It was fun. We talked about stuff. We joked. Some people made fun of Terry Bowden.

Thanks to Eddie, Missinit, Digger, Jet, WilsonsTailgate, Z4Z, WTC, freep, MJT, Kathy and AUmike for checking in early and staying late.

I will be Hatin' With Jay G., since I'm Jay G., at 9:05 a.m. CDT on Friday.

Yes, the show is streamed across the Intertubes.

Giving Ole Miss a perspective

Parrish Alford, a Friend of The HABOTN who covers Ole Miss for the Tupelo newspaper, asked me to answer a few questions for his blog's enthusiasts.

I figured ... maybe the HOTTIES have some interest in what they find notable and how I answered their questions.

Q: Houston Nutt has downplayed his past with Gus Malzahn, but is this one pretty emotional for Gus?

A: I don't think Malzahn gets emotional about that kind of stuff. Is he a fan of Houston Nutt? Absolutely not. Malzahn wasn't running Arkansas offense during the second half of 2006, people know that, and that season was a pretty bitter pill for a college neophyte to swallow. Malzahn will be motivated this weekend, but I don't think it's because of Nutt. It's because Auburn's offense has been decaying of late and his reputation is at stake.

Q: Has the SEC schedule been the primary factor in Auburn's decreased scoring through the last four games, or are there more issues in play?

A: I think schedule is the primary reason. Auburn's schedule is nearly a seamless hierarchy -- with easy games early and the toughest (Alabama) at the end. These SEC teams employ shrewd defensive coordinators and use fast players on defense. That combination is taxing Malzahn from an intellectual standpoint -- and he doesn't have enough talent/speed to simply overpower people. That's why Auburn is struggling. Players and coaches keep talking about "execution." While that's been an issue, I don't think it's the primary issue.

Q: I've heard it speculated that there will be lean times ahead for Auburn, because Nick Saban will get all the recruits he wants in Tuscaloosa. What's your take on that theory?

A: Auburn has competed for decades -- and occasionally dominated -- by signing a relatively small percentage of Alabama-based players. Unlike his predecessor, Gene Chizik has elected to challenge Alabama for several in-state kids this year. Will it work? We'll find out in early February. Still, most of the Tigers' most coveted recruits are from other states. I don't expect Auburn's overall recruiting effort to slide backward under Chizik's watch.

Q: Ole Miss has been pretty good at disrupting passing quarterbacks this season. What's pass protection been like for Auburn?

A: Auburn exhibited excellent pass protection through the first seven games, allowing five sacks during that span. LSU sacked Chris Todd four times last weekend. I tend to think the Tigers will struggle against Ole Miss' front seven, which I judge to be quite good.

Q: Tracy Rocker was highly regarded for his ability as a defensive line coach while with Nutt for six seasons. How has Auburn played defensively this season across the board, but specifically along the defensive line?

A: Auburn is undermanned at tackle. That's just how it is. There isn't much depth and the guys Rocker plays aren't special. Antonio Coleman, the team's franchise defender, hasn't affected games as everyone expected. Is that regression on Coleman's part or is that a result of Ted Roof's remarkably basic system? Auburn has no depth. It generally plays with no reserves at linebacker or safety. One reserve cornerback is available. Roof plays conservatively as a result. It's a pretty lackluster enterprise right now, though I think it will improve quickly once new signees infuse more depth and speed.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

XBox Live embraces the Tigers

Hey everyone. XBox Live now features (premium) Auburn gear for your avatars.

I know this post doesn't have widespread appeal, but I thought it was notable nonetheless. XBox gamers now can dress their virtual selves like Mario Fannin ... with the Auburn letter jacket.

(Nevermind that the colors are reversed.)

Malzahn + Nutt doesn't equal BFF

Hey everyone. Sorry for getting a very late start today. So it goes.

Here is another dose of information for your noggin, which surely is overloaded with talk about execution, injuries being ``day-by-day" (even a torn Achilles tendon) and how one missed block can ruin an entire season.

I promise to not mention -- or let anyone else mention -- those topics below.

  • Browsing through a transcription of Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt's weekly press conference produced some goodies. Recall that Nutt, while coach at Arkansas in 2006, hired Malzahn out of a nearby high school and installed him as the Razorbacks' offensive coordinator. He stayed for one season.

  • Nutt on how Gus Malzahn's offense has changed since those high school days: ``I think the biggest thing is that he saw the caliber of athletes each Saturday. He had a lot of mismatches in high school. When you get to the college level, you realize that there are two or three guys you are going to have to be concerned with because they are so athletic."

  • Malzahn indirectly disagreed, saying the only major difference between high school and college ball is recruiting. ``The football on the field -- very similar."

  • The two men haven't spoken since the Arkansas days.

  • Nutt's take: ``We don’t talk very much. Everybody is so busy in college football. When you get into the season, you have a lot of things to worry about. You have all you can handle with the task at hand."

  • Malzahn's take: "I haven't gotten a chance to visit with him since then but he gave me an opportunity to get in the college game."

  • Malzahn on what changes now that Nutt, former ally, will be his foe Saturday: ``Anytime you work with someone, you get both sides, you get to know each other and what each other likes and all that. It's part of the game. There's a lot of coaches that worked together that end up playing each other. You've got to just be aware of all the variables and think what they're thinking."

Video for your brain

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Late updates, 10/27

Hey everyone. We only got a few players today, but The Bull was one of them. It's been a while since we have spoken with Eltoro Freeman ... but he certainly didn't disappoint.

  • He took the Arkansas week off at Gene Chizik's behest.

  • He had grown increasingly frustrated by falling short of expectations -- from both internal and external sources.

  • ``I felt like I was letting myself down, my fans down, my teammates
    down. They were really looking forward to me coming in and making an
    impact and I felt like I wasn't doing that. That was just really
    frustrating for me."

  • On when he realized things were getting away from him: ``After the games watching film. When I'd go back and watch film, I'd say: That's not me at all. I can't even explain it. Things just weren't clicking for me."

  • That frustration sapped his love for the game.

  • The week off invigorated his exuberance.

  • On if he thought about leaving: ``I didn't even think about leaving. The program's too great to leave. We have great coaches. Great players. Everybody's great. Coach Chizik saw that I was really down. I was down coming to practice. I wasn't the same Eltoro. He told me to take a break, relax, regroup. That's what I did."

  • Walt McFadden is super tight with Patrick Trahan, the former Auburn linebacker who now plays at Ole Miss.

  • They were supposed to be roommates in 2008 and McFadden was complaining (with a smile) that Trahan stuck him with some extra rent after electing to leave. Trahan apparently didn't discuss his decision to leave with McFadden.

  • ``Actually, I'm still pretty upset with that because he left me with all the rent. And I had to pay a fine for that. Hopefully, I can try to get that back this weekend."

  • McFadden, asked about the circumstances surrounding Trahan's departure from Auburn, provided an interesting answer: ``He hates that he had to leave. He made a big mistake trying to lie his way out of things."

  • Hot Carter and McFadden have been friends since they were school-agers. Their dads worked together and remain close friends to this day.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

BLAWGIN' FOR YOUR NOGGIN: Gene Chizik speaks

Hey everyone. You know what's coming.

  • He has arrived.

  • ``It'll be a fun day and a very challenging weekend."

  • On Ole Miss: ``They're probably the most balanced team we've played to date. They're solid all the way around."

  • General comments: ``I'm really proud of this group. The mark of the men is coming out. They have been phenomenal. They really want to be a good football team. They've been excellent. Our seniors have really stepped up to the plate and are ready to move past next week and move on to the next game."

  • On offensive troubles: ``I don't think there's one thing you can pinpoint. It's everywhere. It's a little breakdown here and a little breakdown there. What seemingly would be little things are big things. We're not panicking by any stretch of the imagination. We have to get better at what we do. The level of competition has gone up. You can't just pin it on one guy."

    (BLOGGER'S NOTE: Actually, you can pin it on one guy if you'd like. It happens all the time. Ask Jim Zorn about it.)

  • On Hot Carter: ``You don't know until you're banging on those guys all night long. It's really good to see him being back close to what he was during the spring before the injury. We need him. With our situation at defensive end, the most depth we can build up, the better."

  • He admires Kodi Burns for playing after having two teeth knocked out. ``I talked to our team about that kind of courage and that mark of a man. He's special."

  • On not practicing Sunday: ``I thought it was great timing for us to say: Let's take time on the film. Let's take time on the mental part of the game. We took our time. I thought it would be better to have a mental day with film work from the game. The response was great."

  • Concerned about dissention?: "If there was any of that finger pointing going on, yeah. But they don't want to go through that again. You can choose to be different. There is absolutely zero of that (arguing) going on. They've chosen to go in another direction."

  • On the complexities of Chris Todd's job: ``People want to pin all the great stuff on the quarterback and all the bad stuff on the quarterback. That's at any level. This is the most widely recognized league in the country, so it magnifies that. That's what makes the league great. The positions comes with what it comes with. In Chris' case right now, I don't think he pays much attention to it. When it's 3rd-and-7 and he has five guys in his lap, that's not Chris Todd."

  • On reaffirming his commitment to Todd: ``He gives us the best chance to win. He needs to know that we have a vote of confidence in him. He knows that."

  • More on Todd's situation: ``Quarterback's got to be a tough-minded position. It all comes with the territory. If you're not mentally tough enough to get through those things, more than likely you don't need to be playing in this league. You get the good and you get the bad."

  • On Dex McCluster: "He is a very good player. Now it's not just Wildcat. It's not just receiver. He's your dotted-I tailback. He hits a crease and he's gone. That's something they're hitting on now. He plays at a whole different speed."

  • That's a wrap.

Nell Fortner speaks

Hey everyone. Nell is previewing her season.

  • Reneisha "ReRe" Hobbs has torn an ACL and is out for the season. She was projected starter at SF.

  • Morgan Jennings, the projected starter at PG, tore her ACL this summer and is out until at least January.

  • Morgan Tolles, the team's most-hyped freshman, will have to start at PG.

  • On how the injuries change the team's identity: ``We're still going to run as much as we can. We're going to have more of an inside presence. We'll have that opportunity this year. We'll still push the ball. We'll never get away from that totally."

  • On getting PF/C Jordan Greenleaf back from an ACL injury: "We missed her last year. She's such a smart player. She just has a presence about her."

  • On her expectation for Morgan Tolles: "To be as solid of a point guard as she can bem, not turn the ball over and run the team. We'll have to go through the experience of being a point guard at this level. She is a highly fit player. As long as she can progress, she'll see a lot of minutes on the floor."

  • She believes Mississippi State is the SEC's team to beat this season.

  • "You're looking at a team that's ready to prove themselves. Practice have been ... they've been going to incredibly hard. We've progressed quickly, but we still have a lot of inexperience on the floor. This is the hardest-working team I've had here at Auburn."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Kiffin gets a second spanking

Hey everyone. Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin again has drawn the ire of Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive, who today reprimanded the loquacious 34-year-old.

The rebuke comes because Kiffin complained after his team's 12-10 loss to Alabama last weekend. Immediately after blocking a field-goal attempt as time expired -- and with the game still in progress -- Alabama defensive lineman Terrance Cody removed his helmet to celebrate.

Kiffin argued that Cody should have been flagged for a personal foul. As a result, Tennessee, he agrued, should be allowed to attempt the kick again 15 yards closer to the uprights.

Charles Bloom, a top SEC official, said time had expired by the time Cody removed his helmet. The game had ended.

``I'm sure we'll get one of those letters that mean nothing, that Bobby (Petrino) got last week, but Florida and Alabama live on,'' he told reporters afterward.

Here it is:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Oct. 26, 2009) – Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive has issued a public reprimand to University of Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin for his public comments concerning officiating Sunday.

"Coach Kiffin has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics," Slive said. "SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from all public criticism of officials.”

``This is the second reprimand for Coach Kiffin in this calendar year. Coach Kiffin is on notice that for any further violations of SEC policies will subject him to additional penalties including suspension.”

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Players speak, 10/25

Hey everyone. We were given access to a slightly unusual array of players ... including Neil Caudle, the injured Onterio McCalebb and Antonio Coleman.

Here's an overview:

  • Auburn didn't practice today, which is unusual. They attended film study and held a team meeting. I believe there also was a players-only meeting as well, but players weren't talking much about that.

  • Antonio Coleman on not practicing: ``It was a good thing in the sense that we watched film, sat down and saw all the mistakes we made and how the correct those. We had a lot of time and need to watch film."

  • Still, I didn't get the sense Coleman was thrilled to have been held off the practice field. ``We're beat up. We're banged up defensively. We don't have that much depth. Today helped us and tomorrow is going to help us. I would have been fine practicing today -- even with a banged-up knee. I don't care. That's the type of guy I am. That's how our whole defense feels. We have to go out and get better."

  • Defensive coordinator Ted Roof presented this nugget: LSU had five "big plays" worth an average of 32 yards per play ... and averaged three yards per play on the other 61 snaps.

  • Roof on that trend: ``It came back to big plays. Long runs. Couple of the pass plays where we were in good position but just didn't make the play on the ball. It was big plays."

  • Chris Todd said he's still trying to get better: ``Anytime things happen, as a quarterback, you have to take that on your shoulders and take some blame when things are going bad. When things are good you get some credit for some stuff, and when things are bad, you take that too. But I'm definitely working myself and trying to improve things that will help us move on and win some ballgames."

  • Onterio McCalebb said he's OK running to his right ... but the left is a little tougher: ``I can still run on my ankle, it feels good, it's just like when I'm running to the left it kind of hurts a little bit. I can cut. When I run to the right side I'm all good. It's just when I run to the left and try to get to the corner it slows me down. I just put my leg up a little bit and try to get rolling."

  • Neil Caudle is getting caught up in the possible quarterback quandary: ``We’re handling it the right way. We believe in Chris. We believe he’s a good player. He’s showed that numerous times. Things aren’t clicking on offense right now but we’re going to get it fixed and we know Chris is going to do a good job for us."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Gene Chizik speaks, 10/25

Hey peeps. Let's get to business.
  • On the quarterback situation: ``We're not going to make a change this week. After going back and looking at it, obviously we would have loved for the offensive production to be better than it was. We're in the month of October. We knew it was going to be a tough month. We're to that point where we've got to execute better. Chris had a lot of pressure on him last night. We still think Chris gives us the best chance to win. It's not that our offense has not done it. We have. We're against competition in this league that's at a higher level."

  • On if defenses are catching on to Gus Malzahn's stuff: ``When you get to game 7, 8, 9 in the year, they've got all your films. Everybody has a really good idea of what everybody is doing. People have a better idea of what we're doing. It still comes down to execution."

  • ``There are 1-on-1s at different places where we're losing the battles -- and we need to win those battles."

  • On Kodi Burns: ``Kodi got whacked pretty good early, had a couple teeth knocked out. He had to have his lip sewed up. He went out there and continued to play for three more quarters."

  • On the final scoring drive: ``I was just glad to see our kids get in there and be determined to go down there and score. I took from it that we're going to keep fighting until the end."

  • On Eltoro Freeman: ``He was active. He did a lot of nice things. For really his first full start, where he played all the way through, I was proud that he was able to be as active as he was."

  • On Onterio McCalebb: ``We try to use him in the game some. He tries to make a cut and it hurts him. It has taken away a little bit from what we want to do."

  • On the run defense: ``As a whole, I think we did make some improvement. The one explosive play was the one odd ball of the night. That one particular run got away from us."

  • On Zac Etheridge's personal foul: ``It was basically illegal contact, meaning some type of helmet-to-helmet call."

  • On if that was a legit call: ``It was an aggressive hit. There's no question about that."

  • On allaying negativity: ``It's like anything -- it's what you choose to hear, what you choose to listen to, it's what you choose to watch. They've got to stay within the structure of our football team. Things you can't control -- you can't listen to that. I hope they weren't listening to it when we were 5-0. Now that we've dropped three and they choose to listen to it … I highly advise them to keep doing the things, to keep working to win."

  • On the unusual kickoffs and punts: ``We weren't kicking to No. 8 (Trindon Holliday). The intent was right. We needed to cover them better and needed to kick them better. "

  • On Iowa State's 9-7 at Nebraska, which makes the Cyclones 5-3: ``I'm really happy for them. That's great. Those are great kids and they deserve some good things to happen to them."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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