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Assessing the first half of spring ball

Hey everyone. So Auburn held its eighth spring practice (out of 15) on Monday morning, which means we're just a teency-weency bit past the half-way point.

Though I have only seen short portions of two practices, I nonetheless feel full qualified to make sweeping generalizations and other observations. If that bothers you, if you believe direct observation is critical to analysis, you're concurrently correct and welcome to end your relationship with this blog post right now.

Still on board? Good.

Several things have caught my eye so far. Some are "good" from an Auburn perspective. Some are "bad" from an Auburn perspective. That seems like an easy way to organize things.


  • Cam Newton: The scouting reports I hear vary from good to glowing, which is a little better than I expected. It's obvious that he can challenge a defense with his feet in a way Kodi Burns could not. Newton is faster, quicker and a better passer. Will be be a better overall quarterback than Chris Todd? I think so. Newton has better arm strength. I'll be watching Newton closely during the A-Day game to get a feel for the repeatability of his throwing motion and his accuracy. If those grade out well, Newton could be a star beginning ... now.

  • Onterio McCalebb's physical development: He has added 10 pounds since season's end. He won't soon be mistaken for Rudi Johnson or anything, but McCalebb (left) could be a franchise-type back if he can get to 195 pounds and retain that acceleration. He's still 15-20 pounds short of that threshold. I have knocked his durability in the past. You are correct. I didn't think he'd dedicate himself this doggedly toward adding bulk. Considering the other tailback options available right now, McCalebb will have a straightforward opportunity to become an All-SEC guy in 2010.

  • Emory Blake has a clue: He was an 18-year-old freshman last season and didn't earn enough playing time to truly shine during the season's second half. He could have. Blake is an intriguing mix of raw talent and intellectual refinement. I believe he'll emerge as that No. 3 wideout (barring injury) and looks like the next Courtney Taylor. Coaches are very high on the progress Blake has demonstrated since, say, October.

  • Ikeem Means' rise: You probably had no idea this kid was on the team until recently, which is entirely reasonable. The Wetumpka native was a true freshman in 2009 and participated almost exclusively on special teams. He's been given a shot at safety this spring and has moved into contention for a rotation spot this fall. Is he a star? Probably not. He's a walk-on with some talent and a hunger that drives him. He has a chance to become the next Adlai Trone, who walked on in 1998 and became a secondary staple in 2000 and 2001. This could be a great story -- and a great development for a team desperately seeking depth at safety.


  • Mike McNeil's leg: The Mobile native was a full-time starter in 2008. Things changed during the Tigers' first spring scrimmage of 2009 when he suffered a compound leg fracture. The injury still is giving him problems. Auburn is seeking qualified guys to start at safety and it's been assumed all along that McNeil would fill that role in 2010. Now I'm not so sure.

  • Has anyone seen Eric Smith?: Auburn isn't exactly bursting at the seams with depth at tailback right now. It's a perfect time for someone to establish themselves as the No. 1 guy going into two-a-days. One name I never hear is Eric Smith (right). I know he probably doesn't have the acceleration you'd expect from a featured back, but Smith has a remarkably diverse base of skills. He should be in the mix -- yet he isn't. All jokes about the SWAG Team and Fists of Fury aside, Smith is an intriguing talent. Can he get back in the coaches' good graces and become the impact player he should be?

  • More injuries for Bart Eddins and Philip Pierre-Louis: Eddins is expected to miss the rest of spring with another knee injury. Though this one isn't considered epically bad, it's still going to slow Eddins' development. He appears on the cusp of a starting job at left guard. I hate it for him. Same for PPL, who was carted off the field last weekend with what appeared to observers to be a serious knee injury. Doctors are expected to diagnose the injury today because swelling in the knee didn't subside quickly. PPL tore a knee ligament on the first play of his career in 2008, which robbed him of a full year of development. Coaches were impressed with his play of late ... and now this. There's a chance the injury won't require surgery, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

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


Blogger Seanzie said...

spring substance

2:18 PM  
Blogger Aubie said...


2:18 PM  
Blogger Norm said...


2:20 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

I love this line -
"... you're concurrently correct and welcome to end your relationship with this blog post right now."

2:21 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I like to be straight with everyone.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Wakeriderof87 said...

I like to be a little curvy.

2:26 PM  
Blogger wellsAU said...

Cam is the man. Mario has the potential to be the man too. Buck the haters like a bronco, Mario.

I will boldly predict 1400+ for Sir Fannin this fall. This year the offense destroys the records that were set last year.

2:35 PM  
Blogger michael said...

I am bothered by your sweeping generalizations.

2:41 PM  
Blogger wellsAU said...

Seanzie, how are you feeling?

For those out of the loop, Lionel Messi has scored a hat trick in the first half. Barca-3 Arses-1

2:46 PM  
Blogger FSJ said...

Ok...let's pick the SEC West this year...

I'll go first..

1) Alabama
2) Auburn/LSU (Tie)
4) Arkansas
5) Ole Miss
6) Miss. State

2:47 PM  
Blogger Seanzie said...

Not so good currently...trying to hold out hope for a 3-3 draw to advance.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Seanzie said...

Alabama are a bunch of nancies.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Shut up Bammer.

2:49 PM  
Blogger michael said...

This is exactly the way it will happen:

1) Auburn
2) LSU
3) Miss st
4) Ole Miss
5) Alabama
6) Arkansas

2:49 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Alabama would come in last, but the positive preseason press will be enough to force Petrino's boys to the cellar.

2:50 PM  
Blogger SteveFC said...

Great blog, Jay, although I think FAH is 175 now, not 185. I believe he was 165 at the end of last season.

The lack of mention of Eric Smith is troubling. I got the impression he was the type of player Malzahn wanted, versatile. It could be they have him as the 3rd or 4th RB, but I would also expect him to see him at h-back. I didn't think we had a lot of depth there.

Good stuff Jay. Other than Ikeem Means, PPL is probably the most intriguing story. I wasn't sure if CTF was overestimating his ability or if there really is an upside there. Apparently there is, based upon the scrimmage. Now, if he could only stay healthy.

2:59 PM  
Blogger wellsAU said...

This year's SEC West: The Premier Division of the Premier Conference in the nation.

1) Auburn (7-1)
2) Alabama (6-2)
3) Arkansas (5-3)
4) LSU (4-4)
5) Ms. State (3-5)
6) Ole Miss (3-5)

State wins the Egg Bowl to save themselves from the bottom, Auburn the Iron Bowl to take the top. I see our loss as a fluke one to malarkey Arky. Bama drops one to Arkansas and Auburn, Arkansas to LSU, UGA, and Vandy (upset special). LSU can't beat Auburn, Alabama, Florida, or Ole Miss and Les Miles gets fired. State beats Ole Miss, UGA, and UK. Ole Miss beats LSU, Vandy, and Kentucky.

Auburn beats UF (11-1/7-1) in the SEC Championship game, and goes to the BCS Title Game in New Orleans, LA. I crap my pants, attend the game, gloat at all of my LSU friends after Auburn finally wins a national championship, and die from too much Kool Aid intake.

3:02 PM  
Blogger ehyou said...

What a run! Rudi shed half the Wyoming guys and carried the other half.

3:03 PM  
Blogger wellsAU said...

But seriously. Those conference predictions hold. We'll see about the SEC and BCS Championships later.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Thanks for lookin out, SFC.

3:13 PM  
Blogger mytommyd said...

Thats fantastic Wells!!

3:16 PM  
Blogger cincytiger said...

I like your prognosticating.

3:22 PM  
Blogger wellsAU said...

I think its possible. We have a great staff that's able to call the right plays and make the right decisions. We have a nearly all senior offensive line coming back, two solid receivers, and a stud QB we just brought in from the JUCO ranks.

Senior leadership is strong on defense, and if they step up and hold strong this year, I really like our chances.

3:26 PM  
Blogger FSJ said...

I don't like your prognosticating wells...

3:29 PM  
Blogger ehyou said...

I'm so over PPL.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Seanzie said...

PPL for Heisman.

3:34 PM  
Blogger wellsAU said...

I don't like your company, FSJ.

3:39 PM  
Blogger ehyou said...

Do you mean Apple or his presence?

3:49 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

Education and entertainment substance... Blogger Tate provides it all!

Thanks, JGT.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Scott Chocolate said...

I hope there aren't any video cameras near our office mailbox. I just looked like an idiot while trying to avoid a run-in with a wasp.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

I ended my relationship with that post near the top. I hope nobody minds. Being right is important to me.

4:25 PM  
Blogger SteveFC said...

I do think Les Miles would head up my most likely to get himself fired by making a stupid call list.

I think Richt will get himself off the hotseat this season.

Spurrier will have a great season I do think. If not, he may end up having great seasons on the golf course.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

How many rounds of golf does Spurrier play a year? I put the over/under at 35.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

Puppet hour recap: 3 posts! 1 serious, 1 about running from stinging/biting insects, and 1 about something irrelevant.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Scott Chocolate said...

PPP...Pathetic Puppet-Hour Performance

5:20 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

iPad has wi-fi problems

In the words of Nelson Muntz, "Ha Ha."

5:29 PM  
Blogger Scott Chocolate said...

"Nelson, he's really hurt!"

"Well, I SAID Ha Ha."

5:32 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Can't be amazing every single day. Not even Mike Scott.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Scott Chocolate said...

Mike Scott, the musician or Mike Scott, the baseball player?

5:38 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

...or the fictional paper company employee.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

MrsTHT is amazing every single day.

Speakin' of Amazin'

5:46 PM  
Blogger Fearless Freep said...

Love the Tirico call on Rudi's Wyoming run. About as close to perfect a play-by-pay I've ever seen (especially when you include the 'it could change on one snap' foreshadowing).

Thanks for the continued semi-coverage of Spring football JGT. I can only imagine how frustrating these last few years have been in that regard after Tubs' pre-2008 open practice policy.

5:47 PM  
Blogger chip chip said...

the fun ends in tuscaloser this year. as long as newton stays healthy and plays at the level folks are starting to anticipate, i think we get 30+ in the iron bowl and put the cousin humpers back in their trailors for a year.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Fearless.True said...

well hotties, off to some AU Baseball, nice humid night here in Auburn, ball should be flying out of the park

5:56 PM  
Blogger SteveFC said...

It really doesn't seem fair to the beat hacks for them to attempt to cover spring practice with the limited access to practice and players. That has to be tough. I can see why it has to be this way, but it has to be terribly frustrating.

5:56 PM  
Blogger SteveFC said...

I am very hopefully with Newton, too. But I would remind people to not get overly excited just yet. Remember the Kodi lovers!!!

5:57 PM  
Blogger chip chip said...

seanzie, unfortunately for arsenal, messi is a bad bad man.

6:03 PM  
Blogger chip chip said...

kodi who?

6:04 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...


Take lots of pictures and give us commentary. Hotties <3 AU Baseball!

6:14 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

Freedom of information act, aside, I don't think anyone is being unfair to beat hacks.

6:15 PM  
Blogger CH=B said...

I predict that if Newton is 85% as good as advertised (and we avoid major injuries) then we will have a great shot at 10-2 or better.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

I can't believe I've never seen this Star Trek Next Gen. episode - the one where they find Lore.

Even so, I'm going to have to switch to hockey now.

GO PENS!!! Vs-HD right now!!!

6:34 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

Marcus Rowland, the fastest person in the world so far this year, was named SEC Male co-Runner of the Week. He's fast.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Yeah, it's not unfair.

Auburn has become at least as restrictive as Alabama when it comes to media availability. Never thought I'd say that.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Quite fast.

6:47 PM  
Blogger digger4au said...

Good coverage for what they give you Jay. PPL and Eddins weren't made for football or so it seems. Flahing stars that never make it to the sky. Seems like Auburn has some of these guys every year, as does other teams.
I wish them the best but don't hold out much hope for either.

6:51 PM  
Blogger digger4au said...

I really don't understand about Eric Smith. I really think he has a lot of talent and could shine in this offfense.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

My favorite current AU players:

1. Mike Berry
2. Kodi Burns
3. Cam Newton
4. Yellow Shoes Kid
5. Eric Smith
6. Lee Ziemba
7. Ryan Pugh
8. Byron Isom
9. Darvin Adams
10. Hot Boy Carter

Eric Smith has been as visible as yellow shoes kid this spring. What gives?

7:01 PM  
Blogger Peter Frankenschmidt said...

Haha. I just realized that I can save the stuff from soundboard apps to my phone to use as ringtones and such. Everyone in my phone is about to get their own Bender phrase.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

nothing beats the Baba O'Riley intro for a ring tone.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

JGT - I haven't heard Boulware or Chizik mention Wes Byrum at all. Has there been any comment on his kicking? Will we see a FR/JR type season or a SOPH season? I'm hoping for the All-SEC recognition he should have had last season.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

New thread UPZ.

7:40 PM  

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