Monthly Archives

August 2017

BEFORE THE GAME: WEEK 1

By | Talent Columns | No Comments

As Tom Hardy said in his weird Bane voice, “Let the games begin.”

 

The 2017 Auburn Tigers open a highly anticipated season Saturday night with a visit from the Georgia Southern Eagles. Experts seem optimistic about the team entering this season, but memories of the 2015 season continue to haunt the memories of fans who don’t want to let themselves get too enthusiastic about the team until they see them perform on the field.

 

Those 2015 Tigers, as you may recall, were expected to be one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. Led by dynamic new quarterback/trendy preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremy Johnson and a cluster of impressive returning starters all over the field, Auburn fans spent the summer wondering who their team would face in the College Football Playoff; that’s not how things played out. Auburn narrowly defeated Jacksonville State, Leonard Fournette steamrolled the Auburn defense in Baton Rouge, Johnson was benched before September was over, and the Tigers finished the season with a 7-6 record (including four very close losses) that would have been respectable considering the circumstances if preseason expectations had not been so high.

 

Cut to 2017: led by dynamic new quarterback/trendy preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Jarrett Stidham and a cluster of impressive returning starters all over the field… you see what I mean. The 2017 Auburn Tigers could be one of the best teams in the country, but much of that potential falls on the powerful shoulder of Stidham, the Baylor transfer who threw 109 passes as a freshman before ejecting himself from the program after a scandal that claimed the jobs of the university’s president/chancellor and head football coach.

 

The reasons for excitement on The Plains are clear: Auburn led the SEC in rushing yards per game in 2016 and returns most of its key components. It stands to reason that Stidham, who was a very big deal as a recruit, should add explosiveness to a passing game that finished last in the conference in yards per game last season, making the Tigers considerably more difficult to stop on offense. Coupled with a defense loaded with depth, experience, and potential Stidham could prove to be the missing ingredient needed to lead Gus Malzahn’s offense back to the upper echelon of the SEC in most statistical categories – and more importantly, lead the Tigers back to the SEC Championship Game (and beyond).

 

If you won’t believe it until you see it, I can’t say I blame you.

WHAT TO WATCH:

1) Though Stidham’s debut attracts the most attention, he won’t be the only consequential figure making his debut for Auburn this Saturday. New offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, who previously held the same role at Arizona State, finds himself tasked with calling the plays for a unit that returns Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, who combined for more than 2100 rushing yards last season (and adds Stidham at quarterback). Lindsey, who was coaching high school football less than a decade ago, hopes to continue his swift rise through the ranks of college football; a good season with Auburn could place him on wish lists all over the country as schools begin to hunt for new head coaches.

2) Even if Stidham is as good as many people believe he can be, he won’t throw the ball to himself. Tony Stevens was Auburn’s leading receiver last season with 487 yards, and he graduated. Darius Slayton led all returning receivers with 292 yards last season, but his output will need to increase if Auburn expects to effectively move the ball through the air. Receivers Nate Craig-Meyers, Will Hastings, Eli Stove (from Niceville High School, just like me), and running back Kerryon Johnson all figure to play a significant role in Auburn’s offense this season.

3) Most of Auburn’s key figures return from a defense that played outstanding football in 2016, but a major question lingers: who will replace Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams (now playing in the NFL) along the defensive line? Hopes are high that Marlon Davidson will continue to develop after his notable freshman campaign. Jeff Holland, Nick Coe (a high school wrestling champion who generated a great deal of buzz during this offseason), and Byron Cowart (who was ranked as the #1 player in the nation coming out of high school in 2015) are among the players expected to emerge as key components for an Auburn defense that will face an early test when the Tigers travel to Clemson and face the defending national champions on September 9.

 

PECK’S PICKS

  • South Carolina 28, NC State 27: a fashionable preseason ACC Champion pick loses a heartbreaker to South Carolina, led by boy wonder quarterback Jake Bentley 

  • Georgia 34, Appalachian State 24: the Bulldogs survive a scare from a scrappy Mountaineers team known for pulling off opening-day upsets 

  • Michigan 17, Florida 7: the shorthanded Gators struggle to move the football against a Michigan team led by renowned lunatic Jim Harbaugh

  • Alabama 30, Florida State 14: a high-profile matchup of championship contenders becomes uncompetitive once FSU starts making mistakes

  • Auburn 48, Georgia Southern 20: The Tigers handle their overmatched opposition from the Sun Belt, only letting up after the result is well in hand

Enjoy the games!

 

Dan Peck
Twitter.com/DanielAllenPeck
Co-host, THE DRIVE
Host, AFTER THE GAME (every Saturday, immediately following the conclusion of the Auburn game on Wings 94.3 and wingsfm.com)

Days to Auburn Kickoff: 3 Jonathan Jones

By | Auburn University News, ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

Only 3 short days until Auburn football!

Today we honor a notable number 3; Jonathan Jones.

The Carrollton, Georgia native went to Carrollton High School before arriving on Auburn’s campus in the fall of 2012. Jones was a four-year starter at cornerback for the Tigers. In 2014 and 2015, he earned second team All-SEC honors. Jones had 129 career tackles and seven interceptions in his four years with the Tigers.

Jones was not drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, but signed as a free agent with the New England Patriots. Jones was a member of the Patriots team that went on to win Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.

War Eagle Jonathan!

Days to Auburn Kickoff: 4 Zac Etheridge

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

Zac Ethridge Football Heads on Wednesday April 28, 2010 in Auburn Al. Todd Van Emst

Kickoff versus Georgia Southern is now only four days away, and today we are honoring former defensive back/ safety #4 Zac Etheridge. He attended Charles Henderson High School in Troy, Alabama. As a junior he had 65 tackles, seven interceptions, and returned one for a touchdown. As a senior he had 89 tackles, including 65 solo stops, 14 pass breakups, three interceptions, six forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Zac also got five touchdowns. When he began at Auburn in 2007, he started 12/13 games at safety. He tied for second on the team with five pass breakups. He had 65 stops and 32 tackles. During his 2008 season, Zac finished 17th in the SEC in tackles per game. He started all 12 games and finished the season with a team high 75 tackles (including one interception, one pass breakup, and one QB hurry). In 2009, Zac made it onto the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and by this time had started 33 consecutive games before his season-ending neck injury versus Ole Miss. Before that injury he had totaled 52 tackles (36 of which were solo). Nine months later after extensive rehabilitation, Etheridge returned to the starting lineup, where he was part of the memorable season ending with the national title in 2010. He received the James Owen Courage Award from Auburn in 2013. He graduated with a degree in Political Science. He went on to start his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Penn State, then spent two years on the coaching staff at Georgia Tech. More recently, he was hired as a corner-backs coach at Western Carolina, where he will be under fellow Auburn alum, defensive coach Dustin Landry. War Eagle Zac!

New Football Post-Game Show Debuts This Saturday

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

After every Auburn football game, a brand new post-game show will air on our sister station Wings 94.3.

Dan Peck and Scott Bagwell will host Wings After the Game, a post-game call-in show that will debut this weekend. The show will feature your comments about the Tigers’ performance plus live postgame reports from the stadium.

It all starts this Saturday night, right after the Auburn season- opener against Georgia Southern.

Wings After the Game – on Wings 94.3, wingsfm.com and the Wings 94.3 app.

Auburn High Football Wins Season Opener Against Carver

By | Auburn High News | No Comments

The 2017 AHSAA football season is officially underway, and Auburn was able to shut out Carver of Montgomery on Friday night by a score of 27-0. Garrett Morris got the scoring started for the Tigers in the first with a three yard touchdown run. Then in the second quarter, Auburn quarterback Brooks Fuller connected with JaMarcus Knight for a 34 yard touchdown score. In the third quarter, Auburn defensive back Armondo Thomas recovered a Carver fumble and returned it for a touchdown to make the score 20-0. Later in the fourth quarter, Auburn running back Josh Norris had a 51 yard touchdown run to make the score 27-0.

 

Auburn senior quarterback Brooks Fuller finished the game went seven for twelve with 181 yards through the air. Auburn running back Garrett Morris also had a good performance, as he carried the ball 20 times for 64 yards. Auburn’s top receiver on Friday night was Trey Elston, who caught four passes for 73 yards. The key to the game for Auburn was their shutdown defense. Auburn’s defense forced Carver to punt five times and forced three turnovers. The Tigers’ first game did not come without some miscues however, as Auburn High racked up seven penalties for 75 yards.

 

Next, Auburn will head over to Opelika High School to take on the Bulldogs who also had an impressive 51-0 win over Smiths Station on Friday night. Air time will be at 6:30 CT this Friday on Wings 94.3 with the Auburn High broadcast team of Scott Bagwell, Blake Ramsey, and Noah Gardner. The game will be streaming online at wingsfm.com or on the Wings 94.3 app.

Days to Auburn Kickoff: 8 Cassanova McKinzy

By | Auburn University News, ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

Only 8 short days until Auburn football!

Today we honor a notable number 8; Cassanova McKinzy.

The Birmingham, Alabama native went to Woodlawn High School before arriving on Auburn’s campus in the fall of 2013.

In 2013, McKinzy led the team in tackles (75), becoming the first underclassman to do so since 2008. McKinzy had a team-high 10 tackles in the SEC Championship Game vs. Missouri. In 2014, McKinzy played in all 13 games and had 91 tackles for the season. 2015 was the final season at Auburn for McKinzy. The 6-foot-3-inch linebacker finished his Auburn career with 263 tackles and named to 3rd team All-SEC by SEC coaches.

McKinzy currently plays in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams.

Days to Auburn Kickoff: 9 Anthony Mix

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

Anthony Mix

We are only nine days away from the home opener against Georgia Southern, and today we are putting the spotlight on former wide receiver #9 Anthony Mix. He graduated from Baldwin High School in Bay Minette, Alabama. He was the quarterback, wide receiver and defensive end in 2000. He had 448 receiving yards, 178 passing yards, and eight touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs for scores. Anthony was ranked one of the top 35 wide receivers in the nation. He was also the center on the high school basketball team. In 2002, he had 13 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown. In 2003, he moved to the tight end position and finished with 21 catches for 235 yards. In 2004, played in all 13 games and had 19 catches for 294 yards. While attending Auburn University, he majored in business information systems. Mix went on to play with the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. War Eagle Anthony!