Auburn Tigers

SEC Pulse

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC football season is now a month old. Those who follow football have come to consensus about every single team in the best football conference in the country which is the SEC. Here are my thoughts a month into the season on every team.

SEC East:

  1. Georgia: The defending national champions looked like a beast for the first three weeks of the season. Stetson Bennett looked like a Heisman front runner. UGA was lighting up scoreboards. Over the past two weeks UGA has looked very beatable with struggles against Kent St. and Missouri. Wide receivers need to get healthy, and the defense needs to stop the run better. November is looking brutal now with the recent struggles with Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Kentucky in consecutive weeks down the stretch.
  2. Tennessee: The Vols look like a scoring machine with Hendon Hooker at QB. LSU this week and Alabama next week will tell us what we need to know about Tennessee. Will the Vols be able to stop any offense with a pulse moving forward? Right now, Tennessee looks like a contender for the SEC title.
  3. Kentucky: The Cats gave one away in Oxford last weekend. But isn’t that what Kentucky does when the pressure is on? Still in contention in the east. Probably will need to beat both Tennessee and Georgia later in the season. That is not going to happen. They might get one of those big games, but they will not win both. Odds are they lose both.
  4. Florida: The Gators are in a rebuild. Billy Napier will get 6-7 wins out of this team and make a bowl. Florida will be back soon.
  5. Missouri: The Tigers played UGA down to the wire last week. Can they take that same intensity to Gainesville this week? The answer is no.
  6. South Carolina: This is a bad football team folks. End of story here.
  7. Vanderbilt: This team plays hard, and I respect that. Not a particularly good football team.

SEC West:

  1. Alabama: How hurt is Bryce Young? The running game looked impressive at Arkansas last week. Defense is solid. Wide receivers are down from previous years. This is still the team to beat right now in the SEC if Bryce does not miss considerable time. The TSIO (Third Saturday in October) next week in Knoxville with Tennessee could be the game of the year in the conference.
  2. Ole Miss: Running game and defense. That is the recipe in Oxford in 2022. 5-0 sounds good. Alabama comes to Oxford soon.
  3. LSU: Will the real LSU Tigers stand up? Jekyll and Hyde Tigers right now. Alabama comes to Tiger Stadium in November….
  4. Mississippi State: MSU is one of the surprise teams this fall. This is a dangerous team to play right now. Are you listening UGA? The November 12th trip to Starkville looks like a beast on the schedule right now.
  5. Arkansas: The Razorbacks are horrible on defense. They cannot stop a dripping faucet right now.
  6. Texas A&M: I called this before the season. This team is a fraud. No QB, no imagination on offense, and are about to get run out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama this weekend. The real loser is CBS who used a primetime 8PM slot for this game against Alabama.
  7. Auburn: If the Tigers lose on Saturday to UGA will Bryan Harsin have a job on Sunday? Auburn has QB issues and have not won in Athens since 2005. It is safe to say that Auburn has hit rock bottom. Recruiting is down and the boosters at Auburn are running and ruining the athletic department.

Wild West

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let’s take a look at the SEC West and preview how each team’s season will go.

#1 Alabama: The Crimson Tide are loaded with talent like they are every year. They return Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Bryce Young and add Georgia Tech transfer running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

There are also a pair of transfer wide receivers, Tyler Harrell (Louisville) and Jermaine Burton (Georgia).

Left tackle Evan Neal departed for the NFL. The offensive line gave up 41 sacks last year and they were very inconsistent. The defense held teams to 20.1 points per game last season and they should be better this year.

#2 Texas A&M: The Aggies had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in 2022.

The question is can they convert that into winning the West, getting to the SEC Championship and the CFB Playoff? No, but I think they can win double-digit games.

Quarterback Haynes King was injured in the second game of 2021. He returns in 2022 along with LSU transfer Max Johnson and true freshman Conner Weigman.

They need more big plays from the passing game and true freshman Evan Stewart could provide that. Devon Achane rushed for 910 yards, 9 touchdowns and averaged 7 yards per carry in ’21. He should have a breakout year and the offensive line returns three starters.

#3 Arkansas: All-SEC candidate KJ Jefferson returns at QB, four starters on the o line and a solid backfield led by Rocket Sanders.

It’s going to be tough to replace receiver Treylon Burks (66 catches) and the big-plays he used to make. Transfer receiver Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma) and Matt Landers (Toledo) will compete with Warren Thompson for the top target.

The defense gave up 29.6 ppg in SEC Play last year but they thrived at getting third down stops and limiting teams in the red zone.

They only return four starters but they added several players from the transfer portal. That includes ends Jordan Domineck (Georgia Tech) and Landon Jackson (LSU), linebacker Drew Sanders (Alabama), and defensive backs Dwight McGlothern (LSU) and Latavious Brini (Georgia).

#4 LSU: Bryan Kelly left Notre Dame to take over this program.

The Tigers are 11-12 over the last two seasons so they have a lot to improve. Only six starters return but they typically have talented players in Baton Rouge.

The secondary finished 12th in the SEC in pass efficiency defense last fall. They have several transfer players that should be able to contribute.

Garrett Nussmeier, Jayden Daniels and Myles Brennan are battling for the starting quarterback job.

#5 Ole Miss: The Rebels are coming off of 10 wins and a Sugar Bowl appearance. They lost several key contributors like QB Matt Corrall, running backs Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner and receiver Dontario Drummond.

USC transfer QB Jaxson Dart is expected to win the starting job. They also have several transfers on both sides of the ball.

#6 Mississippi State: The Bulldogs won seven games last year and return 17 starters. QB Will Rogers returns to lead an offense that averaged 378.3 passing yards per game and 29.1 ppg.

They allowed 34 sacks in 2021 and lose both starting tackles.

Having playmakers step up to keep the Air Raid going will be the storyline.

#7 Auburn: The Tigers lost five games to end the season, several players transferred and coach Bryan Harsin is already on the hot seat.

Running backs Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter should be the focal point of the offense.

They ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring last season.

Omaha!

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

One of the underrated sporting events in the country starts today and ends on June 27th.

It is the College World Series. The field looks balanced this year with no clear favorite after Tennessee, the self-proclaimed greatest team of all-time, choked at home in the Super Regionals losing to Notre Dame in grand fashion.

The field includes four SEC teams and two others, Oklahoma and Texas, who will be joining the SEC by 2025.

The SEC is dominant in most sports these days. The College World Series is played annually in Omaha, Nebraska. There should be plenty of SEC chants going on over the next 10 days. The CWS is a double-elimination tournament.

 

2022 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES Round 1

All Times Eastern

 

Friday, June 17

Oklahoma vs #5 Texas A&M 2 pm ESPN: A match-up of two SEC teams. One current and one in future in Oklahoma.

This was a huge rivalry when A&M was in the Big 12 so these programs are familiar with each other.

In his first year at Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle has reached the College World Series. He took TCU to Omaha five times in his 18 years at TCU. The Aggies are hot currently, so give me Texas A&M in this contest.

Notre Dame vs #9 Texas 7 pm ESPN: This should be a great contest. Texas lost game one in the Supers at East Carolina. Then come back and walked off with a win in game two and blew ECU out in game three to earn a trip to Omaha.

The Longhorns hit the long-ball frequently and will be a tough out in the CWS. Notre Dame, like I mentioned earlier, is riding high after beating Tennessee in Knoxville to earn a berth.

This is a tough gritty team that is dangerous in an environment like Omaha.

Give me Texas in this contest because the Longhorns have made the CWS field 38 times since the inception of the CWS.

The 2022 tournament marks the 75th playing of the CWS. Texas has been there more than half of the time. No other program has more than 25 appearances. Give me Texas in this match-up.

 

Saturday, June 18

Arkansas vs #2 Stanford 2 pm ESPN: Stanford always has good pitching, and this year is no exception. Arkansas was the Top overall seed in 2021 and did not make the CWS but went to Chapel Hill and beat a tough North Carolina team in three games to earn a spot in 2022.

Arkansas is peaking at the right time. Watch out for the Hogs. Give me Arkansas in this game.

Ole Miss vs #14 Auburn 7 pm ESPN2: Ole Miss may be the hottest team in college baseball right now. They were Preseason #1 that slumped badly in the middle of the season, only to get hot at tourney time.

The Rebels were the one of the last teams (probably last) selected to the field of 64 and have gone on a run and won a Super in Hattiesburg by sweeping Southern Miss and not giving up a run.

Auburn got sent to Corvallis, Oregon for a Super Regional and beat Oregon State.

Auburn has been a major surprise in 2022. The Tigers have a good power packed line-up. The SEC goes head-to-head in this one. Give me Ole Miss in this contest.

Teams with deep pitching staffs will rise to the top during the tourney. When it is all said and done, here is how I see it playing out:

 

Bracket One:

Notre Dame

Oklahoma

Texas

Texas A&M

 

Winner: Texas

 

Bracket Two:

Arkansas

Auburn

Ole Miss

Stanford

 

Winner: Arkansas

 

College WS Final:

Arkansas vs Texas

Winner: Arkansas

 

Arkansas is your 2022 National Baseball Champions.

The Crystal Ball Of The SEC

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Labor Day weekend is upon us and that means the greatest game of all, College Football kicks off.

I love many sports, but college football is just special. In this part of the world, you have SEC football; which is the best brand in college athletics.

Others try and duplicate it, but they simply come up short.

Oklahoma and Texas are moving over probably next season instead of 2025. Some critics say conference expansion is bad using excuses like geography, and any other reason they can find.

We live in a generation of participation trophies as it relates to sports, and quite frankly the SEC has an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of mentality and that keeps them ahead of the rest in the college football world.

Here are my 2021 SEC Predictions:

Most Overrated Team: Texas A&M: The 2021 hype train has the Aggies picked by some to knock of Alabama to win the West.

I don’t think defensively A&M is there yet, and will Jimbo Fisher open up the offense to the Alabama and LSU levels of the past two seasons?

I don’t think the Aggies have those types of weapons and will come up short in the West. What happens if they lose at home to Alabama? Well, they are and I think they end up losing to Ole Miss and possibly LSU.

Most Underrated Team: Ole Miss: Ole Miss may end up having the best offense in the conference. So, when you line up against this team you better be prepared to score a lot of points.

Everyone harps on the Ole Miss defense, but I ask the question they can’t be worse than they were last year, right? I expect improvement out of the unit in 2021. This team could sneak up into the double-digit win category.

SEC West:

Alabama: Until someone knocks them off, they are the pick here.

Nick Saban is the best head coach in the history of the conference and he has the national championships to prove it in the playoff era of college football.

Ole Miss: This team is dangerous. Sleep on them if you want to.

Texas A&M: I’m just not buying the hype. This team is too conservative on offense, and do they have enough defense to be championship elite? The answer is no.

LSU: Coach O it is starting to slip away. Fix it in 2021 or your seat is going to get very hot.

Auburn: New coaching staff that wants to go from a spread offense to more of a pro type offense. Going to take some time Aubbies.

Arkansas: I love how the Hogs are building this roster, but you are in the best division of the best conference in college football.

Mississippi State: Not a terrible team, but you have six bowl teams ahead of you.

SEC East:

Georgia: This is an elite football program that gets the underachiever label by folks who don’t hold everyone to the same standard they judge UGA by.

Could it be they know UGA is about to knock the National Title door down in the near future and what that may mean? Cue the 1980 jokes haters.

Florida: Gators will be good, but a different kind of good. One that starts with better defensive play. Florida lost 6,600 yards and 79 TDs to the NFL draft from last year.

Missouri: A much improved Tiger squad could challenge for 2nd in the East.

Kentucky: Nope, I’m not buying what you are selling Cats. Your offense is like watching paint dry.

Tennessee: Vols are building back the roster. It is going to take a couple of years.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are starting a Graduate Assistant at QB. Ouch!

Vanderbilt: We love the Dores during baseball season, but they are an instant win during the fall.

SEC Title game will be Alabama against Georgia.

I Have The Power

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Thanksgiving is almost upon us in the pandemic-stricken football season of 2020.

Just this weekend alone you have four games in the SEC that have been postponed and scheduled for a later date due to the Coronavirus. Will we make it through the regular season?

Who knows that answer, but here are my SEC Power Rankings at this point of the season:

Alabama: The Crimson Tide hung 52 points on Texas A&M. Alabama hung 41 on Georgia before Georgia’s defense was officially exposed as a fraud.

Mac Jones and Najee Harris are Heisman candidates.

This defense is starting to come around, and there is no team in the conference that will stand in their way on a cruise to the SEC Championship.

Florida could pose some problems, but that defense can’t stop a faucet drip.

Nick Saban is still the best in the business. Alabama’s offense might be better than a couple of NFL teams that are in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. SEC Champion and College Football playoff team.

Texas A&M: By virtue of beating Florida the Aggies land here.

The Aggies played awful against Alabama, but doesn’t everyone not named Auburn and LSU once every 8 years?

Jimbo Fisher is in position to get a College Football playoff bid without winning a conference championship if his team can run the table and finish 9-1 in this pandemic season.  This team is improving weekly.

Florida: The Gators got over the UGA hurdle last week, but UGA left three TD’s on the field with awful QB play.

Kyle Trask may be the Heisman front-runner at the moment.

Dan Mullen needs to get something out of this season because Trask will not be back next year.

This defense can’t stop an elite team like Alabama. I see Florida finishing the season with a 10-2 record with a nice NY6 Bowl win over someone to be determined.

This offense is really good, and they just completed another 40-yard wheel route to a running back on Georgia.

Mullen still has a month to fix this defense before the Alabama SEC title game.

Georgia: UGA lands here by default.

The QB room is a mess and the defense can’t stop a good college passing offense.

UGA may finish 8-2 who knows, but last weekend in Jacksonville left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Bulldog Nation.

Carson Beck needs to get his shot Kirby.

Auburn: With the win over a bad LSU team Gus may have survived once again.

Perception is reality you know.

This is a team that did not score a TD against UGA.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are the most improved team in the SEC.

“The Pit Boss” Sam Pittman is the SEC coach of the year. Arkansas is the SEC feel good story of the year. The Hogs are 3-3 currently and are a pretty decent football team.

Ole Miss: The Rebels have the third best offense in the SEC.

Once Lane Kiffin can shore up that defense with a couple of recruiting cycles look out SEC.

This is an exciting team to watch.

LSU: Yeah, we know the Tigers lost 14 players to the NFL draft, but damn this is LSU.

Covid-19 delayed a monumental beating from Alabama this weekend, but don’t worry LSU its coming in December.

Tennessee: You can shake 9-14 up in a bag.

Tennessee should be better than this.

Missouri: The Tigers are rebuilding and show signs of life.

South Carolina: Hugh Freeze is sitting by the phone Carolina fans.

Kentucky: Watching this offense is like staring at paint drying.

Mississippi State: The Air Raid is a dud in the SEC. The LSU game was fool’s gold against an awful defense.

Vanderbilt: Baseball season will start soon Vandy fans.

Power Rankings in Coastal Georgia seem to be a hot topic these days.

How The West Was Won

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Why don’t we take a look at the toughest division in all of College Football and that, my friends, is the SEC West.

Here are my SEC West Predictions for 2019:

Alabama 12-0: Tua will be the frontrunner for the Heisman, and Najee Harris may be the best overall running back in the SEC when it is said and done production wise.

The Alabama receiving corps with headlined by Jerry Jeudy are the best in college football.

Nick Saban is the best in the business, and the Tide has the best starting 22 players in the country.

LSU comes to Bryant-Denny, but dangerous road trips to Texas A&M and Auburn seem to be the only hurdles on the regular season slate. Alabama heads to Atlanta for another epic showdown with Georgia for the SEC Title.

LSU 9-3: Coach O has got the Tigers headed back in the right direction.

Joe Burrow is back under center for a second straight season. John Emery is coming in at running back, and LSU has the best defensive backfield in the conference.

With that said this team is not going to beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. A tough road game at Texas in week 2, and dangerous SEC road trips to Starkville and Oxford in mid-season. I think the Tigers drop one of those Magnolia State road trips.

Texas A&M 8-4: This schedule is brutal with the SEC West slate plus Clemson and Georgia. Is this team ready for primetime?

The Aggies lost their leader rusher and tackler from 2018. Is Kellen Mond an elite SEC QB? Jimbo Fisher is an elite coach, but it’s still too early to proclaim the Aggies as great in this division.

The Aggies will lose to Alabama and LSU in the West this year.

Auburn 8-4: Gus Malzahn is sitting on the hottest seat in the conference.

Who is going to be the starting QB? Will a running back up to Auburn historical standards surface? The front seven on defense will be solid and Derrick Brown may be the best defensive lineman in the conference.

Who knows about this team? Georgia and Alabama come to Jordan-Hare. Brutal schedule with the opener in Dallas against Oregon and a trip to Florida make it hard to predict big things for the Tigers in 2019 which usually means they play in the National Title game right?

A lot of questions right now in Auburn, Alabama. Gus is feeling the heat.

Ole Miss 8-4: This is my SEC West sleeper team. Yes, I see 8 wins on the schedule.

This team has some talent on offense with Matt Corral at QB. Ole Miss always has productive wide receivers. Can this defense hold up is the question?

I think the Rebels come back in 2019 after the probation period and go bowling.

Rich Rodriguez may have struggled as a head coach, but he is one of the best offensive coordinators in the business. This offense will cause problems in the SEC.

Mississippi State 6-6: The Bulldogs are going to struggle in 2019.

How do you lose three first round draft picks on defense from 2018 and improve on that side of the ball?

MSU gets in a bowl at 6-6 and the heat starts getting turned up on Joe Moorhead in 2020. Keytaon Thompson has talent at QB. The jury is out on the Bulldogs.

Arkansas 4-8: Chad Morris is in a total rebuild in Fayetteville.

It is going to take a couple more recruiting classes for Arkansas to be competitive again. Proud program that let a Big 10 coach come in and drive it over a cliff. Hog fans need to be patient with Chad Morris.

Bowl Teams: Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State

Division upset of the year: Ole Miss over LSU in Oxford on 11/16. LSU suffers a letdown after losing to Alabama on 11/9.

SEC Championship Game: Georgia over Alabama

SEC Best Basketball Conference In The Country

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For years the SEC has been known as a football conference, and with good reason.

The start of the basketball season was just viewed as the beginning of the countdown until spring football games; each passing game meant fans were just one day closer to the start of the gridiron season.

Over the past few years SEC basketball has slowly crept up the rung of high powered basketball conferences. With four teams participating in this year’s Sweet Sixteen, they may have finally arrived.

I’ve joked in the past how outside of John Calipari the rest of the SEC had basically become the “Land of Misfit Coaches”. Names like Rick Barnes, Bruce Pearl, Tom Crean, and Ben Howland; all on their own personal reclamation journeys after being dismissed from more prestigious jobs.

While it’s still too early in Crean’s tenure at Georgia, the other hires have undoubtedly exceeded expectations. Throw in other coaches like Kermit Davis and Mike White, and suddenly the SEC coaching tree is as strong as any in the country.

(Up until a few weeks ago I would’ve included Will Wade on that list with Davis and White. I do think Wade is a good coach, but I’d be shocked if he coaches another game for LSU.)

The conferences strong showing in this year’s tournament, and the increasing possibility of having at least one Final Four team, can only bolster their upward projection.

Barnes’ Volunteers did their best to help run his consecutive tournament appearances without a trip to the Sweet Sixteen to eight, but low and behold they were able to break the streak. Now, they are probably the favorite to come out their region.

North Carolina is still the favorite to come out of the Midwest, but Auburn is as dangerous as any remaining team with their ability to stretch the floor and propensity for hitting the three.

Kentucky will need PJ Washington back in order for them to have any legitimate shot of beating Houston, and either UNC or Auburn. Still, that doesn’t mean the Wildcats will be a pushover.

And as a Duke fan, if the Blue Devils are lucky enough to get past Virginia Tech, I do not want any part of LSU. The Tigers, along with Tennessee, have arguably been the best team in the SEC this season.

My only concern for LSU entering the tournament was how they would handle all the off court distractions. After two good, but not overly impressive wins, I’m not sure they’ve quite answered that question yet. However, they are long, athletic, and talented enough to beat any one of the other remaining teams.

There was a four to five year span where SEC basketball consisted of Kentucky, and that was about it. The remainder of the league basically took turns at mediocrity, with the occasional surprise tournament run.

The SEC is still viewed as a step below conferences like the ACC and Big Ten when it comes to all around talent and depth, but they’ve made up a lot of ground in a short period of time.

The league may be full of coaches on their second or third chances, but they have all but turned the corner on being “reclamation projects”.

Basketball will never be as big as football in SEC country, but with some consistency and a few deep tournament runs, those three to four months may be actually be referred to as “basketball season” and not just “football’s offseason”.

A Plain Change?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Auburn started the 2018 season ranked in the top 10 and beat a ranked Washington team the opening weekend in Atlanta.

The Tigers went into a week 3 matchup with LSU and ended up being exposed on offense in a 22-21 loss.

Back to back losses to Mississippi State and a bad loss at home to rebuilding Tennessee started the rumblings on the plains and then another loss to UGA in Athens, and having 52 hung on them in the Iron Bowl has Malzahn’s future at Auburn being questioned by many around the SEC.

Malzahn’s overall record at Auburn now is 53-27 in six years. Outside of the miracle season of 2013 where Auburn went 12-2, won the SEC, and lost the National Title game to FSU, what have the Tigers done that is so special?

Yes, I know Auburn won the SEC West in 2017 and beat number one ranked Georgia and Alabama in a three week span that November. I get that, but this program turned around and lost to Georgia in the 2017 SEC Title game 28-7 and then lost to UCF in the Peach Bowl to finish 10-4 on that season.

Auburn is 41-25 over the past five seasons, the natives are getting restless in Auburn, Alabama. So basically, Auburn under Gus is a program that is going to lose 4 or 5 games a season.

That is not acceptable at Auburn and they are trying to stay in the same area code as rival Alabama. Alabama is winning 13-14 games a season now under Saban, while Auburn is an 8-5 type team.

Let’s take a look at reasons why Auburn is struggling right now:

Stubbornness: Gus always says the right things in the media and promises change, but nothing seems to change especially as it centers around play calling on offense.

This is Malzahn’s offense at Auburn and now that Chip Lindsey is gone the focus is squarely on Gus. That is all on Malzahn. The offense is his baby.

Jarret Stidham will have a successful pro career, but I don’t think Auburn knew how to use his skill set properly. The fan base turned on Stidham, but forgot that without Stidham Auburn doesn’t win the SEC West in 2017.

Running Back: How does a school that produced William Andrews, James Brooks, Bo Jackson, Brent Fullwood, Rudy Johnson, Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Kerryon Johnson, not have a big time running back? Auburn can’t run the football, and it’s because they don’t have a big time running back. This is squarely on Gus.

Player Development: If you look at five year recruiting ranking averages Auburn is in the top ten, but Auburn has lost, on average, 5 games per season in the same cycle. What is happening to all of that talent? Gus Malzahn is the head coach of Auburn University and the buck stops with him.

Auburn hung 63 on Purdue in the Music City Bowl and Gus was feeling really good about his play calling in that contest. Will that be enough to quiet down the critics on the plains?

If not for The Prayer at Jordan Hare against UGA, or the Kick Six against Alabama in 2013 would Gus still be the football coach at Auburn University?

Keep a close watch on this situation at Auburn. If Auburn struggles early in 2019 will Gus make it to October?

Auburn is a proud football program, but the Tigers have been losing to UGA and Alabama a lot lately. That will not cut it on The Plains.

Tiger fans are praying that incoming QB Bo Nix has the same impact that Jake Fromm has had at UGA. That may be what saves the Gus Bus at AU.

College Football Fallout Week 2

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week two of the college football season is now in the books and some great outcomes and storylines arose from the “Saturday that was”.

I wonder what it will take for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to consider moving in a different direction, away from Paul Johnson.

A loss to non-Power 5 South Florida has Tech fans groaning again about Johnson and that Triple Option. However, the problem isn’t the triple option or even Paul Johnson’s coaching, the problem is recruiting.

Georgia Tech was considerably outmanned against South Florida, which had athletes all over the field and that ultimately reflected on the scoreboard.

Also, currently, South Florida and UCF are the best 2 non-Power 5 teams in the country. Thus, there should not be a lot of outrage amongst the Yellow Jacket faithful about losing to the Bulls. They are currently better.

Speaking of better, I think it is pretty safe to say the Georgia Bulldogs are better than the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Dawgs went to half up by 10 and then Kirby Smart “let the Dawgs off the chain” in the second half and South Carolina had no answers.

In my opinion, Georgia and Alabama are the two best teams in the country, again.

A team that is not among the best 2 in the country is Florida. The Gators had beaten Kentucky 31 straight time and had not lost to the Wildcats since 1986.

That streak is over. Kentucky took advantage of a bad Florida offense and came away with a 27-16 win in Gainesville. Yes, in the swamp.

Long gone are the days where no one won in the Swamp except for Florida.

One thing that truly amazes me is how the University of Florida cannot find a decent QB when they are the flagship school for one of the four most talent rich states in the country.

Especially, when you thing about the great QB’s that have played there in the last 30 years. One thing is for sure, Feleipe Franks has a lot to work on.

One last thing, for people who are not paying attention, LSU is better than you think.

Next week the Bayou Bengals will have a chance to prove this to the country as they will take on the Tigers from the plains in Auburn.

The winner will have the inside shot of dethroning Alabama in the SEC West.

 

 

Auburn Spring Game

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Auburn is one of the traditional powers in college football. The Tigers had a great 2017 finishing 10-4 and 7-1 in the SEC. They beat both teams that played in the national championship game, Georgia and Alabama. They did lose the rematch with UGA in the SEC Championship. They also lost the Peach Bowl to UCF.

Star running back Kerryon Johnson declared for the NFL Draft after the season. Auburn will have to replace his 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns.

One positive going into the 2018 season is they have finally found another quality quarterback to run Gus Malzahn’s offense in Jarrett Stidham. Stidham completed 66% of his passes for 3,158 yards and 18 TD’s. He did not play in the spring game.

In the A-Day game defense dominated. Auburn’s first-team defense held the second-team offense to minus-five yards in the first half and the quarterbacks combined to go 15 of 39 for 90 yards.

“We’re going to be top 10 this year,” defensive end Marlon Davidson said. “We’re going to be top 5; maybe even top 1. That’s how we feel. That’s how we’re going to carry it.”

I’m trying to not believe the hype. I think the defense can be very good but defense typically dominates the offense in spring or early in the season. It is worth noting that the Tigers have vastly improved over the past two years under defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

In 2017 they had their best year in pass and total defense since 2008. Auburn ranked 12th in scoring defense and 14th in total defense last season and has ample depth returning, particularly in the front seven.

“Our pillars for success is that we want to be relentless in pursuit,” Steele said. “Effort is being coached at a high level on every day, on every play. Effort is an eraser. When somebody makes a mistake, effort will erase a mistake. Then we’ve worked really hard on physical fundamentals, being physical with your fundamentals. So, really, really good in fundamentals. And then, of course, tackling. We’ve done a lot within the framework of how much you can tackle. So, the proper tackling technique.”

The defense constantly pressured Auburn’s two younger quarterbacks, forcing several interceptions from Malik Willis and Joey Gatewood. They also forced fumbles from several players.

On A-Day, Nick Coe led a defensive line unit that combined for 6.5 of 11 tackles for loss, including two sacks, one from Coe, which led to a safety.

“Our defense has a chance to be really good,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “… I think we’ve got some quality depth upfront. We’ve got quality depth at the linebacker position too. I know coach Steele’s focus was on the backend, putting all the pieces to the puzzle. I think overall they’ve done a very solid job.”

The final score was Orange: 18, Blue: 10. My takeaway is that Auburn is expecting to have a great defense in 2018 and I think that is realistic. I don’t put a lot of stock in the A-Day defensive performance though because they did not face their first team quarterback.

We will see if they can live up to their potential when the season begins September 1st versus Washington in Atlanta.