Thursday, December 13, 2018

This and That in Mid-December.

It has been a fun year in basketball, thus far.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! Christmas season is roaring in, and it’s hard to believe that Auburn’s appearance in this year’s Music City Bowl is just 2 weeks away. Fall seems to go by quicker and quicker each year. On the hardwood this week, the men’s basketball team has a couple of interesting matchups, with road trips to UAB Saturday, and North Carolina State next Wednesday evening.

     Normally Auburn and UAB play a fairly close game, but I’m not so sure that will happen, this year. Auburn has just a single loss this season, to mighty Duke by a half dozen points. UAB has lost to Georgia, Florida State, College of Charleston, and Memphis. The loss to FSU was by 18, and the last couple of losses were by more than 20 points. We will have to see if Auburn plays down to this team, or if the Tigers will run away with it. This game tips off at 6:30 PM Central Time Saturday, on the CBS Sports Network.

     North Carolina State will be a significant challenge. Like Auburn, they’ve only lost once, a close 79-75 decision at Wisconsin. The Wolfpack rebounded from that loss by knocking off Vanderbilt 80-65 in Miami. As I look down the NC State schedule, I notice that in 10 games they have broken the 100 point mark 5 times. Auburn has only broken 100 twice. Beating Vanderbilt by that margin is impressive. The Commodores have long been a thorn in Auburn’s side, in basketball.

     The drama this week with the Auburn football program is that the Tigers have hired an offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, and that head coach Gus Malzahn will call plays. I think this is a good thing. I’d rather have the head coach take ownership, than the back and forth rumors we’ve heard for the last 3 years. There has been just one time in Auburn history, where the offense averaged 30 or more points per game over a season, for 4 straight years. That was from 1993-1996. The head coach, Terry Bowden called the plays, and it worked out ok. Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik has gone on record this week, stating that Gus Malzahn is one of the best play callers in the business.

     The more I look at the Purdue football team, the more I’m struck by the inconsistency. This team was good enough to mangle Ohio State by 29 points, and bad enough to lose to Eastern Michigan. Purdue took a 41-10 beating at Minnesota, as well. Boilermaker losses were to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin. They beat Boston College, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana.

     Auburn and Purdue will tangle on Friday, December 29th, at 12:30 PM, on ESPN. I plan to have my usual open thread cranked up and ready to go. I’m worried about this game. Auburn is coming off a rather disappointing season, while Purdue is happy to have just made a bowl game this year. A team in turmoil meets an up and coming team, looking to make a mark. Auburn will be in trouble if they try to mail it in against this team.

The post This and That in Mid-December. appeared first on From Neurons to Neighborhoods: An Update: Workshop Summary .

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The Return of Danjel Purifoy

At long last: Danjel Purifoy will once again don the Auburn uniform.

It’s been a minute since Auburn fans have seen Danjel Purifoy on the floor. In fact, we have to go back to March 8, 2017 when Auburn lost a heartbreaking game to Missouri in Overtime in the 1st Round of the SEC Tournament.

647 days later and the wait is finally over. The junior forward will make his season debut on Saturday night when the 8th ranked Auburn Tigers take on UAB at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. Purifoy will take the floor for the first time about 50 miles from his hometown of Centreville, Alabama. Purifoy’s addition to the lineup will allow Bruce Pearl to be able to go 10 deep with his Tigers.

Purifoy has unfortunately sat more in his time at Auburn than he’s been able to play. He missed his first season here, the 2015-2016 season, due to academic eligibility issues. He of course missed the 2017-2018 season, alone with this year’s first 9 games stemming from the FBI Investigation. Despite this, Purifoy has stuck it out at Auburn throughout this process and now will finally get a chance to show what he can do on the court. With everything he’s been through, motivation shouldn’t be a problem for him.

Back in 2016-2017, Purifoy averaged 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds a game. He was a 36.9% 3-point shooter and an 88% free throw shooter that season. He played really well during the non-conference schedule, scoring 27 points on two separate occasions, but sprained his ankle early in SEC play and mostly struggled for the rest of the year. He did put together a 15 point, 7 rebound performance in late February in a road win at LSU.

When we first saw Purifoy in the exhibition game against Lincoln Memorial, he was clearly rusty scoring 5 points, on 1-7 (0-5 3-point range) shooting in 17 minutes of action. He also looked a bit slow at times but all in all, that experience was good for him to see what he needed to work on.

During his suspension, Purifoy has worked on shedding a few pounds as evidenced here:

Now one of Auburn’s biggest questions going forward is what role will Purifoy play on this team?

Like it did for Austin Wiley, I expect it to take a few games for Purifoy to regain his footing and comfortability on the floor. Beginning Saturday, Auburn will have 4 non-conference games before SEC play begins on January 9th. Hopefully by then, we should have a much better idea of his role as he gets reacclimated to game action. Even with the return of Wiley, Auburn has stuck with its original Starting 5 throughout the season and I expect that to continue with Purifoy’s return as well. Auburn has consistently started games well so far this year that it makes sense to keep that consistency going and have Purifoy as a guy coming off the bench. I think 15-20 minutes is a realistic expectation for Purifoy as he gets back out there for Auburn and with the depth this team has, that would be a solid contribution for him.

While Purifoy played mostly out of position in his one season of action on the Plains, he looks poised to play at his normal 3 spot this season thanks to the frontcourt depth Auburn has assembled. However, Purifoy also has the ability to play at the 4 spot or even at the 2 spot whenever a player or two inevitably ends up in foul trouble. If there’s one thing we learned last season: you can never have too much depth on a team. Purifoy’s addition means that minutes will have to be shuffled a bit more but on a team of guys that just wants to win, I don’t see it being too big of an issue. One thing to watch is the lineup combinations Pearl has on the floor with Purifoy in the game. Having the ability to go 2 deep at every position is a problem that most coaches across the country would envy.

If the Auburn starting lineup remains the same then you’re looking at a bench of:

Austin Wiley

Danjel Purifoy

Malik Dunbar

Horace Spencer

J’Von McCormick

Throughout this entire process, Purifoy has been vocal on social media on how anxious he is to get back on the court. Well now the time has come, and all Auburn fans can’t wait to see Purifoy back in action and see what he can do to help Auburn build on their 8-1 start to the season. If Purifoy plays well, he’ll be another piece of the puzzle on a team that has the potential to be very special this season. Hopefully Birmingham will give this young man a great ovation when he takes the court for the first time. I know I will and I can’t wait to see how this all unfolds! War Eagle!

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DECISION 2019: For the ReCord

Cloudy today!

With a high of 58F and a low of 51F.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

‘It’s a real challenge’: Chizik weighs in on Malzahn balancing efforts as head coach and play-caller

As Gus Malzahn assumes play-calling duties again for the Auburn offense, he faces “a real challenge” in balancing responsibilities as a gameplanner and as a head coach, former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said Wednesday.

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Abby Milliet's 5th Year

Abby Milliet's 5th Year

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Abby Milliet's 5th Year

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Auburn Football Recruiting: Early Signing Day Just One Week Away

4* CB Maurice Hampton

Here’s a look at how Auburn’s busy weekend went along with a look at a major decision upcoming for one of Auburn’s most important targets.

Next week, the majority of Auburn’s 2019 class will officially sign with the Tigers. That means that long recruitments, some starting when a recruit was still in middle school, will finally come to an end and they will officially become apart of the Auburn football program. That also means that the talent pool to pick through to fill out the rest of the class will shrink dramatically come November 22nd. Which makes this last push to signing day incredibly important for this coaching staff as a number of their top targets are expected to make their decisions in the coming days. Close strong now and it means the last few months can instead be spent on a select few recruits in the 2019 class and a focus on the ensuing 2020 recruiting cycle. Falter and it means fighting with other top programs for the remaining few SEC calibre athletes over the next few months.

Official Visit Recap

This past weekend was a big one for the Tigers as they hosted TEN official visitors on campus. Everyone that was expected to be there made the trip which is always good news. Unfortunately, Auburn did not have their new offensive coordinator in place during these visits but despite that fact a number of offensive targets and commitments appear to have left the Plains feeling really good about where things stand.

4* WR George Pickens | 6’3” | 190 lbs | Hoover, AL | Auburn Commit

There were concerns Friday and most of Saturday by Auburn fans that Pickens had skipped out on his official visit. Turns out, he had to take the ACT that morning and drove up in the afternoon. This was a huge visit for the Tigers and Pickens. LSU has made a VERY strong push in recent weeks and other programs such as Alabama, Georgia and Florida State have not given up pursuit. Pickens did not give an interview afterwards but the buzz is much more positive about Auburn’s chances of hanging onto one of the nation’s top prospects. We will see if the Tigers can convince Pickens to go ahead and sign next week but as of today it appears he will wait until February.

4* QB Bo Nix | 6’2” | 207 lbs | Pinson Valley, AL | Auburn Commit

On Friday night, Bo Nix lead his Pinson Valley team to their 2nd straight state title. The next morning, he was back on campus recruiting for the Tigers while he took his official visit. Nix capped off a phenomenal senior year with a strong performance in the state championship. A number of current players and official visitors were on hand to watch Nix’s performance and he left them all impressed. As his campaign manager in DECISION 19 here on this fine website, my man only further proved why he will be Auburn’s starting quarterback in 2019.

4* CB Maurice Hampton | 6’0” | 205 lbs | Memphis, TN | LSU Commit

Hampton was one of the more intriguing visitors this past weekend. A long time LSU commit, Hampton appears to be evaluating all of his options before making a final decision. What makes his recruitment so fascinating is that he’s an elite baseball prospect as well who would want to play both at the next level, that’s if he doesn’t get drafted before then. I’m not sure if he has decided yet whether he will sign next week or wait until February.

4* RB Mark-Antony Richards | 6’1” | 195 lbs | West Palm Beach, FL

With Asa Martin’s transfer, running back has really become a priority for this staff. It’s clear they want two backs in this class and Richards has long been a name near the top of the list. Relationships and the plan they have in place for Richards appear to be the top reasons why the Tigers just might be the team to beat at the moment. Richards is a dynamic athlete who could make an early impact for the Tigers in 2019 if he were to sign with Auburn. The elite athlete does not plan to make a decision until February.

4* DL Jaren Handy | 6’5” | 278 lbs | Hattiesburg, MS | Auburn Commit

I speculated last week that Auburn might try and convince their top ranked DL commit to go ahead and sign early instead of waiting until February. That appears to have been the case as Handy left the visit saying he’s contemplating ending his recruitment early. Either way, he continues to reiterate he’s locked in with Auburn.

4* DL Charles Moore | 6’4” | 268 lbs | Louisville, MS | Mississippi State Commit

Auburn continues to pursue the longtime Bulldog commit and it sure sounds like they might be making some serious headway. Moore is close friends with Handy and said after his visit that the two still plan to play together at the next level. Now I wouldn’t take that as gospel considering recruits tend to say that all the time but there appears to be more smoke that the Tigers might pull this flip off. Auburn followed up his official visit with an in home visit Monday. Moore plans to wait until February so expect Auburn to keep the heat on up until he signs

4* DL Quashon Fuller | 6’3” | 277 lbs | Lehigh Acres, FL | Florida State Commit

Heading into his official visit, there wasn’t a lot of insight into how good a chance Auburn had with the Florida State commit. Even Fuller admitted after the trip that Auburn hadn’t really been on his radar but his mom pushed him to take the visit. Well that’s definitely changed as Fuller left the Plains very impressed by the Tigers and specifically loved the fact that the defensive line is such an important part of this football team telling AuburnUndercover:

“It was really good,” Fuller said. “This was one of the few schools that you can get a feel that the D-line is the important part of the defense. What made me realize that is how tight the D-line is. Everybody was saying ‘D-line, D-line.’ I’m talking about, these are receivers and quarterbacks that are saying this. Their D-line coach, he has put so many people in the NFL. Every time you look at a highlight real, half of it is the D-line. I just feel like how tight that D-line is, that really speaks volumes.”

Fuller plans to use all his official visits before making his final decision in February. The Tigers appear to have become a very real threat to land the big time defensive lineman out of Florida.

4* OT Bamidele Olaseni | 6’8” | 330 lbs | London, England | JUCO

I and pretty much every one in the Auburn blogosphere have written ad nauseam about Auburn’s recruiting struggles when it comes to offensive tackles. That’s why the staff is leaving no stone unturned in their pursuit for OL help. Olaseni appears to have become a major target in recent weeks and getting him on campus was big. He left feeling good about the Tigers and their plan for him but wants to take his time before making his commitment. As of now, Auburn and Utah appear to be his top contenders but expect plenty more programs to get into the mix.

3* TE Tyler Fromm | 6’5” | 225 lbs | Warner Robins, GA | Auburn Commit

Sadly, Fromm’s bid for a state championship came just short last night as his Warner Robins squad lost in Bainbridge in triple overtime. But the talented tight end had another great visit to the Plains this past weekend and is locked in with the Tigers. He will sign with Auburn next week.

3* WR Ja’Varrius Johnson | 5’9” | 164 lbs | Trussville, AL | Auburn Commit

Some of the biggest news to come out of this weekend was Johnson’s decision to now sign early with Auburn next week. The diminutive but explosive wideout has been courted in recent weeks by the Tide but they have yet to offer. Auburn, meanwhile, has been fighting hard to convince Johnson to go ahead and end his recruitment next week. Getting this kid on board early is huge for this class. Ignore the low rating, this dude is a beast with the ball in his hands.

Important Decision Coming Soon

It’s been over a month since the Tigers last landed a commitment and Auburn is hoping that drought ends at the end of this week. Arguably Auburn’s most important target on the board right now, 4* OG William Putnam is set to make his commitment later this week.

This is a three team race between Auburn, Clemson and Florida State. The consensus appears to be that Auburn and Clemson are probably the top two teams and it’s too close to call right now. Both programs are in desperate need for an elite OL in this class. For Auburn, they are hoping the chance at early playing time along with his bond with many of Auburn’s 2019 commitments will be enough to convince the #78 overall player in the country to don the orange and blue next season. It would be a huge victory for this staff and a big pull before early signing day.

Alabama - Mississippi All-Star Game

I will have a more in depth preview this weekend but one of my favorite prep all-star games happens next Monday as some of the top prospects form the state for Alabama and Mississippi face off in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. The Tigers are expected to have six commitments in action as Bo Nix, George Pickens, Ja’Varrius Johnson and Nehemiah Pritchett will suit up for Team Alabama and face off against Jaren Handy and Jamond Gordon on Team Mississippi. Top targets such as LeDarrius Cox, Charles Moore and Nakobe Dean will also be competing. Most exciting though is that this will be a chance for Auburn fans to get a glimpse of what an AU offense might look like with Nix at the helm and Pickens/Johnson split out wide. Players report today and will practice leading up to Monday.

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Partly Cloudy today!

With a high of 56F and a low of 40F.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Auburn AD Pens Open Letter to Tiger Fans

Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene has been noticeably quite during recent news reports, rumors and speculation about the future of Auburn football. On Monday the AD penned an open letter to the fan base in which he talked about several Tiger sports but specifically addressed fan’s concern with the football program.

Below, we have posted an excerpt of Greene’s remarks. You can read his entire letter here.

“Throughout the season, Coach Malzahn and I had discussions focused on placing our student-athletes in the best competitive position for the future. To confirm, Coach Malzahn is dedicated to this program and he has my support as we work together to move forward. Our discussions are ongoing, and we will focus on evolving in all facets of the program to achieve better and more consistent results. Rest assured, my commitment to overseeing and managing the effort to put Auburn football back at the level we expect and you deserve will be unrelenting.

We have the most passionate fan base in the country, who love Auburn and all it represents. You, the fans, are the driving force in our effort to make you proud. Of course, it stings when we fall short of our lofty expectations, but in true Auburn fashion, we will dust ourselves off and recommit to our goals.

To reiterate, my responsibility is to serve Auburn, and more specifically, our coaches, staff and student-athletes. Among other things, successfully navigating this endeavor requires collaboration, trust, passion and resilience – qualities our young men and women learn every day as student-athletes.

As the end of football season draws near, I look forward to the upcoming bowl game and enjoying the winter sports season, which includes men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics and swimming & diving.

One of the many reasons I’m happy to call Auburn home is because of your fierce loyalty to the orange and blue. Thank you for your passion, and thank you for welcoming my family with open arms. Continue to believe in Auburn and love it.
War Eagle and Happy Holidays!”

The post Auburn AD Pens Open Letter to Tiger Fans appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

from Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog


Music City Bowl Roll Call

Winnie and I will be at the Pancake Pantry in Nashville (close to Vanderbilt Stadium) at 10 AM on Dec 28th chowing down on some flapjacks and bacon, if you are going to the game, come by and join us. 

We will be easy to spot, look for the orange avalanche of clothing.

Who is going, let us know. 

We can change meeting spots if someone knows a place close to Nissan Stadium that sells breakfast/lunch in a hurry.

The post Music City Bowl Roll Call appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

from Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog

Kenny Dillingham Hired as Auburn’s OC by Auburn Einstein

Kenny Dillingham was announced Monday as the new Offensive coordinator at Auburn. Dillingham spent 3 years at Memphis serving in 2018 as the Offensive Coordinator. The (Memphis) Tigers had 12,945 yards and 129 touchdowns in the 2016 and 2017 years combined, reaching as high as ranked as number 4 in total offense in 2017.

Dillingham was a part of a coaching staff that broke just about every school record an offense could break in 2017. Memphis in 2017 set records in points (592), plays (941), total yards (6,917), passing yards (4,355), completions (307), attempts (488), offensive touchdowns (72), and passing touchdowns (39). Memphis also became the first program in college football history to have a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and 1,000-yard receiver. In 2018, Memphis was ranked 7th in scoring offense (44.2 PPG), 3rd in rushing offense (285.54 YPG), and 4th in total offense (534.3 YPG).

Dillingham (28) is the youngest offensive coordinator in the SEC (Alabama and Tennessee haven’t hired an OC). He has had a quick ascent in the college football world and has had great success everywhere he’s been. He will have the chance to prove himself at the highest level in college football. War Eagle, Coach!


Auburn in the NFL - Week 14

How’d our old favorites do this week? Let’s review!



Patriots - Jonathan Jones (CB) notched 3 tackles, and half a sack as New England got burned on one of the wildest game-ending plays you’ll ever see. Unfortunately, he was also one of the players that missed a tackle on that last play. Brandon King (LB) also got himself a single tackle in the loss.


Chiefs - Dee Ford (LB) had 4 tackles and half a sack as KC got a clutch win over the Ravens.


Colts - Braden Smith (RT) helped Indy produce 436 yards of offense and the line only allowed one sack as the Colts won.

Texans - Angelo Blackson (DT) had a tackle in the loss.


Packers - Montravius Adams (DT) had a tackle in the win.


Panthers - Cam Newton (QB) threw for 265 yards on 26-42 passing, with no touchdowns and an interception. He also ran 5 times for 23 yards. Cameron Artis-Payne (RB) had a single carry for 5 yards.


Buccaneers - Peyton Barber (RB) ran 14 times for 42 yards in the loss.


Raiders - Daniel Carlson (K) made his only field goal attempt from 44 yards out, as well as all three of his extra points.


Bears - Cody Parkey (K) made 2-3 of his field goal attempts and the only extra point for Chicago.

Rams - Blake Countess (DB) had a single tackle in the loss.

War Eagle!

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‘We expect to deliver’: Auburn AD Allen Greene reaffirms his support for Malzahn in open letter

Auburn athletic director Allen Greene published an open letter to Auburn supporters on Monday morning, reaffirming his support for Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn as the program moves forward.

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