Tuesday, June 25, 2019

BELATED 68 DAYS TO KICKOFF - Stephen Roberts

Patience, intelligence, speed.

As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.


Roberts came out of nearby Opelika as one of the top ten players in the state of Alabama, and he committed to Auburn just after the Miracle at Jordan-Hare in November of 2013. It was a big get, as history has not been kind as far as local kids staying home to play for the Tigers. In fact, he’d been an Alabama commit at one point during his recruitment, but he flipped and chose to stay home. It was a good decision. He wasn’t the biggest guy coming out of high school at just 5’11, 187 pounds, but he was able to use his speed to flourish as a cover guy in the back end.


After seeing only a few plays on the field as a freshman in 2015, Roberts saw more and more time in 2015 and 2016. As a sophomore, he played in 7 games and finished 26 tackles and 3 pass deflections before starting 11 games in 2016. That season he would accumulate 57 tackles and a pair of interceptions for his best statistical campaign, and he’d return in 2017 to anchor a defensive backfield with his senior leadership.

Time and time again, he would use his speed and agility to find the right angle to make a great tackle. In many instances, he took down guys that were way more talented than he was, as you can see in the clip below from the Iron Bowl in 2017.

That’s likely the biggest play he ever made. It’s a perfect tackle, and he was able to destroy Bo Scarbrough’s mojo (and Alabama’s) in the Iron Bowl that year. If he doesn’t make the stop, the game likely changes completely, but Alabama was 100% stifled after that stop and never scored again. He was also a fairly talented pass defender, again using speed and his recognition of opposing offenses to make plays.

After a solid finish to his senior season, he went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he was able to sign on with the Philadelphia Eagles in an UDFA deal.

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WEEKEND CATCH-UP: Belated 69 Days to Kickoff - Ricardo Louis


As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.


Yeah, we’re a little late, but THIS ONE’S GONNA BE FUN.

Ricardo Louis came to Auburn as a 4-star wide receiver from South Florida, with interest and offers from Alabama and Florida State. As a top-20 receiver nationally, his size was actually utilized more as a running back in high school, where he ran for over 700 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. He was a part of the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game, and came into Auburn with just one other receiver — JaQuay Williams. He’d be called on to do some big things on the boundary for Gene Chizik’s group.


Unfortunately, Chizik lasted only a year into Louis’ tenure on the Plains. After his freshman year, he got to endure the uncertainty of a coaching search and a slow season with just 3 catches for 36 yards. His sophomore year would be better, I promise (wink wink).

SO. Don’t know if you remember, but Auburn was pretty good in 2013, and Louis was a big reason why Auburn nearly won its second national title in a short span. He caught his first career touchdown in the blowout win over Western Carolina midway through the year, but he barely did anything over the next few weeks. Auburn went into the Georgia game at 9-1 and ranked in the top ten, but trailing 38-37 late and facing a 4th and 18, things looked bleak.

Legend has it that Louis basically told Nick Marshall to throw him the ball and that he would catch it. That has to be the only explanation, because Marshall shrugged off a wide open Sammie Coates for a sure first down and heaved the ball into double coverage for Louis, who didn’t even see the ball coming his way.

It’s Rod Bramblett’s best call, in my opinion, and it became the most legendary play in recent Auburn memory for exactly two weeks.

Louis’ career blossomed even more in 2014 as his playmaking ability was further examined. Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee realized that he was one of the fastest guys on the team, and started using him on jet sweeps.

But in his senior season in 2015, he had his best receiving year yet, with 716 yards and 3 touchdowns. Twice he went over 100 yards in a single game, but Auburn was one of the bigger busts around the country after a top ten preseason ranking fell apart.

Louis ended up a 4th round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2016 NFL Draft, due in large part to his fantastic combine performance, but in the time since his selection, he only caught 45 passes for 562 yards. He was picked up by the Dolphins prior to the 2019 season, but placed on injured reserve for the year.

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NEW EPISODE ALERT: Orange and True Podcast!!!

EPISODE 54: Baseball is Over, NBA DRAFT


We’re back for another episode after a surprisingly full late spring week of Auburn athletics. As we turn the clock to summer, we’re still enjoying the full recap of Auburn’s trip to Omaha for the College World Series, and the first NBA Draft that Tiger fans could pay attention to in quite some time!

What’s even better is that we roll back a couple of listener questions and Crow turns into Sarah Koenig to ponder the sudden late-night departure of Auburn University President Steven Leath.

It’s EPISODE 54 of this wonderfully weird show — enjoy Orange and True!

Also, make sure you’re in a position to listen next week — we’ll be going over some of the most interesting “What if?” moments in Auburn sports history. If you’d like, submit your own moments for consideration and maybe the guys will ponder the ramifications on next week’s episode!

War Eagle!

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Partly Cloudy today!

With a high of 91F and a low of 72F.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Ric Flair Brings Stylin’ and Profilin’ to the Plains

This past weekend NATURE BOY, Ric Flair himself visited Auburn for his stepson Sebastian’s Camp War Eagle orientation and the internet completely exploded. Ric Flair is known by many as the greatest professional wrestler of all time. Flair holds the record for most wrestling world championships with 16. He is recognizable not just within the […]

Ric Flair Brings Stylin’ and Profilin’ to the Plains - Fly War Eagle - Fly War Eagle - An Auburn Tigers Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

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2020 Auburn Baseball, Omaha Stays in Sight

The future of Auburn baseball looks promising as two of Auburn baseball’s starters turn down major league deals to return for the 2020 season and there is no doubt that Omaha is in their sights. Auburn baseball’s season ended in Omaha last week after a heartbreaking late 9th inning loss to Mississippi State sent them […]

2020 Auburn Baseball, Omaha Stays in Sight - Fly War Eagle - Fly War Eagle - An Auburn Tigers Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

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Butch Thompson and Bruce Pearl, True Auburn Men

Bruce Pearl and Butch Thompson both took their teams to the highest level of competition in their respective sports and did it in extremely similar fashion like true Auburn men. Bruce Pearl faced the beginning of this last basketball season with uncertainty. Preseason polls ranked Auburn number 11, but forward Anfernee McLemore was returning from […]

Butch Thompson and Bruce Pearl, True Auburn Men - Fly War Eagle - Fly War Eagle - An Auburn Tigers Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

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WEEKEND CATCH-UP: Belated 70 Days to Kickoff! - Zion Puckett

As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.


When a recruit has Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, and Auburn on his list, you know he’s got to be one of the most coveted guys in the class. Such was the case for Zion Puckett, a two-way player out of Griffin, Georgia in the 2019 class. Puckett played DB and wide receiver in high school, and during his recruitment got looks at both positions at the next level. Here’s AUNerd’s take on Puckett:

I’m a huge Zion Puckett fan. I personally believe he’s one of the top 50 players in the country in this 2019 class. At 6’0” 200 lbs, Puckett possesses great length and size for the cornerback spot. But what I love most about him is his attitude. He plays with an edge and isn’t looking to just win at the point of attack, he wants to dominate. Puckett has elite ball skills and is definitely not afraid to stick his nose in on run support. Auburn could also use him on the offensive side of the ball if they wanted given his explosive playmaking abilities but his future is most likely in the defensive backfield. He will start out at cornerback.

Puckett decided to keep his recruitment low-profile, though, largely shying away from “Top 10” or “Top 5 Lists” on social media. He ultimately committed to the Tigers in August before his senior year, and was one of the first to get his LOI faxed in on signing day.

Auburn recruited the highly touted athlete as a defensive back, and as an early enrollee, Puckett was able to get more reps than expected in the spring. With Jordyn Peters out with injury, DB coach Marcus Woodson slotted the freshman in behind Christian Tutt at nickel. Unless Peters’s injury lingers into the season, Zion will likely redshirt, but he’s a name to keep an eye on in 2020 when Auburn graduates three of its top four defensive backs.

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WEEKEND CATCH-UP: 71 Days to Kickoff! - Stanley McClover

The bane of Brodie Croyle’s existence makes his appearance

As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.


At the time of his recruitment, many saw McClover as just the latest in a long pipeline between Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High School and Auburn University. All Americans Frank Sanders and Brian Robinson along with stars like Calvin Jackson and James Bostic had been key members of Auburn’s early success under Terry Bowden. Auburn had to fight in-state Florida and Miami hard for McClover’s signature, but he decided to become part of a long line of talented pass rushers to play for Tommy Tuberville.

McClover would of course later claim that he was paid improper benefits to come to Auburn as part of the HBO Real Sports “documentary”. McClover’s former teammates, and his former high school coach, would end up speaking out against McClover’s involvement in the documentary, as it seems that he leveraged information on Auburn for coverage of his charity. To those of us that were in Auburn at that time, it’s not surprising the best quote on it came from Bret Eddins:

“If he had money, it must have been in a Roth IRA or something.”


While McClover was much more easily recognizable, he was overshadowed at Auburn by Quentin Groves, the other pass-rushing specialist. Groves eventually developed into a player that could stay in the game against the run, while McClover never developed into much of a run-stopper. After red-shirting in 2003 (McClover was a partial qualifier, so he was allowed to practice while he showed that he could complete college coursework), he gradually broke in as a pass-rusher later in 2004. His best games came in the middle of the season between the Louisiana Tech and Georgia games, where he managed 5.5 sacks, 6 hurries, and forced 2 fumbles.

After again struggling to start 2005, McClover came on fire at the end of the regular season. He finally got his first sack of the season on November 5th at Kentucky, and he would have at least one sack in every remaining game of the season. In his final 4 games, the man we called The Predator had 18 tackles (TEN of them behind the line of scrimmage) and 7.5 sacks. His final game at Jordan-Hare Stadium would be his best, picking up 3.5 of the 11 sacks Auburn would register against Alabama. McClover beat Chris Capps so bad in this game that I remember his name. He was just some dude who played left tackle for Alabama in the Shula years. Though given how this game goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gave up football afterwards.

The Pro

After the bowl game, McClover decided to cash in on his four game run and put his name in the NFL draft. Unfortunately, he was still a bit unpolished as a pass-rusher, and his run-stopping was negligible. Carolina would draft him in the 7th round, and to date the most notable part of his Panthers tenure is that the Panthers drafted his brother, Brian Burns, in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He finished with 12 tackles and 1 sack in his career. After being waived by the Panthers, he attempted to catch on with the Texans, but he never registered a stat for them.

Making big plays in the Iron Bowl can define a player’s career. Just ask Tre Smith. If all Stanley McClover is every really known for is racing past some poor over-matched Alabama offensive tackle, it was all still worth it.

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Auburn Baseball Players Make Decision on Their Future Known

A week ago, Auburn was working on flushing a gut wrenching loss to Mississippi State. This Monday finds the Tigers back in Auburn and working forward to next season and this morning, the Tigers got news on who would be joining them on the field for the 2020 season. Two current Auburn Tigers and one that would have been have decided to test the pro baseball world as Will Holland and Elliott Anderson signed with the teams that drafted them (Minnesota and Kansas City respectively), while 2019 signee seems to have made his decision to sign with Baltimore. We wish all of them well and nothing but the best in the big leagues. Make us proud boys!

On to the good news for next season! Auburn got back to back announcements from Edouard Julien and Jack Owen on Monday.

This is huge news for the Tigers, as it means they will return all but 57 of their 606 hits and 9 of the 50 Home Runs they hit as a team on offense while on the bump, the Tigers will get back all but 77 innings that were pitched this season (Anderson and Blake Schilleci who graduated) (Auburn pitching went through 598.1 innings this season). Auburn is sure to see some transfers in the offseason as well, but the eight fielders could already be set with a little shuffling.

  • 1B- Conor Davis (has played it in the past and would be the DH if not)
  • 2B- Edouard Julien (was originally recruited as at 2B and is his natural position)
  • SS- Ryan Bliss (was being groomed to take over for Holland when it was apparent he would be gone for next season)
  • 3B- Rankin Woley (played 3B up until this season when he took over at 1st)

The outfield will remain the same so that would leave the DH position open for the best bat in the fall.

On the mound…this is exciting. Look for Tanner Burns to be the ace with Jack Owen holding down Saturdays and then it’s a pick your poison, Bailey Horn, Richard Fitts, Brooks Fuller, Carson Skipper or perhaps someone else like a Garrett Wade or newcomers like Hayden Mullins could come in and contribute as well. We will dive in deeper later this summer but know that 2020 just got better for Auburn on both sides of the ball.

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PM Thunderstorms today!

With a high of 91F and a low of 71F.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Auburn Heads Back to Texas. (Previewing Auburn’s SEC opener against Texas A&M.)

Eli Stove sticks a dagger in the Aggies!
(AP Photo/Sam Craft)

     War Eagle, everybody! It’s time now for another Auburn game preview! On September 21st, Auburn will travel to College Station, Texas to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in the SEC season opener. Texas A&M was a dangerous team last season, that really had Auburn on the ropes for most of the game, before a furious 4th quarter Auburn rally. Both teams need the win, to really have any chance to compete for the SEC West title.

     This will be Jimbo Fisher’s second season as head coach in College Station. Some folks say that Fisher inherited a wealth of talent, and was fortunate last season. I think with Fisher’s track record, that is a bit unfair. Texas A&M won 9 games while playing in the toughest division in college football, and I think that speaks for itself. The issue this year that faces the Aggies is replacing a large amount of talent that either graduated or left early for the NFL.

     Texas A&M opens the season with Texas State, then travels to Clemson in week 2. The Aggies return home to tune up against Lamar, then host the Auburn Tigers. Auburn will have already played a game in Texas, in Arlington in the opener against Oregon. Auburn goes back home to tune up on Tulane and Kent State. I think Auburn’s schedule week to week is tougher than Texas A&M’s, but the Aggies do face the defending national champion on the road.

     Texas A&M will have to rebuild in spots on defense, and head coach Fisher brought in former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko to do the job. The Aggies have to replace 3 starters on the defensive line, as well as a dominant sort of linebacker. The key for the Aggies is going to be slowing Auburn’s running game down. When Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn gets a running game going, Auburn has been next to impossible to beat. Texas A&M needs to force the game onto the arm of a freshman quarterback for Auburn. The Aggies have a veteran secondary, although the defense only forced 11 turnovers all season long, lasts year.

     Texas A&M returns a dangerous dual threat quarterback in Kellen Mond, but other areas took some off-season hits. When the Aggies could run the ball last season, the offense was strong. When the offense was stopped up front, Mond took a beating, as the Aggies allowed a whopping 35 sacks last season. Star running back Traveon Williams takes 1760 rushing yards and 278 receiving yards with him to the NFL. Also gone is dangerous receiving tight end Jace Sternberger. The Aggies do have some big receivers returning, and young talent in the running back corps, but it will probably take time for the unit to gel.

     Texas A&M has a great player on special teams, senior Braden Mann, who punts and kicks off. Mann was the nation’s leading punter last season, and more than half of his kickoffs were touchbacks. Dangerous Aggie return men are back this season on both units, and coverage in both aspects was good, last season. If there was an Aggie special teams weakness last season, it was place-kicking, as the Aggies missed 10 field goal attempts with freshman kicker Seth Small missing 8 of those. As a sophomore, Small will likely improve.

Unit matchups, after the jump!

Auburn defensive line vs. Texas A&M offensive line: Auburn must win this matchup to keep this game close. Auburn brings a big, athletic defensive line back this season. Likely starters at tackle are senior Derrick Brown and junior T yrone Truesdell. Senior strong-side end Marlon Davidson will be a 4-year starter. The buck side is a rotation between juniors Nick Coe and Big Kat Bryant. Auburn can play monster sophomore Nick Coe at any position on the line with great results. Auburn has serious depth all across the line, as well. Texas A&M’s line was a solid run blocking unit at times last season, but had difficulty allowing a lot of negative plays against better fronts. From left to right, the likely Aggie starters are junior Dan Moore, Jr., junior Jared Hocker, junior Ryan McCollum, senior Colton Praeter, and junior Carson Green. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn linebackers vs. Texas A&M backs: Auburn will be breaking in a new starting rotation of linebackers, but there is a good bit of playing experience, as these guys have been rotating in for a couple of years. Auburn will go with junior K. J. Britt in the middle, and some combination of junior Chandler Wooten, and sophomore Zakoby McClain on the outsides. I would also expect true freshman Owen Pappoe to play early and often. Texas A&M sophomore Jashaun Corbin is expected to be the bellcow back for the Aggies, this season. Corbin produced 362 rushing yards as a freshman, and 85 receiving yards. He is the most complete back the Aggies have, but there is talent behind Corbin, most notably transfer Cordarrian Richardson, from Central Florida. Richardson checks in at 246 pounds, and would be a load to try and tackle. The possible issue for the Aggies is lead blocking. The hope is that sophomore transfer Ben Miles will be solid enough, there. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn corners vs. Texas A&M receivers: Auburn has a fairly good combination of starting corners, in senior Javaris Davis and junior Noah Igbinoghene . Auburn has depth and experience behind the starters. What is worrisome about the Aggie receivers is the size of them. There are 5 juniors that will likely rotate at the receiver spots, and all of them are around 6′ 2,” Auburn is smaller than that, at most defensive back spots. The Aggie receiving candidates are Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon, Cameron Buckley, Kendrick Rogers, and Hezekiah Jones. Advantage: Even.

Auburn safeties vs. Texas A&M secondary receivers and quarterback: Auburn’s starting unit features Seniors Jeremiah Dinson and Daniel Thomas at safety. This is a veteran crew with experienced backups. I think Auburn would like to start sophomore Christian Tutt at the nickel spot. Quarterback Kellen Mond is the key player for the Aggies. Despite getting a ton of pressure last year, Mond mostly was able to avoid critical mistakes, and added 474 rushing yards to the offense, to go along with 7 touchdowns on the ground. This year, Mond would like to improve on a 57 percent completion percentage. The Aggies will likely run a lot of 3 receiver sets, and will utilize some of the receivers in the previous section in the slot. The Aggies are hoping to plug sophomore Glenn Beal in at tight end. Advantage: Even.

Punting: Aaron Siposs had a good rookie campain punting the football (averaging 44.2 yards per punt), and is expected to be one of the better punters in the SEC this season. Likewise, Texas A&M returns senior punter Braden Mann, who averaged 50.98 yards per punt last season. Auburn improved dramatically in coverage last season (3.36 yards per return), and Texas A&M was good, allowing 6.3 Advantage: Even.

Kickoffs: Auburn sophomore Anders Carlson had a great year kicking off, last season, with hitting 51 touchbacks on 70 kickoffs. When Carlson didn’t kick it to the end zone, Auburn gave up only 19.44 yards per return. Senior Braden Mann handles kickoffs for the Aggies. Last season Mann had 80 kickoffs and 57 touchbacks. Texas A&M gave up just 16.5 yards per kick return. Advantage: Texas A&M.

Place kicking: Auburn sophomore Daniel Carlson hit on just 15 of 25 field goal attempts, and was 5 of 14 from 40 yards or more. Seth Small hit on 20 of 28 field goal attempts last season. Advantage: Even.

Auburn offensive line vs. Texas A&M defensive line: Auburn has 5 veteran seniors returning on the offensive line, and they looked very good in the Music City Bowl, and on A-Day. From left to right, this will be Prince Tega Wanagho, Marquel Harrell, Kaleb Kim, Mike Horton and Jack Driscoll. The lone returning starter for the Aggies is junior tackle Justin Madubuike, who is a rock. The other tackle will probably be junior Jayden Peevy. Texas A&M will be young but talented under sophomores Tyree Johnson and Bobby Brown. Look out for incoming freshman DeMarvin Leal, a large defensive end who was one of the top defensive linemen in the country in the recruiting rankings. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn backs vs. Texas A&M linebackers: Auburn lost H-back Chandler Cox, a 4-year starter, blowing open holes. The real question is who will replace Cox. Right now, senior Spencer Nigh is the only fullback/H-back listed on the roster. Sophomore John Samuel Schenker is likely to get work here as well. Senior Kam Martin is blazing fast, but has had durability issues in the past. Sophomore JaTarvious Whitlow took over the top spot last year, and is said to be much improved this spring. Senior Malik Miller has size, power, and a few carries here and there, but hasn’t been used much. Auburn will likely face a trio of juniors as linebacker starters, asked to step up from the bench. Across the corps is Buddy Johnson, Keeath Magee II, and Braden White. Advantage: Auburn.

Auburn receivers vs. Texas A&M corners: Auburn is moving sophomore Seth Williams to the boundary (X) side of the offense, and the likely starter in the flanker spot is either redshirt freshman Matthew Hill or junior Marquis McClain. While Auburn is young here, Texas A&M is veteran and capable at cornerback. Senior Charles Oliver and junior Debione Renfroe should be capable, and there is depth behind them. Advantage: Texas A&M.

Auburn secondary receivers and quarterback vs. Texas A&M: All eyes will be on a new Auburn freshman quarterback starting. Whether that will be Joey Gatewood or Bo Nix has yet to be determined. I would expect the Aggies to try to go after these guys, and cause confusion in the backfield. Auburn has a very speedy and dangerous group of secondary receivers, including junior Eli Stove, senior Will Hastings, and sophomore Anthony Schwartz. Auburn can put big senior receiver Sal Cannella in and get a size mismatch. Texas A&M safeties return from last season, sophomore Leon O’Neal Jr., and junior Derrick Tucker. I think Auburn can create some mismatches in space, but can freshmen quarterbacks take advantage? Advantage: Texas A&M.

     Auburn lost a lot less to graduation than Texas A&M did, and appears to have more advantages than the Aggies do. Particularly interesting is that Auburn appears to be stronger on both lines of scrimmage. However, Auburn inexperience at quarterback vs. a veteran Aggie back end could be a great equalizer, or worse. College Station is a great home field advantage for the Aggies, as well. I will note that Auburn has never lost in this venue, but as always, history doesn’t win games. The current players do, or don’t.

Prediction: With advantages on both lines of scrimmage, Auburn pushes the Aggies around a bit, and quiets the home crowd. Able to run the ball successfully and avoiding turnovers, Auburn produces a surprising 34-20 win.

The post Auburn Heads Back to Texas. (Previewing Auburn’s SEC opener against Texas A&M.) appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

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