Game Week Is Here!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Game Week Is Here!

GA Southern Week

We are just two days away from Auburn Football!
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! College football has finally returned! We’ve been through a long, wet summer offseason, and the pads have started popping. Tonight, the SEC schedule officially begins as Arkansas hosts Florida A&M at 7:00 PM Central Time, on the SEC Network. For the Auburn Tigers, the season starts Saturday evening against Georgia Southern in the friendly confines of Jordan Hare Stadium. The Auburn game will kick off at 6:30 PM, and will be televised on the SEC Network.

     Hurricane Harvey has left much of the Southeast a soggy mess, but the rain and storms should be long gone by Saturday evening. It should be around a pleasant 80 degreesF at the Auburn kickoff, falling through the 70s as the sun goes down. Fans attending should be thankful, as season-opening games in past years have often featured kickoff temps in the 90s.

     As legendary Auburn head coach Pat Dye used to say, “The hay is in the barn.” This team has prepared all year to get to this point, and game time is nearly here. I’m pretty sure that Auburn has spent extra time looking at the triple option concepts Georgia Southern will likely run, and should be well-prepared to deal with them. I expect that the offense has worked on timing, and execution.

     We continue to see rumblings of surprises in the Auburn depth chart, even going on game week. We can take head coach Gus Malzahn’s “no significant injuries, no suspensions” statement earlier in the week, and toss it, most likely. I understand the need for a head coach to perhaps mislead the other team on personnel status. What I’m really tired of is Auburn administrators who seem to routinely just flat-out lie to the public.

     At midweek, the word is that redshirt freshman Nick Coe is now slated to start at defensive end. Coe redshirted last season, and has never played a college snap. On the plus side, Coe was a state-champion wrestler in high school. He’s now bulked up to at least 275 pounds, and is one of the strongest players on the team. Just a week ago, there was talk of Coe playing at tackle. Now he’s a starting defensive end?

     Likely, we won’t see Marlon Davidson this week. Davidson was the presumed starter at defensive end, but he has battled injury this fall. Auburn’s defensive ends will be a question, this week. We now have Coe and Jeffery Holland as starters at the end spots. Paul James III should be good as one backup, and he has worked on both sides of the line. I’m hearing that the current number 4 end is Big Kat Bryant, a true freshman. That’s an awful lot of green to be putting on the field for their first college snaps, against a triple-option team.

     My guess is that Georgia Southern will routinely leave one of these guys unblocked, and try to “read” him. My strategy in that case is to make sure the end knows his assignment, and sticks to it. When in doubt, and the QB still has the ball in his hands, hit him. No matter what. Auburn has the speed on the back end to clean up loose running backs. Shai Werts is making his first college start at quarterback for the Eagles. He does not need to get comfortable early!

     The depth chart that was released this week is quite ambiguous at the receiver positions. With all of the “OR” designations, there are 6 starting wide receivers listed, 2 starting running backs, 1 H-back, and 1 tight end. Obviously, Auburn can’t have 10 eligible receivers on the field at the same time. Is coach Malzahn going to pull the dreaded “packages” concept out, again? Too often the past couple of years, a quick look at who was in the game at these spots would enable the defense to know what plays were likely coming. Maybe I’m just too set in my ways, but I believe a team needs to be able to run their entire offense from base formations and personnel. Don’t let the defense guess what you’re going to run, just by the formation!

     We will have our usual Saturday gameday routine going, here at We’ll have an open thread posted early Saturday, and everyone is free to comment on the day’s action. I will have my play-by-play going, but I’m going to be late. I probably won’t arrive on the thread till about the start of the 2nd quarter. Duty and work, and all of that. Better to work this weekend, than to miss the Clemson game! I am looking forward to the return of football season, and I can’t wait to watch! And yes, I’ll be sneaking a peek at Arkansas tonight. They have a LOT of skill players to replace. Will Florida A&M give them fits?

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