New England Patriots advance to Super Bowl LI

The New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 on Sunday to win the AFC championship and earn a place in Super Bowl LI.

The New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 on Sunday to win the AFC championship and earn a place in Super Bowl LI.

The Patriots will play the Atlanta Falcons at 5:30 p.m. CST Feb. 5 in Houston for the NFL championship. FOX will televise the Super Bowl.

Playing in the AFC title game for the sixth consecutive season, New England will make its third trip to the Super Bowl in that span. Coach Bill Belichick becomes the first coach to guide seven teams to the Super Bowl. The Patriots’ ninth appearance will become the most in Super Bowl history. The Patriots won the Super Bowls for the 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2014 seasons.

Six players with Alabama football roots will advance to the Super Bowl with the Patriots – cornerback Malcolm Butler (West Alabama), defensive end Trey Flowers (Columbia), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (Alabama), cornerback Cyrus Jones (Alabama), cornerback Jonathan Jones (Auburn) and safety Brandon King (Thompson, Auburn).

Butler at left cornerback, Flowers at right defensive end and Hightower at middle linebacker were in the starting lineup for New England. Butler made four tackles and broke up a pass. Flowers and Hightower had three tackles apiece.

Jonathan Jones made three tackles of special teams for the Patriots.

Cyrus Jones was one of the seven New England players designated as inactive for Sunday’s game.

Wide receiver Chris Hogan had a breakout performance for the Patriots, setting a franchise playoff record with 180 receiving yards on nine receptions, including two that went for touchdowns.

New England quarterback Tom Brady also set a franchise postseason record with 384 passing yards. He completed 32-of-42 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 31-of-47 passes for 314 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Steelers’ top running back, Le’Veon Bell, suffered a groin injury and had only six rushes for 20 yards.

Pittsburgh had two players from Alabama high schools and colleges – wide receiver Sammie Coates (Leroy, Auburn) and offensive lineman Chris Hubbard (UAB).

Coates caught two passes for 34 yards, including a 30-yarder, and returned two kickoffs for 45 yards, including a 31-yarder.

Hubbard is a reserve, but he saw some time in Sunday’s game checking in as a tight end in Pittsburgh’s jumbo formation.

The Falcons reached Super Bowl LI by beating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

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New England Patriots advance to Super Bowl LI

The New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 on Sunday to win the AFC championship and earn a place in Super Bowl LI.

Atlanta Falcons advance to Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons earned a spot in Super Bowl LI by beating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

The Atlanta Falcons earned a spot in Super Bowl LI by beating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

The Falcons will make their second Super Bowl appearance. Atlanta lost to the Denver Broncos 34-19 in Super Bowl XXXIII to cap the 1998 NFL season.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (Foley, Alabama) paced the Falcons with nine receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Jones caught a 5-yard touchdown pass on Atlanta’s final snap of the first half and a 73-yard touchdown pass on the Falcons’ second snap of the second half.

Jones came up 2 yards short of his franchise single-season record for receiving yards in a postseason game, but he did become the first player with at least 150 receiving yards and two TD catches in two conference-championship games.

Two other players with Alabama football roots will join Jones in as Atlanta teammates in the Super Bowl – defensive tackle Courtney Upshaw (Eufaula, Alabama) and long snapper Josh Harris (Auburn).

Thirty-nine Alabama alumni and 29 Auburn alumni have played in the Super Bowl.

Green Bay had two players from state high schools and colleges – free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) and cornerback LaDarius Gunter (Jeff Davis). Clinton-Dix and Gunter were both in the starting lineup for the Packers.

Clinton-Dix had five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and broke up two passes. Gunter made six tackles and broke up one pass.

Green Bay entered the NFC title contest on an eight-game winning streak. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 27-of-45 passes for 287 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 27-of-38 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a TD.

Super Bowl LI will be played on Feb. 5 in Houston. The Falcons will play the winner of Sunday’s AFC title game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

Atlanta Falcons advance to Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons earned a spot in Super Bowl LI by beating the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

Wiley’s Breakout Performance is Difference in Beating Bama

Julie Bennett/al.com

“I really wanted to beat them,” Auburn freshman Austin Wiley said after he led the Tigers in crushing Alabama 84-64 in the Iron Bowl of Basketball. “We played a great game today.”

The son of Auburn Basketball legends grew up a Tiger dreaming of the day he could wear the orange and blue. His father, Aubrey, led the SEC in rebounding in 1993-94 and his mother Vickie Orr was an All-American in 1992.

Although he has only been on the Plains two months, he’s already making his presence felt. The 6′ 11″ Wiley has become the Tigers floor general; running the floor, rebounding, blocking shots, and scoring inside. In a performance reminisce of his father, Wiley pulled down nine rebounds Saturday night and scored a career-high 20 points against the Tide.

While any victory over the guys from West Vance is a good one, this one came at a particularly opportune time. It was the Tigers (13-6 3-4) third victory after a disappointing 1-4 start to SEC play. And it came against a Tide team that had won six of the last eight and was trying to complete it’s first opening three-game SEC road win streak in 20 years.

Alabama led most of the first half but the score was tied 30 all at the break. Then Wiley took charge pouring in 15 points including an electrifying dunk. It was a breakout performance for a man with so much Auburn heritage and it had to be a dream come true.

“I really just wanted to beat them, for real, because I grew up in the rivalry,” Austin said. “I just wanted to continue the legacy and beat Alabama.” And he so in front of a sold out Auburn Arena.

Coach Bruce Pearl said, “This game means a lot to Austin, coming from Birmingham, understanding the rivalry. This is bragging rights thing for him, his dad and his mom … he was an enormous difference.”

The post Wiley’s Breakout Performance is Difference in Beating Bama appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Auburn commits share 1st impressions of offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey after official visits

Chip Lindsey was named Auburn's new offensive coordinator during the Tigers' biggest recruiting weekend, giving several commits their first opportunity to meet him before signing day.

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An alert popped up on the phone of Austin Troxell’s brother on Saturday morning. It was from the ESPN app: Auburn was hiring Chip Lindsey as its offensive coordinator.

This was news to Troxell, as well as fellow Auburn commits Calvin Ashley, Noah Igbinoghene and Alaric Williams, all of whom were on their official visit to campus this weekend. Head coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday that the “timing was good” for making the hire, especially considering this was Auburn’s biggest recruiting weekend with a dozen prospects on official visits.

That, of course, provided Lindsey an opportunity to make a first impression with a handful of his future players, as well as make inroads with uncommitted recruits still considering Auburn as National Signing Day looms in 10 days. First impressions go a long way, and that was certainly the case this weekend on the Plains.

“I was actually really happy,” said Williams, a four-star athlete who will play running back at Auburn. “… I was really happy about that. I knew they’d find somebody good, whether it was him or not, I knew they were going to get somebody good.”

The addition of Lindsey earned solid reviews from Auburn commits after the players got a chance to get to know their new offensive coordinator. Both Troxell, a four-star offensive tackle, and Igbinoghene, a four-star receiver, admitted they weren’t too familiar with Lindsey’s background when they heard the news.

Once they got to speak with him and spend time with him on campus this weekend, however, they were impressed — both from a coaching standpoint and a personal one.

A look at Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s recruiting background

“Just talking to him the first time I saw him he was just a very nice guy,” Igbinoghene said. “You can see he cares about all of us and he loves all of us, and I really like that.”

Williams said he found Lindsey, who came to Auburn from Arizona State, to be very personable and believed he will be the type of coach he can talk to about more than just football. Troxell, who hails from Madison Academy, said the two bonded over their shared background. Lindsey grew up in Madison and went to school at Bob Jones.

The Tigers’ new offensive coordinator has an extensive background coaching high schools in both Alabama and Georgia and in a short time has earned a reputation as a budding offensive mind with an Air Raid background and a knack for developing quarterbacks. That did not go unnoticed among Auburn’s visitors this weekend.

“He’s a great coach; his background speaks for itself,” said Ashley, a five-star tackle commit. “I can’t wait to get back to work this summer. It’s going to be a great season for Auburn.”

Gus Malzahn ‘retiring’ offensive clipboard as Chip Lindsey takes over Auburn’s offense

While most of the time was spent getting to know Lindsey on a personal level and getting relationships started, there was some talk of X’s and O’s between recruits and the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator. Malzahn said Saturday that Lindsey will have full control of the offense and play-calling, and while the two share similar philosophies, there will be some adjustments to the scheme.

As a receiver, Igbinoghene was understandably excited about the prospect of a more pass-heavy offense, while Lindsey also spent time talking to Williams about how he likes to incorporate his running backs into the offense.

Lindsey did apparently make one thing clear to Auburn’s commits this weekend: Although the offense will be tweaked, the Tigers — who led the SEC in rushing last season — are not going to change their identity on that side of the ball.

“Just that nothing much was going to change,” Troxell said. “Running the ball was going to be No. 1, because that’s what we’re good at here.”

Auburn commits share 1st impressions of offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey after official visits

Chip Lindsey was named Auburn’s new offensive coordinator during the Tigers’ biggest recruiting weekend, giving several commits their first opportunity to meet him before signing day.

How Chip Lindsey’s college offenses compared statistically to Auburn

A statistical look at Chip Lindsey's college offenses

Chip Lindsey’s college offenses have been more productive through the air, and for the past two years, scored more points, than Auburn has under coach Gus Malzahn and former offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

A look at Lindsey’s offenses at Southern Miss (2014-15) and Arizona State (2016) and even Troy’s passing game when he was quarterbacks coach in 2010, shows his clear preference to attack through the air. That should come as welcome news to an Auburn fan base that has watched a stagnant passing game fall to its lowest levels of production since 2012.

In two of his three years as a college offensive coordinator, Lindsey’s teams struggled mightily running the ball. Even when Southern Miss had two 1,000 rushers in 2015, its season average was well below Auburn’s, which had the worst year running the ball in Malzahn’s college career.

How Lindsey manages to meld his preference to throw while not deviating from Auburn’s offensive identity as a “run, play-action team,” as Malzahn cited while introducing his new coordinator, will be watched as he goes about “spicing up” the offense.

What Gus Malzahn was looking for in OC, thinks he’s found in Chip Lindsey

RUSHING OFFENSE
2014: Auburn 255.5 (13th)/Southern Miss 95.8 (121st)
2015: Auburn 196.4 (35th)/Southern Miss 179.8 (54th)
2016: Auburn 271.3 (6th)/Arizona State 131.5 (112th)

PASSING OFFENSE
2010: Auburn 214.43 (66th)/Troy 296.85 (11th)
2014: Auburn 229.5 (66th)/Southern Miss 269.3 (33rd)
2015: Auburn 173.6 (110th)/Southern Miss 329.7 (12th)
2016: Auburn 169.5 (112th)/Arizona State 259.3 (39th)

PASSING YARDS PER COMPLETION
2010: Auburn 15.47/Troy 11.35*
2014: Auburn 14.35 (16th)/Southern Miss 11.66 (79th)
2015: Auburn 12.61 (55th)/Southern Miss 13.66 (31st)
2016: Auburn 12.38 (68th)/Arizona State 12.11 (75th)

PASS EFFICIENCY OFFENSE
2010: Auburn 180.52 (1st)/Troy 140.74 (36th)*
2014: Auburn 156.79 (8th)/Southern Miss 117.14 (94th)
2015: Auburn 124.47 (79th)/Southern Miss 157.01 (16th)
2016: Auburn 135.17 (54th)/Arizona State 127.79 (73rd)

TOTAL OFFENSE
2010: Auburn 499.21 (7th)/Troy 453.46 (17th)*
2014: Auburn 485.0 (16th)/Southern Miss 365 (97th)
2015: Auburn 370.0 (94th)/Southern Miss 509.5 (12th)
2016: Auburn 440.8 (43rd)/Arizona State 390.8 (81st)

SCORING OFFENSE
2010: Auburn 41.21 (7th)/Troy 34.08 (20th)*
2014: Auburn 35.5 (35th)/Southern Miss 19.0 (114th)
2015: Auburn 27.5 (75th)/Southern Miss 39.9 (13th)
2016: Auburn 31.2 (49th)/Arizona State 33.3 (40th)

SACKS ALLOWED
2014: Auburn 15 sacks, 1.15 per game (15th)/Southern Miss 36 sacks, 3.0 per game (109th)
2015: Auburn 19 sacks, 1.46 per game (33rd)/Southern Miss 26 sacks, 1.86 per game (54th)
2016: Auburn 19 sacks, 1.46 per game (27th)/Arizona State 41 sacks, 3.42 per game (112th)

TACKLES FOR LOSS ALLOWED
2014: Auburn 74 TFLs, 5.69 per game (55th)/Southern Miss 85 TFLs, 7.08 per game (114th)
2015: Auburn 65 TFLs, 5.0 per game (24th)/Southern Miss 66 TFLs, 4.71 (16th)
2016: Auburn 73 TFLs, 5.62 per game (56th)/Arizona State 90 TFLs, 7.50 per game (114th)

FIRST DOWNS
2014: Auburn 314 (21st)/Southern Miss 249 (82nd)
2015: Auburn 257 (69th)/Southern Miss 324 (20th)
2016: Auburn 286 (45th)/Arizona State 244 (95th)

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS
2014: Auburn 52.5 percent (2nd)/Southern Miss 34.6 percent (103rd)
2015: Auburn 41.3 percent (49th)/Southern Miss 46.2 percent (19th)
2016: Auburn 41.8 percent (53rd)/Arizona State 38.1 percent (85th)

RED ZONE OFFENSE
2014: Auburn 87.9 percent (31st)/Southern Miss 76.9 percent (98th)
2015: Auburn 90.2 percent (13th)/Southern Miss 80.8 percent (90th)
2016: Auburn 85.5 percent (52nd)/Arizona State 91.5 percent (11th)

TURNOVERS LOST
2014: Auburn 20 (44th)/Southern Miss 26 (98th)
2015: Auburn 17 (31st)/Southern Miss 25 (104th)
2016: Auburn 14 (12th)/Arizona State 21 (82nd)

* – Lindsey was quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2010

How Chip Lindsey’s college offenses compared statistically to Auburn

A statistical look at Chip Lindsey’s college offenses

Why Auburn has Chase Lasater’s offer on hold

Lasater took his official visit to Auburn this weekend

Why Auburn has Chase Lasater’s offer on hold

Lasater took his official visit to Auburn this weekend

When Auburn offered Chase Lasater a scholarship last month, Rhett Lashlee was the team’s offensive coordinator.Lashlee has since left for Connecticut, and Auburn replaced him Saturday morning by hiring Chip Lindseyaway from Arizona State.

That leaves Lasater playing the waiting game as Lindsey reviews the H-back target’s film to determine if the offer is still committable.

“They offered me a few weeks ago at practice, but I would like to know 100 percent with a letter of intent and all that,” Lasater said Sunday after his official visit to Auburn. “Once I have that, then most definitely I’ll be out here.

“I don’t want to commit because I don’t want to throw out my other options. I just want to know it’s a 100 percent thing before I do make a final decision as I would with any school.”

The other H-back Auburn was targeting in this class, Spanish Fort star Thomas Johnston, eliminated the Tigers from his recruitment during a visit to Ole Miss Sunday.

Johnston down to 3 finalists

Lasater is also considering Michigan, where he was committed from March to October of last year, as well as Miami and Memphis. The Jacksonville, Fla., nativesaid he wants to “stay down South” to avoid cold weather while in college.

“As of now I’m pretty sure Auburn’s my main school,” Lasater said. “They love the way I play, they love my film.

“They’re going to give me a call tomorrow and then fly out and then pretty much I’ll know if I’m going to play here to not.”

The 6-foot-2, 224-pounder said Lindsey recruited him while he was at Arizona State, and he enjoyed the time he spent with him at Auburn Sunday.

“I’ve talked to him on Twitter and then very briefly today,” Lasater said. “He seems like a cool guy. He seems like a nice guy.

“I was wondering what type of scheme he’s going to run and he was saying spread and power. I like the power, of course, playing H-back… It’s just how I’ve played football since I was a little kid. When someone’s in the way you have to hit them, it’s just how I play ball — I don’t know much else.”

Lasater said he may take a final official visit to Memphis next weekend, but hasn’t decided for sure.

“Honestly I had a great time (at Auburn) meeting all the players, the coaching staff,” he said. “Love the family atmosphere out here, it was great. Beautiful campus. Everything down South. I had a great time.”

Two teams lead for St. Paul’s 4-star defensive end Ryan Johnson as decision nears

Johnson will make his college decision before National Signing Day.

Two teams lead for St. Paul’s 4-star defensive end Ryan Johnson as decision nears

Johnson will make his college decision before National Signing Day.

With a commitment imminent before National Signing Day, two schools currently stand out for four-star St. Paul’sdefensive end Ryan Johnson.

Fresh off his official visit to Auburn this weekend, Johnson said his top two schools heading into the homestretch of his recruitment are Auburn and Stanford. Johnson, rated as the No. 8 strong-side defensive end in the nation according to 247Sports composite rankings, entered the weekend with a top fiveof Auburn, Stanford, Texas, Southern California and Alabama.

“Right now, since I’ve been to Auburn and Stanford, I’m going to definitely say Auburn and Stanford right now, so those two are definitely my top two right now,” Johnson said Sunday.

While Johnson still has hopes of visiting Texas and USC, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder said he is no longer considering Alabama — a school he was scheduled to officially visit next weekend — because the Tide have “too many people” at his position.

Johnson will host Stanford coaches for an in-home visit on Tuesday in Mobile, followed by an in-home visit from Auburn’s coaching staff on Wednesday. He will then either make a verbal commitment to a program on Friday or next Monday, just two days before National Signing Day.

As it stands, things are fairly close between the Cardinal and the Tigers.

“Right now they’re pretty even, honestly,” Johnson said. “Both are really good schools, so I’m just trying to figure it all out.”

Where Auburn stands with top uncommitted targets

Johnson found out on Friday that he was officially accepted to Stanford — making the idea of heading west for his college career that much more intriguing. Had he not been accepted to the university, the lifelong Auburn fan would have no hesitation with choosing to spend the next three or four years at Auburn.

“That makes things a whole lot harder now,” Johnson said. “If that wasn’t in the equation, it would be Auburn as the lead right now, but with them right now, it’s hard.”

Johnson took his official visit to Stanford last week, while this weekend marked his first trip back to the Plains since Sept. 17 for the Texas A&M game. While Johnson said his visit went “great” and he talked about the relationships he has with several current Auburn players, he added that he never felt any pressure or urge to make a commitment this weekend.

“Not trying to make any hasty decisions… so I’m not going to try to jump the bandwagon,” Johnson said. “I’m just going to go home and write down the pros and cons and see where I’m at from there.”

One pro that’s in Auburn’s favor is the fact that the Tigers were the first to extend a scholarship offer to Johnson back on Feb. 25, 2015. Since that day, he said, Auburn’s coaching staff has always made him feel “like a priority.”

As signing day nears, Johnson is without a doubt Auburn’s top priority as the team looks to add an elite pass-rusher to help create depth along the defensive line and fill the void left by Carl Lawson’s early departure for the NFL.

Of course, there are some other factors for Johnson to consider these next few days as he weighs his college options.

“Somewhere I’m comfortable with, somewhere if I get hurt, I can see myself there taking regular classes, getting along with the people in the school and the coaches, somewhere with a winning program,” Johnson said. “Nobody likes losing, so I got to go somewhere I can win.”

Auburn target Tyler Taylor has 2 finalists, expects to commit this week

Taylor took an official visit to Auburn this weekend

Linebacker Tyler Taylor has 2 finalists, expects to commit this week

Taylor took an official visit to Auburn this weekend

Following his official visit to Auburn this weekend, Tyler Taylor is closing in on a decision.

“I think it’s going to be between Auburn and LSU,” said the four-star linebacker at Lanier High School in Buford, Ga. “I know I have a few more home visits, (Auburn) is bringing the defensive staff in I think this week right before I commit. I’ll probably be letting the coaches know at least around Thursday.”

Taylor had previously listed Auburn and Oklahoma as his top schools, but LSU made a big push for him during his official visit to Baton Rouge last weekend. Members of the Auburn and LSU coaching staffs are expected to take in-home visits to see Taylor early this week.

“With the depth chart, they were telling me how they really need linebackers,” Taylor said of LSU. “I really have no choice but to play there. They’re not giving it to me, you have to work for it.”

Taylor is ranked as a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 10 inside linebacker in the 247Sports Composite. Should he land at Auburn, he said the Tigers plan to play him at both inside and outside linebacker.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is the former teammate of Auburn freshman defensive lineman Derrick Brown, and the two spent time together during Taylor’s visit.

“It was fun,” Taylor said. “(Brown) really tried not to talk to me about recruiting and stuff. He said ‘I don’t want to put no pressure on you, I want you to make the best decision for you.’ But this week he was putting it on. It was fun.”

Taylorsaid the most important factor in his decision is the relationship he has with the coaches at each school. He enjoyed the time he spent with Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and continues to get closer to linebackers coach Travis Williams.

“My visit, I really liked it,” he said. “I had a real talk with Coach Steele this morning. He really was just spitting out facts to me and telling me how it’s going to be. He’s not promising me nothing, but he was like ‘As long as you work hard we’re going to take care of you’ and all that.

“I like the fact that (Williams) is real young. I feel like you can learn something from somebody who’s closer to your age.”

Auburn currently has three linebackers committed to its 2017 recruiting class — K.J. Britt, Chandler Wooten and T.D. Moultry. Britt and Wooten are already enrolled in classes.

Auburn 2017 commits

Ronnie Johnson provides veteran presence for young Auburn team in win over Alabama

For much of Auburn’s freshmen core, Saturday’s game inside Auburn Arena had probably the most raucous atmosphere they have ever experienced as a player.

In-state recruit eliminates Auburn from contention, down to 3

Thomas Johnston wants to play linebacker at the next level, not H-back

Thomas Johnston will not be playing his college football at Auburn.

Afterhis official visit to Ole Miss this weekend, theSpanish Fort linebacker told Scout.comhe has eliminated the Tigers from his recruitment and is down to Arkansas, Iowa and Ole Miss.

Auburn was the only school of the four that was recruiting him at H-back. The others want him as a linebacker, the positionhe’s thrived at by becoming the state of Alabama’s all-time tackler leader.

“I called and told Auburn that i’m going somewhere that wants me at linebacker,” Johnston told Scout. “I’ve grown up playing linebacker and I love defense. I love hitting people. The opportunity to go to Auburn is awesome, but I’m doing what’s best for me.”

Johnston took his official visit to Auburn last weekend, and head coach Gus Malzahn asked for his commitment at H-back. After some initial hesitation, he eventually opened up to the idea.

“At first I wanted nothing to do with it,” Johnston last weekend. “Then I looked into it — I mean, Chandler (Cox) gets that ball a lot and that makes it fun. Going to games at Auburn, I mean, they’re exciting. Being able to play in front of your state says a lot.”

Johnston plans to announce his commitment on Thursday. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounderis ranked as a three-star prospect and the nation’s No. 23 outside linebacker in the 247Sports Composite.He finishedhis five-year high school career with 675 total tackles, including 195 as a senior.

The Tigers are hosting H-back target Chase Lasater for an official visit this weekend.

Is Auburn close to landing Lasater?

AL.com will update this post.

In-state recruit eliminates Auburn from contention, down to 3

Thomas Johnston wants to play linebacker at the next level, not H-back

SUNDAY Q&A: First-year coach Bobby Reynolds wants to change the way people think about Auburn men’s tennis

When Bobby Reynolds was named the next head coach of the Auburn men’s tennis program in August, he brought with him to the Plains a set of career accomplishments that many of the players he’ll recruit will likely one day…

Chip Lindsey ‘excited’ about chance to work with, develop Auburn’s quarterbacks

Chip Lindsey's history of developing and evaluating quarterbacks was a key reason Gus Malzahn sought him to be Auburn's new offensive coordinator.

Watch video

Gus Malzahn embarked on a search for Auburn’s next offensive coordinator with three criteria in mind. When it came time to introduce Chip Lindsey as the new man behind the Tigers’ offenseon Saturday, the first factor Malzahn mentioned was the ability to “develop and evaluate quarterbacks.”

After two seasons of uneven and often disappointing play behind center for the Tigers, Malzahn hopes Lindsey’s experience working with signal-callers can help alleviate those troubles heading into 2017.

“Bottom line is I was looking for the best person for this job that would give us the best chance at being successful” Malzahn said. “Chip Lindsey fit all three (criteria). I’ve actively seen him develop quarterbacks; he’s very good at that. He’s very good at evaluating quarterbacks.”

Lindsey, who along with being Auburn’s offensive coordinator will also serve as the team’s quarterbacks coach, has a resume highlighted with impressive development of quarterbacks during his budding career as an offensive coach.

While at Lassiter High in Georgia from 2008-09, Lindsey helped with the emergence of quarterback Hutson Mason, who went on to play at Georgia. In his senior season in 2009, Mason rewrote the Georgia high school record book, breaking every state single-season passing record, including yards (4,560) and touchdowns (54) while earning Parade All-America honors.

During his first year of college coaching as Troy’s quarterbacks coach in 2010, Lindsey helped turn freshman Corey Robinson into the top passer in the Sun Belt, and the conference’s Freshman of the Year, that season. Under Lindsey’s tutelage, Robinson led the conference in passing yards with 3,707 (10th nationally), 28 touchdowns (tied for 14th nationally) and a 138.07 quarterback rating (38th nationally) while completing 63.5 percent of his passes (31st nationally).

Malzahn ‘retiring’ offensive clipboard as Lindsey takes over Auburn’s offense

Lindsey’s guidance was also crucial to the development of Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens, whom Lindsey also coached at Spain Park High, during the 2014-15 seasons when Lindsey was the offensive coordinator in Hattiesburg. Mullens was particularly effective in 2015, when he became the first Southern Miss player to be named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year.

That season, Mullens passed for 4,476 yards and 38 touchdowns (against 12 interceptions) while completing 63.5 percent of his passes for the Golden Eagles. Mullens ranked second, second and fourth in the conference in those categories, respectively, while ranking sixth nationally in yardage, tied for fourth in touchdowns and tied for 27th in completion percentage. He was also 14th nationally in quarterback rating that season with a 155.15 mark.

While with Arizona State last season, Lindsey’s success at quarterback was hindered by a string of injuries that had the Sun Devils lose one quarterback during fall camp while three others started at least one game during the season. Despite that, sophomore Manny Wilkins — who started 10 games at quarterback — finished fifth in the Pac-12 in passing yards per game (232.9) and fourth in completion percentage (63.3 percent).

Lindsey described his philosophy when it comes to coaching quarterbacks during his introductory press conference at Auburn on Saturday evening.

“I think the most important thing is to give those guys a plan, give them a plan every play where they know where to go with the ball,” Lindsey said. “You’ve got to get the ball out of your hand and understand protection. Obviously their footwork and everything that goes along fundamentally with playing the position is extremely important and those are things I want to make sure those guys are really good at.

“Making sure they know where to go with the ball, that’s my job. I’m excited about the opportunity to be here with these guys.”

RELATED:Who is Chip Lindsey? 10 things to know about Auburn’s new OC

Auburn’s quarterbacks seemed to be equally excited to work with Lindsey, especially after the team’s recent struggles at the position the last two seasons when Jeremy Johnson, Sean White and John Franklin III all saw time behind center. Auburn finished last in the SEC in passing offense last season after ranking 12th in the league in 2015.

“We need to be more balanced,” Malzahn said. “We need to throw the ball more effectively. Chip will bring that. I’m excited about our passing game. He will bring some new ideas, some new wrinkles, new flairs. He’s got a great offensive mind. I think it will complement our run game.”

Lindsey is hoping the infusion of his offensive philosophy and his history of quarterback development will help change that in 2017 while working with White, Franklin, junior college transfer Jarrett Stidham and redshirt freshman Woody Barrett, who will be part of an open competition for the starting job this offseason. White, Stidham (whom Lindsey heavily recruited to Arizona State this fall) and Barrett all took to social media on Saturday to express their excitementabout their new position coach and offensive coordinator.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know really all four of those guys that are here now,” Lindsey said. “This spring is going to be fun.”

Chip Lindsey ‘excited’ about chance to work with, develop Auburn’s quarterbacks

Chip Lindsey’s history of developing and evaluating quarterbacks was a key reason Gus Malzahn sought him to be Auburn’s new offensive coordinator.

Brandon King finds his NFL niche with New England Patriots

Brandon King wasn’t a star at Auburn. In two seasons with the Tigers, he never started a game. But the former Thompson High School standout heads into Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots game one win from going to the Super Bowl.

Brandon King finds his NFL niche with New England Patriots

Brandon King wasn't a star at Auburn. In two seasons with the Tigers, he never started a game. But the former Thompson High School standout heads into Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots game one win from going to the Super Bowl.

Brandon King wasn’t a star at Auburn. In two seasons with the Tigers, he never started a game. Kingmade a total of 19 tackles in his career, mostly as a safety, althoughhe also pitched in at defensive end in the second half of his senior season in 2014.

Naturally, King wasn’t selected in the NFL Draft. But King heads into Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots game one win from going to the Super Bowl.

King has found his niche in the NFL – playing on special teams for the Patriots. In 29 regular-season games with New England, King hasn’t played a snap with the Patriots’ defense. But he’s been on the field for 566 special-teams plays.

His value in that role was evident last week. In New England’s 34-16 playoff victory over the Houston Texans, King was in on the key block that helped spring running back Dion Lewis for a 98-yard touchdown on a kickoff return in the first quarter.

“A lot of good blocking,” New England coach Bill Belichick said of the TD return during an appearance on WEEI-FM in Boston. “It started with the double-team with Brandon Bolden and Brandon King.”

A former Thompson High standout, King landed a spot on the Patriots’ practice squad as an undrafted rookie out of training camp in 2015. On Oct. 10, 2015, the Patriots put King on the active roster. The safety played in every game the rest of the season and showed an aptitude for covering kicks by making 12 tackles.

“I don’t see stars on this team,” King said. “Everyone comes here and everyone works the same way. Everyone gets the same respect. If you don’t do things right, you get the same treatment. No one has any favoritism. There’s no in-between. There’s no complaining. It’s just, ‘You’re here. You’re going to work your butt off, and when you leave, you can relax.

“And everyone understands that we have a big goal in mind. We’re trying to make it to the ultimate goal. But right not it’s just step-by-step. You can’t go further than the day that you’re in. Just day-by-day. We’ve been doing that and now we’re at the end of the season. We’ll just continue to work and try to keep things going the right way.”

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OURNFL PAGE

The Patriots host Pittsburgh at 5:40 p.m. CST Sunday in the AFC championship game. The winner of the game will advance to Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston.

What will Auburn’s offense look like under new OC Chip Lindsey?

Sitting next to just the second offensive coordinator he has ever hired as a collegiate head coach on Saturday, Gus Malzahn made clear that his decision to cede offensive play calling duties to Rhett Lashlee during the early part of…

Highlights of Auburn’s 84-64 Win over Alabama

It wasn’t pretty at the start, but Auburn stuck around. Despite giving Alabama tons, and I mean TONS of second chances and possessions, Auburn slowly took the lead, built the lead, held on to the lead, and then extended the lead to end the game.

This was an exciting one, but anytime you beat Alabama by 20, it’s a good day. Oh, and Austin Wiley is now a man.


What recruits are saying during official visits to Auburn

Auburn is hosting a number of top commits and targets this weekend

Auburn is hosting 12 recruits for official visits this weekend,eight commits and four targets.

During their time on the Plains, many have chimed in on social media to give fans a glimpse of the experience.

Check out what the recruits are saying below, and stay tuned to AL.com Sunday for coverage of their visits.

Why Auburn’s happy with the timing of Chip Lindsey’s hire

Safety commit Jordyn Peters:

My Dream coming together. [?] [?] #WDE pic.twitter.com/wF8p4ZGbMZ

— Jordyn Peters (@KingPete_x) January 22, 2017

This is Home ! #WDE pic.twitter.com/W9ROqO5Eyh

— Jordyn Peters (@KingPete_x) January 21, 2017

Offensive line commit Calvin Ashley:

Two great guys and one heck of a coach! Future is very bright for Auburn football. #WDE pic.twitter.com/rX1ATYbmST

— Calvin Ashley (@whiteboii_Cali) January 22, 2017

I love Auburn university

— Calvin Ashley (@whiteboii_Cali) January 21, 2017

H-back target Chase Lasater:

Loving Auburn pic.twitter.com/3XOHHd2Jq7

— Chase Lasater (@ChaseLasater) January 22, 2017

Safety commit Carlito Gonzalez:

All AUBURN official visitors head to the complex first

— Carlito Gonzalez [?] [?] (@osama_binlito) January 20, 2017

My New DB coached Coached Haha Clinton Dix And Landon Collins [?] [?] [?] [?] #Ambush17 Enjoyimg This Meet And Greet

— Carlito Gonzalez [?] [?] (@osama_binlito) January 21, 2017
//

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Receiver commit Noah Igbinoghene:

Auburn, AL[?]

— Noah Igbinoghene (@Noah_Igbo9) January 20, 2017

Defensive line target Ryan Johnson:

[?] [?] [?] On the way to the plains for my OV[?] [?] [?]

— Ryan Johnson 44 (@ryanjohnson_50) January 20, 2017

Cornerback commit Traivon Leonard:

Gotta fly in style [?] pic.twitter.com/F5qFG3VBXz

— Tray Leonard (@Tray_leonard) January 20, 2017

Athlete commit Alaric Williams:

WDE [?] [?] [?] . pic.twitter.com/iXB8FDEmTl

— Alaric Williams (@Alaric_8) January 20, 2017

What recruits are saying during official visits to Auburn

Auburn is hosting a number of top commits and targets this weekend

Gus Malzahn believes he’s found the criteria he wanted in Chip Lindsey

There were three things Gus Malzahn wanted to find in searching for his second offensive coordinator at the college level.

The criteria Gus Malzahn wanted, believes he’s found in Chip Lindsey

There were three things Gus Malzahn wanted to find in searching for his second offensive coordinator at the college level.

There were three things Gus Malzahn wanted in searching for his second offensive coordinator at the college level.

Malzahn wanted a coach who could develop and evaluate quarterbacks, someone he was “comfortable turning over the offense to,” and a philosophical fit with being an uptempo, “run, play-action” team.

After searching for nine and a half days – Auburn’s search for Malzahn was shorter – and after talking with “numerous people,” hehired Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, a former analyst at Auburn and longtime high school coach in the state of Alabama and Georgia.

RELATED: Who is Chip Lindsey? 10 things to know about Auburn’s new OC

“Bottom line is I was looking for the best person for this job that would give us the best chance at being successful; Chip Lindsey fit all three (criteria),” Malzahn said. “I’ve actively seen him develop quarterbacks; he’s very good at that. He’s very good at evaluating quarterbacks. I feel very comfortable with Chip; I’ve got a lot of trust that he can do it. And then he fits within my philosophy.

“The thing with Chip is he had his own offense that he’s been very successful with. He understands — he was with me a year and he understands the core philosophy. I’m very excited about him coming in and kind of spicing up our offense.”

Gus Malzahn gets ‘his’ man and rests his future on new OC Chip Lindsey

Malzahn insisted he had a “very open mind” in the course of a search that included overtures at least to Oregon’s Mark Helfrich, Oklahoma State’s Mike Yurcich, Texas A&M’s Noel Mazzone and several other prominent names rumored to have been associated with the job.

“I wanted to take my time, by design,” Malzahn said. “… Talked to some very good people, very talented people. At the end of the day, Chip Lindsey is the guy that fit these three (criteria) that I felt very comfortable with and gives us the best chance of being successful.”

RELATED: Why Auburn’s happy with the timing of Chip Lindsey’s hire

The balance of power within Auburn’s program became a subplot of the search, but Malzahn said he, the administration and other powerbrokers of the program are “all on the same page.”

Those people with influence over the program, as well as many Tigers fans, wanted the hire to come from outside Malzahn’s coaching tree.

Though he spent a year working with Malzahn in 2013, Lindsey said he’s bringing components of Malzahn’s offense together with his own over the past three years while at Southern Miss (2014-15) and Arizona State.

“Obviously, we had a relationship,” Lindsey said. “He recruited some of my players to different places I’ve been, Philip (Lutzenkirchen) being one of them. At the end of the day, when I got here, to be honest with you, it took a lot of learning for me to learn what he did. I think we did a nice job in the last two places I’ve been of kind of meshing some things together. That’s what we plan on doing here.

“Obviously, Auburn has been good on offense before and done some things that are really good. We’re not going to lose touch with those things. But I think a few new wrinkles and a little different personality on it maybe will lead to a lot of success.”

Gus Malzahn ‘retiring’ offensive clipboard as Chip Lindsey takes over Auburn’s offense

As to Lindsey’s relative lack of experience at the Power 5 level, Malzahn cited his own background as evidence it can and will work out for Auburn this fall.

“Chip is in a similar situation that I was when I came here in 2009 (from Tulsa),” Malzahn said. “I think I had three years experience before I came here, he’s actually got one more than me.

“At the end of the day, there wasn’t an exact (deadline to make a hire). I just wanted to make sure I have the best guy. When I came to that conclusion, we hired Chip Lindsey.”

‘Dream come true’ – Auburn introduces offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
'Dream come true' – Auburn introduces offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
“You've got to be able to run the football to win,” Lindsey said. “We were really successful two years ago (at Southern Miss) doing that, and it just opened up our entire offense. I know what Auburn's made of. Auburn's made of hard work, blue collar …
Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinatorESPN
Auburn to hire Chip Lindsey as its new offensive coordinatorFOXSports.com
Chip Lindsey Named Auburn OC: Latest Contract Details, Comments and ReactionBleacher Report
FanRag Sports (blog)-College and Magnolia-The Spun (press release) (blog)
all 75 news articles

Gus Malzahn ‘retiring’ offensive clipboard as Chip Lindsey takes over Auburn’s offense

Gus Malzahn said he is relinquishing control of Auburn's offense to new coordinator Chip Lindsey and that the rest of the Tigers' offensive coaching staff will remain in the same role as last season.

Watch video

Gus Malzahn’s play-calling days appear to be behind him for good.

With the hiring of former Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey as Auburn’s next offensive coordinatorand quarterbacks coach on Saturday, Malzahn made that much abundantly clear.

“Chip is the quarterback coach and the offensive coordinator,” Malzahn said Saturday during Lindsey’s introductory press conference. “I think I told him — my old offensive clipboard, I’m retiring it. That’s probably the best way to answer that.”

What exactly does that mean for the dynamic between Malzahn and his new protege as they embark on their second stint together? For one, Lindsey will have full control of Auburn’s offensive play-calling duties, similar to the role Rhett Lashlee had last yearafter Auburn’s 1-2 start to the season.

It also means Lindsey, whose strong resume includes extensive work developing quarterbacks, will handle the day-to-day coaching with Auburn’s quarterbacks next season. That group includes returning starter Sean White, JUCO transfer and former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham, John Franklin III and redshirt freshman Woody Barrett.

Gus Malzahn gets ‘his’ man and rests his future on new OC Chip Lindsey

Lindsey will hold the same titles Lashlee did while at Auburn, though it appears that the Tigers’ newest staff member will have free rein with both the offense and the quarterbacks. Lindsey said the ability to have total control of the offense was “extremely important” in his decision to return to Auburn, where he spent the 2013 season as an offensive analyst on Malzahn’s staff.

“That’s something that he and I talked about at length,” Lindsey said. “I’m very confident that this is going to be a great situation. He’s given me every opportunity to be successful and this is my responsibility. He hired me to do a job and I’m looking forward to doing it.”

It’s a change of course for Malzahn, who until late September has always had a hand in running his teams’ offenses. He has always been seen on sidelines during gamedays with a clipboard featuring the phrase “war eagle” emblazoned on it, and when practices have been open to the media in the past, he has often been seen working hands on with quarterbacks.

“I’m not going to carry that (clipboard) anymore,” Malzahn said. “I retired it officially, so that kind of tells you where I’m at, how much confidence I have in this guy right here.”

In adding Lindsey as Auburn’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Malzahn said he has completed his offensive staff for the 2017 season and the returning offensive staff will remain in the same roles as last season. That means Kodi Burns will remain as the wide receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator, Tim Horton will still handle the running backs, Scott Fountain will coach tight ends and H-backs, and Herb Hand will coach the offensive line.

“Chip is going to call the plays,” Malzahn said. “This is going to be Chip’s offense. This is going to be his responsibility. I have a lot of trust in him like I said. He’s going to do a great job.”

Gus Malzahn ‘retiring’ offensive clipboard as Chip Lindsey takes over Auburn’s offense

Gus Malzahn said he is relinquishing control of Auburn’s offense to new coordinator Chip Lindsey and that the rest of the Tigers’ offensive coaching staff will remain in the same role as last season.

Why Auburn’s happy with the timing of Chip Lindsey’s hire

Auburn took 10 days to find its next offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey, but head coach Gus Malzahn likes the timing of the hire.

Auburn took 10 days to find its next offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey, but head coach Gus Malzahn likes the timing of the hire.

Auburn is hosting several official visitors on campus this weekend as National Signing Day on Feb. 1 quickly approaches, and Malzahn touched on how important it is for the recruits to get to know the newest member on staff.

“I think the timing for us is good,” Malzahn said during Lindsey’s introductory press conference at Auburn Arena Saturday night. “The fact that it’s our biggest recruiting weekend and the fact that Chip’s going to get a chance to meet them face-to-face. A lot of them are already familiar with him, but at the same time I think the timing is good, and so that worked out pretty well.”

Auburn hires Lindsey as new O.C.

Auburn hired Lindsey away from Arizona State Saturday morning. He has just five years of experience in college football, including the 2013 season as an off-the-field Auburn analyst, but is very familiar with the recruiting grounds in the states of Alabama and Georgia.

Lindseycoached high school football in Alabama from 1997-2007 at Florence, Deshler, Springville, Sparkman, Colbert Heights and Hoover. He went on to be the head coach at Lassiter High School in Georgia for two seasons before returning to Alabama to become the head coach at Spain Park from 2011-12.

The state of Georgia has been a major source of recruits for Auburn for years. Since Malzahn became Auburn’s head coach in 2013, the Tigers have signed 29 players out of Georgia, more than any other state.

A look at Lindsey’s recruiting background

“I think it’s definitely a plus when you have familiarity with people and knowing coaches around both these states,” Lindsey said. “These are great states to play great high school football and that’s where Auburn’s made a living since I can remember. I’m excited to rekindle those relationships for sure.”

Of 12 recruits expected to officially visit Auburn this weekend, half are on the offensive side of the ball — commits Calvin Ashley, Noah Igbinoghene, Austin Troxell and Alaric Williams along with targets Chase Lasater and Oliver Martin. Malzahn did not respond whenasked whether Lindsey’s scheme changes the type of players he is recruiting.

Auburn’s big recruiting weekend includes several key visitors

Lindsey, who will also serve as quarterbacks coach, will not be tasked with recruiting any signal-callers in the 2017 recruiting cycle. Auburn’s two quarterback commits, Jarrett Stidham and Malik Willis are already enrolled on campus. The Tigers also hold a commitment from 2018 dual-threat quarterback Joey Gatewood, who was eager to find out how the Tigers would replace former coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

After Auburn personnel change, new offers, Gatewood reviews commitment

Malzahn feels Lindsey is not only a good fit for hisoffense, but a good fit on the recruiting trail as well.

“His resume about developing quarterbacks, his reputation in the state of Alabama and Georgia, especially among high school coaches,” Malzahn said. “Just the fact that he’s a great communicator, great person, and the type of coach you’d want your son to play for and have confidence developing at the highest level.”

Why Auburn’s happy with the timing of Chip Lindsey’s hire

Auburn took 10 days to find its next offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey, but head coach Gus Malzahn likes the timing of the hire.

What Chip Lindsey and Gus Malzahn said about Auburn’s new offensive coordinator

Live updates from new Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey's introductory press conference at Auburn Arena.

Gus Malzahn got his man. Ten days after former offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee accepted the same position at UConn, Auburn hired Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindseyas its next offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Lindsey, who spent a year on Malzahn’s staff in 2012 as an offensive analyst, will be introduced at a press conference at Auburn Arena following Auburn basketball’s 84-64 win against rival Alabama.

AL.com will provide live updates from Lindsey’s introductory press conference, which will also include remarks from Malzahn, in the space below, so be sure to refresh the page for all the latest information from the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator. This post will also be updated later in the day with full video of Lindsey’s press conference.

GUS MALZAHN

— Malzahn opens by congratulating Bruce Pearl and his team for its win against Alabama.

— Malzahn wanted someone who could develop and evaluate quarterbacks, someone he felt comfortable turning the offense over to and someone who had a similar offensive philosophy.

— Malzahn said he wanted to take his time to make the hire intentionally while finding the person who was the best fit for the job.

— Malzahn says Lindsey fit all three criteria and that he has his own offense while maintaining a similar philosophy to Malzahn.

— Malzahn calls the timing good, since it is Auburn’s biggest recruiting weekend. “That worked out pretty well.”

— Malzahn says Lindsey is in a similar situation Malzahn was in when he first came to Auburn as offensive coordinator.

— Malzahn said “we’re all on the same page” in regards to support of the administration and boosters.

— Malzahn says Lindsey will have complete control of the offense and play-calling.

— Malzahn said he has “retired” the clipboard and the offense is completely Lindsey’s.

— On Lindsey’s ability as a QB recruiter, Malzahn remarks on Lindsey’s resume developing quarterbacks and his relationships with high school coaches in Alabama.

— Malzahn tried to take a step back and “hire the best person for the job.” Said he had an open mind and wanted to talk to as many people as he could for the job, but it kept coming back to Lindsey.

— Malzahn says they’re “in a great spot” offensively heading into 2017 as far as returning talent and bringing in Lindsey.

CHIP LINDSEY

— Lindsey calls Auburn a “special” place and said he’s “extremely excited” to get started. His wife was a 30-year season-ticket holder at Auburn.

— On decision to return: “Being from here and the experience I had before, it was really a dream come true for me.”

— Lindsey thanks ASU coach Todd Graham for the opportunity in 2016.

— On his offensive philosophy: “Try to get the ball to your best players.”

— On rushing offense combined with his passing philosophy: “At the end of the day, we want to be a run, play-action team. That’s always what we’ve done… When you commit to that style of offense, get the ball to your playmakers,” you’re going to have success.

— Said he excited about the opportunity to work with Auburn’s quarterbacks.

— On passing concepts: “You got to be able to run the football to win, and I know that…. I know what Auburn’s made of… and that’s what we’re going to continue to try to do, maybe with some little wrinkles in our passing game.”

— On the importance of having free rein with the offense: “Extremely important.”

— On the Auburn offensive talent: “Familiar with some of them, just from being from the state.”

— “I think we did a nice job at the last two places I’ve been at meshing things together,” adds that he expects the same at Auburn.

AL.com will update this post.

What Chip Lindsey and Gus Malzahn said about Auburn’s new offensive coordinator

Live updates from new Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s introductory press conference at Auburn Arena.

Auburn’s Tony Stevens makes one-handed grab at East-West Shrine Game

Auburn's Tony Stevens capped a solid week of practice for the East-West Shrine Game with a one-handed grab.

Auburn’s Tony Stevens capped a solid week of practice for the East-West Shrine Game with a one-handed grab.

In one of two catches for 13 yards by Stevens in the annual all-star game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, he hauled in a six-yard toss from Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush.

Watch this 1-handed catch by #Auburn #WDE Tony Stevens at the #shrinegame pic.twitter.com/YDQl2leYbQ

— Big County Preps NL (@BCPnextlevel) January 22, 2017

Both of Stevens’ catches came on the same drive. He was targeted on one other throw.

The reviews for Stevens over the course of the week were mostly positive, especially when it came to physical ability.

“The bottom line on Stevens is this; he has the tools and ability to play on Sunday,” Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com wrote, “but I question whether he likes the physical contact of the sport. If the light goes on someone is going to get a steal.”

Former Auburn guard Alex Kozan also played in Saturday’s game, which the West team won 10-3.

Reviews were more mixed for him during practices.

“Kozan had a pretty average few days,” Pauline wrote. “He shined when it came to his leg strength. He had a strong low base in his pass sets and was hard to move when defenders attempted a bull rush. His run blocking, however, displayed poor technique. His steps were too long and he was unbalanced. Shortening his steps is an easy fix, but he also had trouble moving down the line when pulling and took a poor angle of pursuit towards defenders.

“Overall, Kozan did little to distinguish himself from the group of offensive linemen.”

Auburn’s Tony Stevens makes one-handed grab at East-West Shrine Game

Auburn’s Tony Stevens capped a solid week of practice for the East-West Shrine Game with a one-handed grab.

LIVE UPDATES: Auburn introduces new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey

After a 10-day search, Auburn will introduce Chip Lindsey as the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator.

Freshmen Austin Wiley, Mustapha Heron lift Auburn to win over rival Alabama

Austin Wiley should be a senior in high school right now. He enrolled at Auburn before the start of what should have been the final semester of his prep career. He just turned 18 earlier this month.

Gus Malzahn gets ‘his’ man and rests his future on new OC Chip Lindsey

If Lindsey doesn't work out as offensive coordinator, the next power struggle on the Plains won't be about Malzahn's staff. It'll be about his replacement.

First thought at the news that Auburn has hired Chip Lindsey away from Arizona State to replace the UConn-bound Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator and Jarrett Stidham’s personal tutor.

Looks like Gus Malzahn finally got his man.

No, you don’t understand.

“His” man, as opposed to a man suggested by his boss, AD Jay Jacobs, or a friend of the program who might prefer that the person in this position had never set foot on the Gus Bus before.

People familiar with the search, which moved more slowly than Auburn’s offense against Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma, said Lindsey was at or near the top of Malzahn’s original short list. Not everyone in the Auburn family with influence was thrilled because Lindsey doesn’t have a wealth of college coaching experience – a description that fits others on this staff – but the long-time Alabama high school coach did have some success at each stop.

Unfortunately, none of his stops in his four years as a full-time college assistant at Troy, Southern Miss and Arizona State came in the SEC.

Lindsey did spend the 2013 season as an analyst on the Plains, when the Tigers won the SEC and played for the BCS title and #AuburnFast was more than the empty slogan it’s become the last two years.

That one memorable season is the extent of Lindsey’s experience working for Malzahn. It doesn’t fully validate the running joke that Auburn would end up replacing Rhett Lashlee with Rhett Lashlee, but Malzahn didn’t exactly go outside the shadow of his own coaching tree for the most critical hire of his tenure.

It appears the powers that be are going to let him sink or swim with a staff heavily populated with his own people, with an offensive staff a bit light on SEC and Power 5 experience.

In the press release announcing the hire, Malzahn called Lindsey “a rising star.” He better be because his offense will be facing defenses coordinated by established stars such as Jeremy Pruitt, Dave Aranda and John Chavis.

Wait. Did I say “his” offense? Lindsey is going to face the same challenge Lashlee did in trying to revive an offense not fully his own. Too often in big games against quality opponents, Auburn has become a shadow of the attack Lindsey witnessed in 2013.

He’ll have two much larger responsibilities on his return. Develop Stidham into the next transfer answer at quarterback, and develop a working relationship with Malzahn that doesn’t force him to be a yes man.

Malzahn has lost his mojo as a play-caller, so much so that he did a shocking about-face before the LSU game last year when he turned that responsibility over to Lashlee. A six-game winning streak ensued, but there’s a belief that the head coach couldn’t keep his hands off the wheel down the stretch as the Tigers, beset by key injuries, hit the ditch.

That’s the next big question for Malzahn. Now that he’s won this battle to hire Lindsey, which role will the head coach play next season? Will he be the CEO he said after the LSU win that he has to be? Will he support Lindsey as a play-caller or wrestle with him?

Malzahn’s future as the Auburn head coach will depend a great deal on those answers. If Lindsey is the rising star Malzahn believes and the Tigers can get back to hanging big numbers on opponents with a pulse, this could be the bounce-back season Malzahn needs. There’s no shortage of SEC and Power 5 experience on the Auburn defensive staff.

But what if this offense continues to struggle against the better teams on the schedule and puts too much pressure on Kevin Steele’s defense? What if the Tigers go oh for Clemson, Georgia and Alabama again?

In that case, the next power struggle on the Plains won’t center on Malzahn’s staff. It’ll be all about his replacement.

Gus Malzahn gets ‘his’ man and rests his future on new OC Chip Lindsey

If Lindsey doesn’t work out as offensive coordinator, the next power struggle on the Plains won’t be about Malzahn’s staff. It’ll be about his replacement.

How Auburn players, coaches reacted to Chip Lindsey hire

Lindsey was hired Saturday morning

Auburn found a new offensive coordinator Saturday morning as the Tigers hired Chip Lindsey away from Arizona State to succeed Rhett Lashlee.

The news garnered plenty of social media reaction from Auburn players and coaches. Check out what they had to say below.

Auburn hires Lindsey as O.C.

Quarterback Sean White:

Excited to learn from @CoachLindseyASU

— Sean White (@SeanWhiteAU) January 21, 2017

Quarterback Woody Barrett:

Ready to work with @CoachLindseyASU and become legendary look forward towards the future. WDE . We Lit[?] [?]

— WB1_SVGSZN (@WoodyB_1) January 21, 2017
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Running back Kam Martin:

#WarEagle let’s get this thing rolling @CoachLindseyASU [?]

— Kam Martin 6 (@TeamKamMartin) January 21, 2017
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Running back Kamryn Pettway:

All the AU fans welcome @CoachLindseyASU to the Family! Can’t wait for the 2017 season [?] [?]

— Big Savage (@Uno_Kam) January 21, 2017
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Recevier Darius Slayton:

Excited to get the spring started with our new OC @CoachLindseyASU!! Welcome to Auburn War Eagle!!

— Darius Slayton (@Young_Slay2) January 21, 2017

Running back Kerryon Johnson:

LETS GET THIS DONE COACH!!! @CoachLindseyASU

— Kerryon Johnson (@AyeyoKEJO) January 21, 2017

H-back Chandler Cox:

Man I’m excited! Welcome to the family @CoachLindseyASU! Let’s go win some championships!!

— Chandler Duke Cox (@chandlercox10) January 21, 2017

Wide receivers coach Kodi Burns:

Extremely blessed and fired up to work with @ChipLindsey again! Great coach and an awesome person!!! #WDE

— Kodi Burns (@KodiBurns) January 21, 2017

Receiver/kicker Will Hastings:

Excited to have @CoachLindseyASU as an OC! Going to be an exciting year and can’t wait coach! #WarEagle

— Will Hastings (@WillHastings7) January 21, 2017

Quarterback Jarrett Stidham:

Can’t wait to get to work with @CoachLindseyASU! Time to go win championships! #WDE

— Jarrett Stidham (@Jarrett_Stidham) January 21, 2017

Offensive line coach Herb Hand:

[?] Fired[?] up to work with @CoachLindseyASU (just gotta get his profile updated now [?] [?] [?] )…#WarEagle#WelcomeHomeChip https://t.co/3euOnbEj4r

— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) January 21, 2017

Grad assistant Jonathan Wallace:

Welcome back!!! https://t.co/q05xtXk6bk

— Jonathan Wallace (@JWall_4) January 21, 2017

How Auburn players, coaches reacted to Chip Lindsey hire

Lindsey was hired Saturday morning

Who is Chip Lindsey? 10 things to know about Auburn’s new offensive coordinator

Things to know about the newest member of Auburn's coaching staff.

Chip Lindsey is Auburn’s new offensive coordinator.

A longtime Alabama high school coach, Lindsey, returns to Auburn, where he was an analyst in 2013, after spending a year at Arizona State.

Fired up to be back on the plains with the AU Family! Ready to go to work! War Eagle! pic.twitter.com/96dLbxkZBv

— Chip Lindsey (@CoachLindseyWDE) January 21, 2017

Here are others things to know about the newest member of Auburn’s coaching staff.

Arizona State ranked 11th nationally in red zone offense, 39th in passing and 40th in scoring under Lindsey in 2016.
Southern Miss broke five single-season school records with Lindsey as offensive coordinator in 2015, including completions (312), passing yards (4,263), total offensive yards (6,758), touchdowns (67) and points (528). USM quarterback Nick Mullens (4,476 yards with 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions) was the 2015 Conference USA Player of the Year and the Golden Eagles became the second FBS team eveer with a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and two 1,000-yard rushers.
Served as an offensive analyst at Auburn in 2013 when the Tigers won the SEC Championship and played in the BCS National Championship game.
Was head coach at Spain Park High School in 2011-12 and at Colbert Heights High School in 2005-06
Began college coaching career as quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2010, where he coached Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Corey Robinson, who threw for 3,707 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while leading the No. 37 passing offense in the country.

A look at Auburn OC Chip Lindsey’s recruiting background

Served as head coach as Lassiter High School in Georgia in 2008-09, where he coached the late Philip Lutzenkirchen to a 1,000-receiving yard season in ’08. Also coached Parade All-American quarterback Hutson Mason, who signed with Georgia after breaking every single-season state passing record including passing yards (4,560) and touchdowns (54) in 2009. Was named the Marietta Daily Journal Cobb County Coach of the Year, Cobb County Touchdown Club Coach of the Year and Atlanta Falcons Class AAAAA Coach of the Year in 2009 and Georgia’s Associated Press Coach of the Year in 2008.
Coached alongside legendary Alabama high school coaches John Mothershed at Deshler and Rush Propst at Hoover and also had stops at Springville and Sparkman.
From Madison, Alabama and graduated from Bob Jones High School, where he was a three-sport letterman.
Played football at the University of North Alabama before transferring as a student to Alabama, where he received his bachelor’s degree in history and English in 1997.
Married tothe former Cecily Pharr of Sheffield, Alabama. Couple has four children: Claire, Caroline, Cooper and Conner.

Who is Chip Lindsey? 10 things to know about Auburn’s new offensive coordinator

Things to know about the newest member of Auburn’s coaching staff.

“I look forward to Helping Auburn Win Championships,”Chip Lindsey, Auburn Offensive Coordinator

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Arizona State’s Offensive Coordinator, Chip Lindsey, a close friend of Gus Malzahn, has been hired in the same position at Auburn.

According to reports, Lindsey was Malzahn’s top choice all along but had to convince influential boosters within the program. Malzahn has a track record of hiring people he’s acquainted with as he did with Rhette Lashlee and Herb Hand. In the end he got his man. He is expected to take over the play calling duties assumed by Lashlee midway through the 2016 season.

Lindsey, considered by some as a quarterback guru coached quarterbacks at Troy in 2010 before serving on Gus Malzahn’s staff as an analylist in 2013. Prior to serving  at Arizona State for one year, the Alabama native was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Southern Miss where he mentored Nick Mullins the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year. Mullens threw for 4,145 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2015. His single year at Arizona State had the Sun Devils ranked 39th in passing  and 11th nationally in red zone offense.
 
In a news release Gus said, “”I have the utmost confidence in [Chip’s]  ability to lead our offense and his strength in developing quarterbacks makes him the perfect fit.”

For his part, Lindsey said Auburn is a special place and, “I look forward to being part of something special and helping Auburn win championships.”

The post “I look forward to Helping Auburn Win Championships,”Chip Lindsey, Auburn Offensive Coordinator appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator – ESPN

ESPN
Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator
ESPN
AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers have hired Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, head coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday. Lindsey, who spent last season in the same job at Arizona State, replaces Rhett Lashlee, who left to…
Auburn to hire Chip Lindsey as its new offensive coordinatorFOXSports.com
Chip Lindsey Named Auburn OC: Latest Contract Details, Comments and ReactionBleacher Report
REPORT: Auburn to hire Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinatorFanRag Sports (blog)
College and Magnolia-House of Sparky-The Spun (press release) (blog)
all 47 news articles

A look at Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s recruiting background

Chip Lindsey only has five years of coaching experience at the college level, but his background and relationships as a high school coach in Alabama and Georgia could be crucial while recruiting for Auburn.

A look at Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s recruiting background

Chip Lindsey only has five years of coaching experience at the college level, but his background and relationships as a high school coach in Alabama and Georgia could be crucial while recruiting for Auburn.

Much like his college coaching career, Chip Lindsey’s experience as a recruiter is in the fledgling stages.

Auburn’s new offensive coordinator, who was named to the position on Saturday morning, has only five years of experience on college football staffs — with one as an offensive analyst at Auburn in 2013, one as Troy’s quarterbacks coach in 2010 and the last three years as an offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi (2014-15) and Arizona State (2016). His 247Sports recruiter page is largely empty and hasn’t been updated since his one season at Troy.

Lindsey’s addition to Auburn’s staff is mostly due to his prowess as a quarterback developer and his familiarity with the spread offense. That’s not to say Lindsey hasn’t been an effective recruiter in his short time as a college coach, however.

In his one year at Arizona State, Lindsey helped the Sun Devils land a commitment from four-star quarterback Ryan Kelley — a one-time Oregon commit. Kelley decommitted from Oregon last May and promptly flipped to Arizona State less than a week later. Kelley, an Under Armour All-American who is ranked as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports composite, cited his budding relationship with Lindsey as one of the main reasons for his decision to choose the Sun Devils,according to the Arizona Republic.

Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator

Lindsey also helped Arizona State land former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett, who left the Tide in September and announced last month via Twitter that he was transferring to Arizona State.Barnett, a former five-star prospect in the 2015 class, included in his announcement a photo of himself with Lindsey as well as Arizona State head coach Todd Graham and then-assistant coach Jay Norvell, who has since accepted the head coaching job at Nevada.

While Lindsey, a native of Madison, lacks a breadth of experience on the recruiting trail, he will more than make up for in both familiarity with the state of Alabama and relationships within the high school coaching ranks around these parts as he returns to his home state.

“My family and I are very excited to return to Auburn and our home state,” Lindsey said in a release. “Both are very special places to us”

Prior to joining Gus Malzahn’s staff as an offensive analyst in 2013, Lindsey spent the previous two seasons as head coach at Spain Park High in Hoover. There, he accumulated a 15-9 record in two seasons.

That, of course, was only his most recent foray in high school coaching in the area. Prior to being named the quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2010, Lindsey was the head coach at Lassiter High in Georgia from 2008-09, where he coached former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. His stint at Lassiter was preceded by a year as the offensive coordinator at Hoover High under Rush Propst in 2007, and two seasons at Colbert Heights High in Tuscumbia from 2005-06 — his first head coaching opportunity.

Chip Lindsey’s rise from Alabama high school coach to college coordinator

Beyond that, Lindsey coached at various high schools throughout Alabama as an assistant from 1997-2004, with stops at Florence, Deshler, Springville and Sparkman.

“Chip has a tremendous amount of respect from the high school coaches in the state of Alabama,” said Opelika High coach Brian Blackmon, who was Lindsey’s college roommate at North Alabama. “I think I speak for a lot of them in saying that he’s one of us…. He’s a great coach and a great person. He’s a tremendously hard worker, very driven and one of the finest quarterback coaches and passing game guys I’ve ever been around. I think immediately the doors are open at high schools across our state when you have a guy that’s one of you.”

Lindsey’s lack of history as a recruiter is also softened by the fact that Auburn has four assistants on staff who rank in the top 100 of 247Sports’ recruiter rankings, with running backs coach Tim Horton 23rd, defensive line coach Rodney Garner 28th, tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Scott Fountain 41st and offensive line coach Herb Hand 89th.

“I’m looking forward to reuniting with Coach Malzahn and his staff,” Lindsey said. “They are great coaches and great people. I look forward to being part of something special and helping Auburn win championships.”

Auburn players, coaches react to hire of Chip Lindsey as new offensive coordinator

Auburn’s 10-day search for an offensive coordinator came to an end Saturday morning when coach Gus Malzahn announced that Chip Lindsey would be hired to replace Rhett Lashlee, who left for the same position at UConn on Jan. 11.

Chip Lindsey hired as Auburn’s offensive coordinator

After 10 days on the market, Auburn finally has its offensive coordinator.

Chip Lindsey hired as Auburn’s offensive coordinator

After 10 days on the market, Auburn finally has its offensive coordinator.

Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator

After more than nine days, Auburn has found its next offensive coordinator.

Auburn hires Chip Lindsey as offensive coordinator

After more than nine days, Auburn has found its next offensive coordinator.

After more than nine days, Auburn has found its next offensive coordinator.

Chip Lindsey, previous a head coach at multiple Alabama high schools and analyst at Auburn in 2013, will take over on the Plains after serving in the same role for the past season at Arizona State, a source confirmed to AL.com.

Lindsey becomes Auburn’s second offensive coordinator under coach Gus Malzahn as he enters his sixth year as a college head coach, with protege Rhett Lashlee having spent the past five years with Malzahn, first at Arkansas State and then with the Tigers for the past four years before leaving for thesame position with UConn on Jan. 11.

“My family and I are very excited to return to Auburn and our home state,” Lindsey said in a statement to the school’s website. “Both are very special places to us. I looking forward to reuniting with coach Malzahn and his staff. They are great coaches and great people. I look forward to being part of something special and helping Auburn win championships.”

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy first reported Auburn was hiring Lindsey, who was Malzahn’s top choice from the onset of a process thatincluded several candidates with no ties to Malzahn. Thebalance of power within the program became a focal point of the nine-plus day search.

During his season at Arizona State, Lindsey led a Sun Devils offense that ranked 39th nationally in passing (259.3 yards per game) and 40th in scoring (33.3) points and 11th inside the red zone (91.5 percent).

While offensive coordinator at Southern Miss the previous two years, the Golden Eagles were 12th in both passing and total offense and 13th in scoring in 2015 under Lindsey. USM quarterback Nick Mullens was named Conference USA Player of the Year as he threw for 4,476 yards with 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

“I’m excited to welcome Chip Lindsey to the Auburn family,” Malzahn said in a statement to the school’s website. “I have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead our offense and his strength in developing quarterbacks makes him the perfect fit. Chip is a man of integrity and character who will fit well within our staff. He has great knowledge and enthusiasm for the game and is a rising star in this profession.”

Like Lashlee was starting with the LSU game last season, Lindsey is expected to be Auburn’s offensive play-caller, a role Malzahn relinquished after deeming it too strenuous following a 1-2 start.

Lindsey is inheriting an offense with most of its key contributors returning, including running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson, and a talented but young receiving corps along with two-year returning starter Sean White and former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Auburn (8-5, 5-3 SEC) led the SEC and is sixth nationally in rushing (271.31 yards per game) just a year after the strength of the offense was fifth in the conference and 35th nationally (196.4 ypg.) in the worst year ever for a Malzahn offense.

Auburn was more productive offensively in 2016 than in 2015, climbing from 94th to 43rd in total offense (440.8 ypg.), and more efficient in the passing game, but the Tigers threw for their fewest yards since 2012.

AL.com will update this story.

Packers’ Joe Whitt Jr. serves as role model, advocate for dyslexic youngsters

Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. aspires to be a head coach. He’s also dyslexic. And what’s more, he wants people to know that.

Packers’ Joe Whitt Jr. serves as role model, advocate for dyslexic youngsters

Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. aspires to be a head coach. He's also dyslexic. And what's more, he wants people to know that.

Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. aspires to be a head coach. He’s also dyslexic. And what’s more, he wants people to know that.

“I’ve had people tell me, before I came out with it, ‘Joe, you’re not going to get a head-coaching job if people know this,'” Whitt told Kathy Crockett, the managing editor for the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity’s web site. “My stance was: ‘Well, if that’s the reason somebody doesn’t hire me as a head coach, well, shame on them,’ because I think the world needs to know that there are success stories with people who have dyslexia.”

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability generally exhibited through a difficulty in reading. Whitt pushed through it growing up in Auburn, where his father was an assistant football coach for the university’s Tigers for 25 years and an assistant athletic director and fundraiser for another nine.

Joe Whitt Jr. played two seasons for Auburnas a walk-on wide receiver until injuries ended his career and he turned toward coaching. He was at Louisville when coach Bobby Petrino was hired by the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. That’s when he entered the NFL, and Whitt has been the Packers’ cornerbacks coach since 2009.

He’d like to keep climbing the coaching ladder, but even more important to him is for youngsters with dyslexia to get the assistance that they need to reach their potential.

“The football part is the football part,” Whitt told Joe Wilde of espn.com. “I’m not embarrassed about being dyslexic. I’ll tell anybody. I’m at that point now. And I don’t want kids to be embarrassed about it because most dyslexic people are brilliant. But they just have to do it a different way. I want kids to know, just because I learn a different way does not mean I’m not smart. It’s just not learning the way everyone else learns.

“And if I never become a head coach because of it, I will be fine. I will be fine because I’m going to try to help as many kids as I can. And if somebody does give me a chance to be a head coach one day, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Whitt has shared his story at professional conferences on dyslexia, including at Yale University.

“What’s important to me is these kids,” Whitt said. “They need to understand that just because you learn a different way, that doesn’t mean you’re not still smart. They’re being told they’re dumb. They’re terrified to read in class. Their confidence is low. And if they don’t break through, they’re going to go the other way. And it’s potential, it’s talent that’s lost forever. We’re losing too many talented kids because of a misbelief that they’re not capable of what they truly can be.”

READ JOE WILDE’S “FOR PACKERS’ JOE WHITT, OVERCOMING DYSLEXIA LEADS TO GROWTH AS A COACH”

Whitt knows it’s not easy to cope as a dyslexic student, but he also knows it can be done.

“My parents aren’t big on excuses,” Whitt said. “They believe in hard work. No matter what learning disabilities or anything you have, if you work hard, they feel that you can get the results. And I agree with that. I had to do some things differently. I had to really use my ability to memorize and go that route, other than just sitting there and reading things.”

READ KATHY CROCKETT’S “TACKLING DYSLEXIA AS A TEAM WITH NFL COACH JOE WHITT JR.”

Whitt has had to work extra hard in his job this season. The Packers lost their top cornerback, Sam Shields, to a season-ending injury in the first game of the year. LaDarius Gunter, a former Jeff Davis High School star who hardly played as an undrafted rookie in 2015, has had to become Green Bay’s top cornerback as Whitt has worked around injuries to two other second-year players – Damarious Randall, a former baseball prospect who was a collegiate safety, and Quinten Rollins, an ex-basketball player with one season of collegiate football experience – by using safety Micah Hyde at cornerback.

Despite that, the Packers will play the Atlanta Falcons at 2:05 p.m. CST Sunday for a spot in Super Bowl LI.

“I think Joe, just his ability to teach and demand is excellent. It’s excellent,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “You see it each year. The ability to not only develop the guys who are playing, but guys who may have moved on and gone onto bigger and better things. He’s an outstanding football coach. He truly gets into the art and technique and fundamentals of a position. That’s what you want from everybody. That’s what every coach wants to be.”

One thing that Whitt can appreciate from experience is that different people learn differently. To hone his skill as a teacher, Whitt has taken time in the offseason to observe how high school teachers back home in Auburn reach their students.

“I shadow a lot of high school teachers,” Whitt said. “I like to shadow an AP teacher and a teacher who has special-needs kids, because the students have different learning styles. That way, when I’m in the meeting room or the classroom, I’m able to reach everybody in there, from the guys who have a very strong background in football and defensive package to guys who’ve never really played the position before and are learning everything from the beginning. I took the idea from (Pittsburgh Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin a couple of years ago. It’s probably one of the best things that I’ve done because it gives me a number of different teaching styles to get to my players.”

The NFC championship game between the Packers and the Falcons will be televised from the Georgia Dome by FOX.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OURNFL PAGE

Auburn, Bruce Pearl continue fight to raise awareness for cancer with ‘AUTLIVE’ game

It was August, 2015. The beginning of the fall semester. Blake Fabiani, a sophomore engineering major at Auburn, had begun to feel sick.

AU ROUNDUP: No. 11 Auburn gymnastics falls at No. 9 Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 11 Auburn gymnastics traveled to No. 9 Kentucky for a Friday night meet and fell to the Wildcats, 197.100-195.800, in Memorial Coliseum.

After Auburn coaching change, new offers, Joey Gatewood reviews commitment

Gatewood (6-4, 223) is ranked as the nation's No. 3 dual-threat quarterback for 2018 in the 247Sports Composite.

When Joey Gatewood committed to Auburn in December 2015, Rhett Lashlee was a major reason why.

Lashlee had recruited Gatewood for years and had developed a very close relationship with the young quarterback.

So, it goes without saying that Gatewood was surprised to hear about Lashlee’s decision to leave his post as Auburn’s offensive coordinatorlast week to take the same position at Connecticut.

While on the recruiting trail Wednesday, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Herb Hand traveled to Bartram Trail in Jacksonville, Fla., to meet with the prized recruit. The following day, Gatewood announced a flurry of new offers from Georgia, Texas and Oregon.

Despite the attention he’s receiving from other schools, Gatewood reaffirmed his pledge to the Tigers in a recent interview with 247Sports.

“I’m just chilling back and waiting to see who they hire,” the four-star prospect said. “As of right now I’m still solid with Auburn… It is a place I want to call home and a place I can see myself playing.”

Tracking Auburn coaches on recruiting trail

Gatewood added that Malzahn reassured him the new offensive coordinator will be in contact with him as quickly as possible. Friday night marks the 10th day of Auburn’s search for Lashlee’s replacement.

“It’s obviously going to be important to me,” Gatewood said. “I doubt I’ll have one like Rhett, but it could get there. I was real close with him since ninth grade since he started recruiting me. We got close. It’s an important thing, because I’m going on to college and I’m going to trust them. I trust Gus and what they have planned and all that.”

Auburn O.C. search hinging on internal balance of power

Gatewood (6-4, 223) is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback for 2018 in the 247Sports Composite. According to MaxPreps, he went 59-for-87 for 716 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions through the air last fall while rushing 93 times for 753 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 315 yards and six scores.

Gatewood has not responded to AL.com’s interview requests. Listen to his full interview with 247Sports at WarEagleSportsRadio.com.

After Auburn coaching change, new offers, Joey Gatewood reviews commitment

Gatewood (6-4, 223) is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback for 2018 in the 247Sports Composite.

Auburn offensive coordinator search hinging on internal balance of power, source says

Auburn’s offensive coordinator search, nearing the end of its ninth day, is hinging on a high stakes showdown over power and control between coach Gus Malzahn and those with influence over the program, a source told AL.com.

Auburn offensive coordinator search hinging on internal balance of power, source says

Auburn's offensive coordinator search, nearing the end of its ninth day, is hinging on a high stakes showdown over power and control between coach Gus Malzahn and those with influence over the program, a source told AL.com.

Auburn’s offensive coordinator search, nearing the end of its ninth day, is hinging on a high stakes showdown over power and control between coach Gus Malzahn and those with influence over the program, a source told AL.com.

Malzahn, who enters a pivotal fifth season leading the program, had a short list of candidates to succeed Rhett Lashlee, wholeft for the same position at UConn on Jan. 11.

That short list included former Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and North Carolina State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, both of who have worked under Malzahn. AuburnSports.com also reported Lindsey and Drinkwitz were among Malzahn’s preferred candidates.

A source indicated those candidates did not receive a favorable reaction from people with influence over the program, who felt Briles, now at Florida Atlantic, lacks experience and Lindsey and Drinkwitz, while familiar with Malzahn’s offense were also too close to him.

A list of preferred candidates was provided to Malzahn by athletic director Jay Jacobs, the source said, which was composed of comparatively more experienced coaches, including the Texas A&M’sNoel Mazzone, who reportedly went from the possible lead candidate to staying in College Station in a matter of hours on Thursday.

Attempts to reach Jacobs, who was at the NCAA convention in Nashville this week, have been unsuccessful.

With Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich pulling his name from consideration, Mazzone staying put, former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich preferring to wait for a head coaching opportunity, Jake Spavital landing at West Virginia and several other prominent offensive coordinators rumored to have been at least considered, if not offered the job, where Auburn goes next is unclear.

8 potential candidates for Auburn offensive coordinator

Malzahn is understandably comfortable with Lindsey,a former head coach at multiple Alabama high schools and analyst at Auburn in 2013, and Drinkwitz, his running backs coach at Arkansas State in 2012 and offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2015 and NC State last season.

Though with Auburn experiencing offensive struggles in 2015 and a 1-3 finish to 2016, the program’s powerbrokers wanting the new hire to offer a different perspective is not irrational either.

With less than 12 days to national signing day, the critical hire could down to a test of wills.

Next fall Auburn’s linebackers hope to ‘lead this team like we’re supposed to’

Tre' Williams, Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams enjoyed breakout seasons last fall

Auburn’s linebackers entered the 2016 season as the most inexperienced unit on the defensive side of the ball.

In 2017, they hope to step up as leaders.

Tre’ Williams, Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams proved doubters wrong with breakout seasons last fall under first-year linebackers coach Travis Williams and first-year coordinator Kevin Steele. They helped fill the void left by departed seniors Kris Frost, Cassanova McKinzy and Justin Garrett and now aim to build on their progress next fall.

The success of the linebackers came as no surprise to junior Tre’ Williams.

“I knew it was going to happen,” said junior linebacker Tre’ Williams after Auburn’s loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 2. “Coach T-Will got us right. He put us in a great position to be successful and we had a pretty good year. But from now on we know we have to be much better, and that’s what the whole offseason’s for. We have to come into this next year and lead this team like we’re supposed to.”

Tre’ Williams’ 67 tackles were the most by any linebacker and ranked second on the team behind safety Tray Matthews. He added four hurries, three sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Davis was right behind with 63 tackles, including seven for loss and five hurries. Darrell Williams posted 52 tackles, five hurries and three tackles for loss.

The best and worst of Auburn football 2016

The trio seemingly took their preseason coaching to heart. In August, the last time Travis Williams was made available to the media, he shed some light on the mentality he was trying to instill in his players as they entered the yearunproven.

“I told my guys last night in our room, ‘Everybody outside these walls don’t think you’re good. And that’s OK. That’s why you go to work every day and chop wood and get ready to prove everyone wrong,'” he said. “That’s the thing about just having a chip on your shoulder, and never losing that chip.”

Auburn will lose four defensive starters next year, but none at the linebacker position. Without defensive linemen Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson or defensive backs Rudy Ford and Josh Holsey, the linebackers will carry high expectations for the new season.

Davis, regularly outspoken on social media, set the bar high for himself this week. He tweeted “#ButkusYear” Wednesday as he aims to win the Butkus Award, which has been given to the nation’s top linebacker since 1985.

#ButkusYear [?]

— [?] [?]Deshaun Davis[?] (@_Davis_Boy12) January 18, 2017

The only scholarship linebacker Auburn loses this offseason is grad transfer T.J. Neal, who primarily served as a backup in 2016. The next wave of Tre’ Threat, Montavious Atkinson and Richard McBryde will have to be more involved for the unit to be successful. Atkinson showed promise in 2016 with 30 stops, including 4.5 for loss, but Threat and McBryde played limited snaps and combined for just five tackles.

Auburn has three linebackers committed to its 2017 recruiting class — four-star T.D. Moultry of Birmingham, four-star K.J. Britt of Oxford and three-star Chandler Wooten of Kennesaw, Ga. Britt and Wooten are already enrolled at Auburn and will have a chance to stand out in spring practices. Moultry is expected to begin classes after the spring semester.

“Within practice (Steele) wants to develop the young guys,” Tre’ Williams said. “They’ve been doing a really great job of developing themselves and I see a bright future, I really do. I can’t necessarily to you who or what is going to help us in the future but I know it’s going to be great.”

The Tigers open the 2017 season against Georgia Southern at home Sept. 2.

Auburn to face a very different Clemson in 8 months

Next fall Auburn’s linebackers hope to ‘lead this team like we’re supposed to’

Tre’ Williams, Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams enjoyed breakout seasons last fall

Auburn’s Tony Stevens, Alex Kozan set to play in East-West Shrine Game on Saturday

The 92nd East-West Shrine Game is set to kick off Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and two former Auburn players will be among the players showcasing their skills for NFL talent evaluators:

Auburn’s Tony Stevens, Alex Kozan set to play in East-West Shrine Game on Saturday

The 92nd East-West Shrine Game is set to kick off Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla., and two former Auburn players will be among the players showcasing their skills for NFL talent evaluators:

‘Go get it’ – Nosa Eguae transitions from football to corporate success – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
'Go get it' – Nosa Eguae transitions from football to corporate success
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
I wanted to go out and attack the day, whether I was in the classroom, or doing community work or I was on the football field. I wanted to do it to the best of my ability, understanding that I was going to leave a legacy behind and I was going to set …

Auburn’s lineups, offense ‘still evolving’ as it enters home game vs. rival Alabama

With Danjel Purifoy watching the last three games from either the sideline or the couch, Auburn has had to get creative with its lineups.

Auburn’s big recruiting weekend includes key official visitors

Check out who will be on the Plains this weekend

Auburn’s big recruiting weekend has arrived.

The Tigers have about five or six spots left to fill in their 2017 recruiting class and are hosting at least 12 prospects this weekend — eight commitments and fourtargets — as National Signing Day approaches Feb. 1.

Check out who will be on the Plains and where other Auburn targets will be this weekend below.

AUBURN COMMITS

Calvin Ashley, OL, Washington D.C. — Ashley, considered the gem of Auburn’s recruiting class, recently solidified his commitment to the Tigers despite a strong push from Maryland.

I’ll be back on the plains for my official visit this weekend!! #AmbUsh17 #WDE

— Calvin Ashley (@whiteboii_Cali) January 17, 2017

Carlito Gonzalez, S, Stone Mountain, Ga. — Gonzalez has remained solid with his commitment to the Tigers, which he made in August 2015. Auburn has had three defensive back coaches since Gonzalez joined the class (Travaris Robinson, Wesley McGriff and Greg Brown).

Official Visit To Auburn Tomorrow Looking Forward To Educating Myself , Getting A Feel For My New Home And To Get Some More Names On Board

— Carlito Gonzalez [?] [?] (@osama_binlito) January 19, 2017

Noah Igbinoghene, WR, Trussville, Ala. — The speedster committed to Auburn on Thanksgiving. He is currently the only receiver committed to Auburn’s 2017 class.

Auburn Official This Weekend!![?] [?] #WDE

— Noah Igbinoghene (@Noah_Igbo9) January 20, 2017

Traivon Leonard, CB, West Palm Beach, Fla. — Leonard flipped his commitment from North Carolina to Auburn Dec. 12, just days before defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff left the Plains for Ole Miss.

Official today!! #WDE

— Tray Leonard (@Tray_leonard) January 20, 2017

T.D Moultry, LB, Birmingham — Moultry, who recently gained five-star status by 247Sports, will be on campus as well and may learn more about where the Tigers see him fitting in, whether it be at linebacker or Buck end.

Jordyn Peters, S, Muscle Shoals — Peters committed to Auburn in August over Ole Miss and Virginia Tech. Peters hosted Brown and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele at his home last week. He is expected to officially visit the Rebels or Hokies next weekend.

Official at Auburn this weekend[?] [?]

— Jordyn Peters (@KingPete_x) January 17, 2017

Austin Troxell, OL, Madison — The former teammate of current Auburn running backs Kerryon Johnson and Malik Miller recently told AL.com his commitment was not affected by the departure of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

Alaric Williams, ATH, Gadsden — Nebraska made a push for Williams, but it appears he is locked in with his Auburn commitment.

AUBURN TARGETS

Ryan Johnson, DE, Mobile, Ala. — Auburn was the first to offer Johnson, and he remains one of the top priorities on the Plains. The entire defensive staff visited Johnson’s home Monday and the Tigers are expected to roll out the red carpet for him this weekend.

Chase Lasater, FB, Jacksonville, Fla. — If anyone should be on commitment watch, its Lasater. The H-back target told AL.com last month his commitment could come at any time, and he didn’t rule out a decision this weekend. However, Auburn is also recruiting Spanish Fort linebacker Thomas Johnston at the position.

Flying out to Auburn for my Official[?] [?] [?][?][?] #AU #WDE pic.twitter.com/P3BgLPOgEv

— Chase Lasater (@ChaseLasater) January 20, 2017
//

// ]]>

Oliver Martin, WR, Iowa City, Iowa — Sources told AL.com Thursday that Martin might take an official to Auburn this weekend, but it has not been confirmed. Martin was offered by Auburn in December and he is also considering Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

Tyler Taylor, LB, Buford, Ga. — Taylor is down to Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma. It is believed to be a tight race between the Tigers and Sooners, so this weekend’s visit could go a long way in his decision.

Ready to be on the plains tomorrow!! #WDE

— Tyler Taylor 8 (@tylertaylor8) January 20, 2017

WHERE OTHER TARGETS ARE GOING

Markaviest Bryant, DE, Cordele, Ga. — Bryant is officially visiting LSU this weekend. His other contenders are Alabama, Auburn and Georgia.

Kai-Loen Herbert, OL, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. — Herbert was at Auburn last weekend for his official visit and is headed to Miamithis weekend and Florida next weekend. The Gators are the perceived favorite to flip his commitment from Michigan.

Thomas Johnston, FB/LB, Spanish Fort — Johnston, who is down to Arkansas, Auburn, Iowa and Ole Miss, will be in Oxford this weekend. The Razorbacks, Hawkeyes and Rebels all want him as a linebacker while the Tigers hosted him last weekend and asked him to commit as an H-back.

George Moore, OL, San Mateo, Calif. — Auburn recently offered this JUCO lineman, who will officially visit the Plains Jan. 27, per 247Sports. Moore will take his OV Oregon this weekend.

Auburn’s big recruiting weekend includes key official visitors

Check out who will be on the Plains this weekend

Auburn forward Danjel Purifoy practices, could play Saturday vs. Alabama

Danjel Purifoy’s stint on the sidelines may be over.

AU BLOG MAILBAG: Why has Auburn not hired an offensive coordinator yet?

In last Friday’s AU Blog Mailbag, we talked about who Auburn’s next offensive coordinator might be. A week later, that question has been joined by a new one:

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Rudy Ford in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Johnathan “Rudy” Ford was among Mel Kiper Jr.’s top 10 safeties “at various stages” of the 2016 season and the Auburn defensive back begins the draft process on the fringe of that group.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Rudy Ford in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Johnathan “Rudy” Ford was among Mel Kiper Jr.'s top 10 safeties “at various stages” of the 2016 season and the Auburn defensive back begins the draft process on the fringe of that group.

Johnathan “Rudy” Ford was among Mel Kiper Jr.’s top 10 safeties “at various stages” of the 2016 season and the Auburn defensive back begins the draft process on the fringe of that group.

ESPN’s leading NFL draft analyst projects Ford, who has 59 tackles including 5.5 sacks, to be a fourth or fifth-round pick in April.

“I thought eventually he was guaranteed to be in my top 10 safeties but it ended up being a really strong group,” Kiper said. “I got (Obi Melifonwu) from Connecticut in and (Texas A&M’s) Justin Evans in and of course (Alabama’s) Eddie Jackson’s coming off the injury; they were 8-10. In fact, (Ford’s) grade is very similar to 8, 9 and 10. So right now I’ve got a fourth or fifth round grade on him.”

Ford, who started 12 games at the nickel corner position beforemissing the Sugar Bowl due to an ankle injury he suffered in the Iron Bowl, also had seven pass breakups and a fumble recovery last season.

After leading Auburn in tackles as a sophomore (93) and junior (118), Ford’s production dropped but it was due in large part to his position change.

NFLDraftScout.comranks Ford No. 11 among free safeties, down from No. 1 heading into the season, and expects him to be either a late pick or undrafted free agent.

Kiper said once Ford’s measurements and tests are done at the NFL Combine it will be easier to compare him to other players who might be considered for nickel corner positions as pros.

“Once they test you I think you get a better handle on all that; when you compare and contrast all the numbers,” Kiper said. “For right now, I think the fact that what he graded out as, what he tests as, how he compares to the other players at that position and have that kind of versatility I would say Day 3. Fourth or fifth round would be a possibility for him.”

Ford accepted an invite to this year’s Senior Bowl, which begins practice in Mobile on Tuesday.

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