SEC Football by the Numbers: Meet the conference’s 12 Heisman Trophy winners

The Heisman Memorial Trophy for the 2016 college football season will be presented on Saturday night. It won't be going to a player from the SEC. But the conference does have 12 previous Heisman winners.

SEC Football by the Numbers: Meet the conference’s 12 Heisman Trophy winners

The Heisman Memorial Trophy for the 2016 college football season will be presented on Saturday night. It won’t be going to a player from the SEC. But the conference does have 12 previous Heisman winners.

Auburn commit a finalist for U.S. Army All-American Bowl award

Nick Brahms committed to the Tigers in July

Auburn commit Nick Brahms of Navarre, Fla., was named a finalist for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl’s Felix “Doc” Blanchard Award Friday.

The award is presented to the player from the East Team that best “exhibits the same prowess as Blanchard in the classroom as well as on the field.” Blanchard led the U.S. Military Academy to three undefeated seasons and won the Heisman Trophy in 1945.

Brahms, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound offensive guard, is up against Clemson quarterback commit Hunter Johnson, Notre Dame offensive tackle commit Josh Lugg and uncommitted linebacker Nate McBride for the award.

Brahms is a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 8 offensive guard in the 247Sports Composite. He committed to Auburn over North Carolina, Tennessee and Miami in July at Nike’s “The Opening” camp in Oregon.

In August, Brahms had surgery in his leg to repair a broke fibula.He is taking his official visit to Auburn this weekend.

The 7 recruits Auburn’s hosting for officials

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is set for Jan. 7, 2017 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Individual awards will be announced Jan. 6.

Auburn commit a finalist for U.S. Army All-American Bowl award

Nick Brahms committed to the Tigers in July

Auburn’s got its ‘hat in the ring’ for Tarik Black as decision nears

The four-star U.S. Army All-American is the No. 17 receiver in the 247Sports Composite.

Auburn’s got its ‘hat in the ring’ for Tarik Black as decision nears

The four-star U.S. Army All-American is the No. 17 receiver in the 247Sports Composite.

Tarik Black is expected to announce his commitment next Wednesday, and his head coach believes Auburn has a chance to land the coveted wide receiver who is considered to be a Michigan lean.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and wide receivers coach Kodi Burns took an in-home visit to see Black on Tuesday. Two days later, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch did the same.

“Auburn, with Coach Burns and Coach Malzahn have done an incredible job of really getting their hat in the ring,” said David Dykeman, Black’s head coach at Chesire Academy in Connecticut. “They’ve done a great job and I certainly think Auburn is in the picture. Michigan has certainly done an incredible job as well.”

While traveling to Tuskegee for his brother’s graduation last spring, Black made his way over to Auburn for a visit and the Tigers offered him on the spot. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, he has the size to replace Tony Stevens, who leads the team with 466 receiving yards and three touchdowns in his final season on the Plains.

Black returned to Auburn for his official visit Sept. 10 for the Arkansas State game. Henow holds more than 40 offers and is a U.S. Army All-American. The four-star prospect is ranked as the No. 1 overall player in Connecticut and the No. 17 receiver in the nation by the 247Sports Composite.

“Tarik does it all,” Dykeman said. “He played safety for us, caught touchdowns, had a touchdown out of the Wildcat, ran the ball in some different ways, special teams. He’s an unbelievable football player.”

Auburn signed four wide receivers in the 2016 recruiting class, so the Tigers will likely go light at the position in the upcoming recruiting cycle. The only receiver currently committed to the class is Noah Igbinoghene of Hewitt-Trussville.

Igbinoghene on his future at Auburn

The race for Black is expected to end Wednesday when he announces his commitment via Bleacher Report.

“I’d love to be around (Auburn) the next few years as people and as coaches,” Black told 247Sportsthis week after the in-home visit from the Tigers. “I can learn a lot about being a man from those guys.”

Another GREAT In-Home visit w/ my guys!! [?] [?] #WarDamn !! #WDE [?] pic.twitter.com/4W3ZwBYWwO

— Tarik Black (@LetmeRockk_) December 6, 2016

Great In-Home Visit w/ @CoachJim4UM and @CoachJeddFisch !![?] #GOBLUE [?][?][?][?] pic.twitter.com/0nyhO8CbOh

— Tarik Black (@LetmeRockk_) December 8, 2016

Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson says ‘it’s no secret’ he will get shot at NFL

Jeremy Johnson was relegated to a reserve role for his senior season but remains confident his playing days are not over.

Watch video

Jeremy Johnson’s last start at Auburn is likely behind him.

With Sean White expected to be “close to 100 percent” for the Sugar Bowlagainst Oklahoma on Jan. 2, the third-year sophomore should be in line to regain his role as Auburn’s starting quarterback for the bowl game. For Johnson, who started the final two games of the regular season in place of an injured White, that means his rocky career as an Auburn quarterback has all but officially ended.

“(It’s) just a learning experience,” Johnson said of his career late last month. “It’s life. I don’t really feel no type of way, really, to be honest. It just is what it is.”

In four years at Auburn, Johnson has appeared in 29 games for the Tigers, including 11 starts at quarterback while accumulating a 7-4 record. The 6-foot-5, 234-pounder has completed 174-of-273 passes for 2,131 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

After being Alabama’s Mr. Football during his senior season at Carver-Montgomery, Johnson competed for the starting job as a freshman in 2013 before he was beat out in fall camp by JUVO transfer Nick Marshall. Johnson spent his first two years being groomed behind Marshall, and prior to his junior season he was a trendy preseason Heisman pick and was being touted as the next big thing at Auburn.

That quickly fizzled after a rocky three-game start to the 2015 season that resulted in him being benched in favor of White following Auburn’s road loss to LSU. Although Johnson started the final four regular-season games last season, he never truly regained the starting job and was relegated to a reserve role as a senior this year.

He started Auburn’s final two games against Alabama A&M and Alabama, completing 18-of-32 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, while White was sidelined due to a right shoulder injury. On Sunday, coach Gus Malzahn said he expected White to be healthy for the Sugar Bowl.

So, with his last significant college snaps likely behind him, what’s next for Johnson? The senior is confident he will get an opportunity to continue his career professionally.

“Start training, get ready for Pro Day and hopefully get the invite to the (NFL) Combine,” Johnson said. “Like I said, I’m going to get my chance. It’s no secret that I’m going to get a chance at the next level.”

Johnson undoubtedly has impressive size for the position, but whether he will be given a shot at the NFL remains to be seen. He is currently not ranked among the 45 quarterback prospects listed on CBS Sports’ NFL Draft Scout prospect rankings for the 2017 draft.

Johnson still has an opportunity to make some noise at Auburn’s Pro Day in the spring, as well as potential chances to conduct individual workouts for NFL teams — even if he doesn’t receive a coveted invite to the NFL Combine.

Although his Auburn career did not shake out as planned, Johnson is steadfast in his belief that he will have a chance to extend his playing career no matter what, even if it means going undrafted and signing somewhere as a free agent.

“Definitely,” he said.

Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson says ‘it’s no secret’ he will get shot at NFL

Jeremy Johnson was relegated to a reserve role for his senior season but remains confident his playing days are not over.

Auburn will face former assistant coach Jay Boulware in Sugar Bowl

When Gus Malzahn looks across the field at the Superdome during the Sugar Bowl he’ll see a former colleague.

Auburn will face former assistant coach Jay Boulware in Sugar Bowl

When Gus Malzahn looks across the field at the Superdome during the Sugar Bowl he'll see a former colleague.

When Gus Malzahn looks across the field at the Superdome during the Sugar Bowl he’ll see a former colleague.

Former Auburn tight ends and special teams coach Jay Boulware, who spent four years on the Plains from 2009-12, has been with Oklahoma for the past four seasons.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops plans to call on Boulware, who coaches running backs and special teams for the Sooners, to prepare for the Tigers.

“I’m sure we’ll get into that when we get back from recruiting and get a chance to start working on the game plan,” Stoops said.

Only a few fifth-year seniors were on Auburn’s roster when Boulware last coached with the Tigers, though cornerback Josh Holsey was an early special teams contributor as a true freshman.

Auburn’s specials teams were quite successful under Boulware’s leadership.

Among the players under Boulware were All-American punter Steven Clark, a finalist for the Ray Guy award in 2011, kickers Wes Bynum and Cody Parkey, kickoff returners Demond Washington, who set the program’s single-season record for kickoff return average, and Tre Mason and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen.

The late Lutzenkirchen once referred to Boulware as a players’ coach for his upbeat personality attitude and manner or teaching.

“I don’t believe in just coming here and teaching guys about football,” Boulware said during a 2010 interview on the Auburn Football: Every Day program. “Not that I’m not teaching any football, but I just really believe when parents bring their young men to us it’s our jobs as coaches to continue their maturation process into adulthood and help raise young men.”

Oklahoma’s special teams are performing somewhat similarly to Auburn statistically this year with the exception being defending kickoffs and punts.

How Auburn compares to Oklahoma heading into Sugar Bowl

You’d have to look no further than Oklahoma’s season-opening loss to Houston, which featured a kick six, to see the Sooners’ issues.

Boulware took the blame for Brandon Wilson’s 109-yard touchdown return and said Oklahoma began practicing such situations after Chris Davis Jr. did it in the 2013 Iron Bowl.

“We started working on it immediately because again, that’s something that doesn’t really cross your mind as a specialty situation until it does happen,” Boulware said, according to the Tulsa World. “So we started working it from both ends — from our return end and from our coverage end and our kids know what to do in that scenario. They knew to cover. They knew that he was back there.

“But again, you’ve got seven offensive linemen and two guys that aren’t offensive linemen are two tight ends and then a holder and a kicker. You do the math.”

In a game where the two teams have met just once before, in 1972, there is almost no other linkage between Auburn and Oklahoma.

While Stoops has been in Norman for 18 years, the longest tenured coach in the FBS, he’s faced Malzahn just once before.

“Just know coach Malzahn a little bit,” Stoops said. “We haven’t been around each other a whole lot. I’ve got great respect for what he’s done, the coach that he is, the way his teams play. We haven’t been around each other a whole bunch.”

Boulware could help bridge the knowledge gap.

The Awarded Auburn Football Players of 2016

The regular season is over, so it’s time for every publication under the sun to give us their thoughts on the best of the year. It’s also a good chance to see how wrong their preseason selections were.

When you have a pretty good year like Auburn did, you have some guys on these lists. It’s amazing how that happens. I’m sure more will roll in over the next few weeks, but for now I’ve compiled all that I’ve been able to find. 10 publications so far.

Daniel Carlson (K, Jr.)
All-SEC 1st Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC Team, ESPN
All-SEC 1st Team, AP
All-SEC 1st Team, Gridiron Now
All-SEC 1st Team, Pro Football Focus
All-America 2nd Team, USA Today
All-America 2nd Team, Sports Illustrated
All-America 1st Team, SB Nation
SEC Special Teams Play of the Year, SEC Coaches
Lou Groza Award Finalist

Braden Smith (OL, Jr.)
All-SEC 2nd Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC Team, ESPN
All-SEC 1st Team, AP
All-SEC 1st Team, Gridiron Now
All-SEC 1st Team, Pro Football Focus
All-America 3rd Team, SB Nation

Carl Lawson (DE, Jr.)
All-SEC 1st Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC 2nd Team, AP
All-SEC 2nd Team, Gridiron Now
All-SEC 2nd Team, Pro Football Focus

Montravius Adams (DT, Sr.)
All-SEC 2nd Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC 1st Team, AP
All-SEC 1st Team, Gridiron Now

Kamryn Pettway (RB, Jr.)
All-SEC 1st Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC 1st Team, AP
All-SEC 1st Team, Gridiron Now

Robert Leff (OL, Sr.)
All-SEC 2nd Team, AP
All-SEC 2nd Team, Gridiron Now
All-SEC 1st Team, Pro Football Focus

Alex Kozan (OL, Sr.)
All-SEC 2nd Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC 1st Team, AP

Marlon Davidson (DE, Fr.)
All-SEC Freshman Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC Freshman 1st Team, Athlon Sports

Javaris Davis (DB, Fr.)
All-SEC Freshman Team, SEC Coaches
All-SEC Freshman 1st Team, Athlon Sports

Daniel Thomas (DB, Fr.)
All-SEC Freshman 2nd Team, Athlon Sports


Auburn recruiting podcast: Tiger commits showing off at Alabama-Mississippi practice

Drew Champlin and Mark Jennings are back with another edition of Champ's Corner, the Auburn recruiting podcast.

Drew Champlin and Mark Jennings are back with another edition of Champ’s Corner, the Auburn recruiting podcast.

Here, we look at the five Auburn commits and other targets in the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game.

We also preview the weekend’s official visitorsand take listener questions.

Hear more editions of Champ’s Corner onWarEagleSportsRadio.com

Auburn recruiting podcast: Tiger commits showing off at Alabama-Mississippi practice

Drew Champlin and Mark Jennings are back with another edition of Champ’s Corner, the Auburn recruiting podcast.

Will Muschamp has history with Birmingham Bowl, but this is first time he’ll coach in game

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp's teams have played in the Birmingham Bowl before, but this is the first time he'll be on the sidelines.

South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp has a unique relationship with the Birmingham Bowl.

He brings his Gamecocks to this season’s version of the bowl at Legion Field on Dec. 29 against South Florida, and while it’s the first time he’s coaching in the game it’s not the first team one of his teams is playing in it.

Muschamp had just moved on from his position as defensive coordinator for Auburn last year when the Tigers beat Memphis, 31-10. He accepted the job at South Carolina, and didn’t stay at Auburn for the Birmingham Bowl.

Back in 2014, he was fired from his head coaching position at Florida before the Gators came to Birmingham to play East Carolina (winning 28-20).

This year, Muschamp is happy to actually be on the sidelines for the bowl game.

Especially considering that many people wondered if he and his team would be in any bowl this year.

His Gamecocks were not expected to do much this year after former coach Steve Spurrier left and Muschamp came in from Auburn. They didn’t go to a bowl game last year, and most experts expected the rebuilding process to take a while.

Muschamp’s team started off slow, getting off to a 2-4 start in 2016. But the Gamecocks rebounded to finish 6-6.

Time to go BOWLING #Gamecocks!!! Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29! pic.twitter.com/EuiBWC9qnN

— Gamecock Athletics (@GamecocksOnline) December 4, 2016

Muschamp said in a Birmingham Bowl introductory press conference Thursday that his players–and the Gamecocks–are excited to be in the post-season.

“We’ve got the best fans and supporters,” Muschamp said. “They’re excited to be back. I enjoy being back in the state of Alabama, being in the Birmingham Bowl and playing at Legion Field.”

He said he expects that fan base to show up in good numbers for the bowl.

He also added that playing USF will be quite the challenge. The Bulls (10-2) are enjoying their fist 10-win season in school history and are powered by an exciting “Gulf Coast” offense behind quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack.

South Carolina’s defense is its strength, and Muschamp looks forward to seeing how his team will compete against that potent Bulls offense.

“The question is whether our defense can stop their playmakers,” he said.

The Bulls are in a similar situation as several of Muschamps’ prior teams were in at previous Birmingham Bowls, with former USF coach Willie Taggart already moved to his new gig as the Oregon Ducks’ new coach. Offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will coach USF in an interim capacity.

“I don’t think it will affect the players much,” Muschamp said. “As long as you don’t let it become a situation, it isn’t one.”

The Birmingham Bowl is scheduled for Thurs., Dec. 29, at Legion Field at 1:00 p.m. Central Time. The game will be televised on ESPN, and tickets are available at the bowl website.

Will Muschamp has history with Birmingham Bowl, but this is first time he’ll coach in game

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp’s teams have played in the Birmingham Bowl before, but this is the first time he’ll be on the sidelines.

The 7 recruits Auburn’s hosting for official visits

Check out which commits and targets will be on the Plains this weekend

The 7 recruits Auburn’s hosting for official visits

Check out which commits and targets will be on the Plains this weekend

Cafe Malzahn – Just Dessert or Just Deserts?

funny-tiger-wallpaper

So the end of the season is upon us. As proprietor of Cafe Malzahn, I’ll leave it up to you, the readers, to decide which spelling applies – Just Desserts/Just Deserts.

At issue is the refinement of the Auburn fan palate. Some of the Auburn faithful savor the sweetness of a January 2nd Bowl as a fitting end to the season. Others have been soured by the results of the last two conference games in which the Auburn offense failed to make any headway for significant portions of the game. Still others taste bitterness in that the highest ranked SEC team outside of the playoffs has four losses and is representing the Conference as damaged goods. There even seems to be an undercurrent of distrust and dismay that such an invitation rewards what is being perceived as an underachieving Auburn team.

I have to admit, on the surface there seems to be some truth to this. The failure of the vaunted Auburn offense to gain a first down in two separate halves of the last two conference games is troubling in the extreme, especially given that the most productive offensive game in the entire conference this year was against another SEC West team just a month earlier.

Why the discrepancy? Are we so lacking in depth that injury to one or two key players makes the difference between gaining 540 yards on the ground and beating Arkansas by 50+ but just achieving 66 rushing yards and losing by three scores to Alabama? Or losing by six points to Georgia, who has the exact same number of wins as Arkansas?

This has troubled many fans, myself included. I know that Sean White and Kamryn Pettway were hurt and unable to take the field, but should that have halted the Gus Bus as easily as it did? Should we not have had more consistency on the field of play this year (and 2015, for that matter)?

Other teams seem able to have some level of stability around the league, don’t they?

Hold that thought a moment. I’ve got a few things to show you after the break.

contenda

Contending for the Conference title is what all of us want, Charlie.

As always, this is the Cafe Malzahn standard by which all teams in the conference are evaluated. It is derived from the accomplishments of SEC Champion teams from 2006 until 2015 and then graduated down to illustrate good and average teams from the not-so-good ones.

legend

Consistency was my initial thought when I started to look at the 2016 regular season. Auburn wasn’t the only team on my mind in that respect. I related very early in the season how schizophrenic Ole Miss’ game performance had been in the first few games, and it didn’t improve much as time went by. Likewise, I noticed several other teams who weren’t playing as well as they had in the recent past, even those who hadn’t had a coaching change, although those teams that did change coaches tended to struggle mightily but in different ways.

Take a look at the SEC West offenses. I mentioned before about how I imagined every team’s early numbers weren’t likely to prove indicative of what the season would bring.

cm1

Turns out I was right. Not very flattering is it? Alabama is clearly the Best of the West both in scoring and third down conversions. Much as I hate to admit it, this is truly a championship team in all areas. Attribute it to a good quarterback and line or give Lane Kiffen his due, but whatever the reason, they are certainly vastly improved from 2015. Auburn is good, but those inconsistent games show up in the season total by dropping the Auburn 2016 team to a good but not great squad. The same goes for LSU and Texas A&M. Both had flashes of greatness in certain games but not in every game this year. They would shine one week and be absolutely flat in others, even against similar competition.

One curious fact does show up here, however. All SEC West teams have remarkably good Yards Per Play numbers, well above average. Strangely, that isn’t translated into scoring or other production numbers, but it is possibly the best indication of the inconsistency of play by everyone except Alabama in terms of 3rd down conversions. Most of these teams would have big plays and yet stall in drives and not score.

cm3

In the East, it is a different story. Teams outside of Knoxville, Tennessee on that side of the conference are clearly struggling to move the ball. With only a couple of exceptions, the entire East is having a tough time in all aspects of offensive production. It’s messed up like a soup sandwich. Only the Vols showed any sort of consistency over time, and even they seem to struggle on third down.

Defensively the West was remarkably strong by virtue of three key teams.

cm2

Alabama, LSU and Auburn all have championship level defenses that are at the top of the conference in efficiency. Even A&M put up some decent numbers. The rest? Both Mississippi teams and Arkansas have a great deal of work to do in the offseason. Especially troubling was the precipitous fall of the Ole Miss defense over the last two years. To go from the best defense in the conference in 2014 to nearly the Worst of the West in 2016 takes some doing. It’s going to be a long 2017 season for each of those teams if they don’t show some improvement.

cm4

But the East has even less to celebrate. The short side of the conference has just one team with a championship defense, three barely above-average teams and three absolutely pitiful defenses to show for it all. What makes these numbers truly difficult to explain is that the three most productive offenses on that side of the conference have almost nothing on the defensive side of the ball. In two cases (looking at you, Kentucky and Mizzou) the defenses even allowed more points than their top performing SEC East offenses generated.

I don’t know about you, but that just strikes me as very bad news.

Which brings me to my next point. I’ve been doing the Cafe Malzahn for four years now, running my numbers every year since Gus became the Auburn head coach in 2013. In that time I’ve seen teams rise and fall, including Auburn. With the departure of the Mad Hatter, there has been a nearly 100% turnover in coaching around the league, leaving us in the curious situation in which the two longest tenured coaches in the SEC haven’t even reached double digits with their teams yet.

Where has that taken us as a league and a brand in the NCAA? Far afield than where the SEC was in 2013, let me tell you.

Let’s look at all the Conference offenses over the past four years. Taking the very simple measure of 12 points to represent championship level, 9 to 11 points to indicate a strong contender, and above 6 as a good team, I show the following numbers across the SEC year by year since 2013

table-1a

Interesting, no? In 2013, there were no fewer than four championship level offenses in the league. Two more contenders and at least 8 total teams well above average. That dropped dramatically in the following years, especially in 2015 and 2016. We now have a situation in which the offensive output is little better than any other conference around the nation.

How about defense?

table2

This was the most dramatic turnaround for me. From few good defenses to a flood of overachievers in 2015 (part of those paltry offensive numbers no doubt) to a rather surprising concentration of quality in just four teams this year.

But when you look at the combination of both of these graphs, it really jumps out at you.

table3

This was the shocker for me. I’ll go ahead and voice the obvious conclusion from this data. Hard as it is for me to admit, the chart above shows that the SEC is no longer the toughest, most dominant conference in the FBS. Whether that means a long trend or just a single underachieving season is unknown, but the data is clear. What started as a series of losses in the 2015 bowl season has continued until this day in 2016. The SEC consists of one clear championship level team and just three contenders in a rather large sea of mediocrity. Auburn’s ranking is not a fluke, an oversight nor a mistake. Good or bad, we are the second best team on the field of play in the SEC.

Collectively, since 2014 the entire Southeastern Conference has become exactly what the fan base used to decry and deride in the other four power conferences—one big fish, a couple of meaty sidekicks and a host of mediocre teams that fuel that one team’s rise in the rankings. This is the state of the conference in 2016.

In many cases the fall is dramatic. I can only describe Mississippi State’s drop in offensive productivity as having “Dak Prescott withdrawal” symptoms (although the line that blocked for him is gone too). Based upon what he’s doing for Dallas as a rookie, I’m inclined to pin much of the Bulldog woes on that, but logically that can’t be the only reason for State’s struggles. Ole Miss has also dropped like a stone from relevancy to mediocrity or worse on the defensive side of the ball, and both Georgia and Missouri seem to be suffering growing pains under new coaching staffs. The only inexplicable underachiever is Tennessee, who should have been an island of stability under their unchanged coaching staff after three solid recruiting years.

The most striking feature of this? The teams that showed dramatic improvement from 2015—LSU, Alabama and Auburn. They were the only ones that showed more than a couple of digits difference in quality. All others either stayed about the same or dropped precipitously. In fact, judging from the last four years, there are only four teams that have been regularly at or near the ‘contender’ level of quality throughout. Care to guess who those teams are?

table-4

You got it. Those three West teams and Florida have been the only constants in the sea change going on in the Southeastern Conference. Keep that in mind the next time you consider the quality of the job that Gus Malzahn has done in this league and the impact of any future coaching change. Could we be better under CGM? You betcha, and I’d love to see us challenge for the championship next year. I’m even looking forward to it. But I’m also very aware that judging from the volatility of the teams around the league, an 8–4 season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl is not bad at all.

So savor that sweetness in January. Things could be so much worse, looking at what is happening elsewhere around the conference. You could be having to match your palate with whatever gruel they happen to serve in such august establishments like Shreveport, Legion Field or Jacksonville.

bleah

Bleah. No thanks. I’d rather have Sugar instead.

The post Cafe Malzahn – Just Dessert or Just Deserts? appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Tyreek Hill shines again in prime time for Kansas City Chiefs

Former West Alabama standout Tyreek Hill helped the Kansas City Chiefs take control of the AFC West with a 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill helped the Kansas City Chiefs take control of the AFC West with a 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

Kansas City and Oakland have 10-3 records, but the Chiefs have beaten the Raiders twice this season.

A rookie from West Alabama, Hill muffed a punt in the first quarter to set up an Oakland field goal. But on the second play of the second quarter, he caught a 36-yard touchdown pass as the Chiefs took a 7-3 lead.

rachelcrader: Chiefs highlight: Tyreek Hill 36-yard touchdown catch. NBC Thursday Night Foo… https://t.co/EqrdgWQFVB pic.twitter.com/hfO5doQnny

— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) December 9, 2016

With 6:25 left in the first half, Hill returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown as Kansas City went in front 21-3.

sonofthebronx: Tyreek Hill punt return for a TD NFL Netwo… Thursday Night Football: Raiders… https://t.co/DqT3Il9jKI pic.twitter.com/82gZJBYLOn

— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) December 9, 2016

apetrosyan: And it was over [?] NBC Thursday Night Football: Raiders at Chiefs https://t.co/1aY65AwcXl pic.twitter.com/Iy6AGm1HMU

— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) December 9, 2016

Two weeks ago in a Sunday night game, Hill caught a touchdown pass, ran for another score and returned a kickoff 86 yards for a TD in the Chiefs’ 30-27 victory over the Denver Broncos.

On Thursday, he became the first NFL rookie with a TD reception, TD run, TD kickoff return and TD punt return since Gale Sayers in 1965.

For the game, Hill caught six passes for 66 yards, gained 2 yards on a rushing attempt, returned six punts for 99 yards and ran back one kickoff for 25 yards.

With Oakland quarterback Derek Carr throwing on a frigid night with an injured pinky, the Raiders couldn’t get their passing game going. Former Alabamastar Amari Cooperled Oakland with five catches for 29 yards, but that was enough to push his receiving yardage for the season to 1,010.

Wide receiver Seth Roberts, another former West Alabama star, had two receptions for 12 yards for Oakland.

Former Auburnstandout Dee Ford returned to the Chiefs’ starting lineup at right outside linebacker. Ford suffered a hamstring injury on Nov. 20, sat out a game and played as a reserve last week.

When Ford got hurt, he was tied for the NFL lead in sacks. Ford had three tackles, but no sacks, on Thursday night.

Oakland’s pass protection, anchored by center Rodney Hudson, who was a prep star at B.C. Rain in Mobile, allowed the Chiefs to get only one sack in the game – by former Central-Phenix City standout Rakeem Nunez-Roches. The Kansas City defensive lineman recorded the first sack of his NFL career.

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

Oakland hadn’t lost since its 26-10 setback against the Chiefs on Oct. 16, reeling off six straight victories.

Kansas City and Oakland have three games apiece remaining on their regular-season schedules. The Chiefs play the Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers. The Raiders play the Chargers, Indianapolis Colts and Broncos.

Tyreek Hill shines again in prime time for Kansas City Chiefs

Former West Alabama standout Tyreek Hill helped the Kansas City Chiefs take control of the AFC West with a 21-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

Auburn’s Daniel Carlson wants another shot at Groza Award – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
Auburn's Daniel Carlson wants another shot at Groza Award
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
ATLANTA — Daniel Carlson took it all in stride again, just like when he kicks field goals long and true. That's why the Auburn kicker and finalist for one of college football's top honors sent out a hopeful tweet after he saw Arizona State's Zane …
Auburn's Daniel Carlson falls short of Lou Groza Award247Sports

all 21 news articles

Auburn’s Daniel Carlson falls short for Lou Groza – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
Auburn's Daniel Carlson falls short for Lou Groza
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
ATLANTA — Daniel Carlson didn't win the Lou Groza Award on Thursday night, but the Auburn kicker still walked down the red carpet for the second year in a row as one of the best kickers in college football. “I guess I'm getting used to it. It's an …
Auburn's Daniel Carlson falls short of Lou Groza Award247Sports

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Lou Groza Award eludes Auburn’s Daniel Carlson for 2nd straight year

The redshirt junior is the SEC's leading scorer and Special Teams Player of the Year.

Gus Malzahn has repeatedly said he has the best kicker in college football, but the hardware won’t be coming to the Plains this year.

For the second straight season, Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson was edged out for the Lou Groza Award. Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez was named the 25th winner Thursday night in Atlanta over Carlson and Georgia Southern’s Younhoe Koo.

“I think just for kickers in general to have our award to compete for, it’s fun,”Carlson told reporters Wednesday prior to the award ceremony. “I guess sometimes kickers aren’t always in the spotlight, so to have a time where we get recognized for our hard work and stuff is fun.

“I came last year and to be here again as a finalist is a huge accomplishment for me. It shows that I’ve been working hard and it’s been paying off. It wouldn’t be possible, obviously, without a great team to help me out.”

Last year, UCLA’s Kai’imi Fairbairn beat Carlson and Memphis’ Jake Elliott.

How high could Carlson go in NFL Draft?

Gonzalez is the all-time record holder for career points by a kicker. He is 23-for-24 on the year, including 7-of-8 from beyond 50 yards with a long of 59.

Carlson, a redshirt junior from Colorado Springs, Colo., is the SEC’s leading scorer and Special Teams Player of the Year. He made 26 of his 30 field goals in 2016, with two of the misses being blocks, and all of his 43 point-after tries for 115 points. In addition, 54 of his 68 kickoffs were touchbacks. He scored his first career touchdown on a trick play against Arkansas State before scoring every point in Auburn’s 18-13 win over LSU and 30-12 loss to Alabama.

“Daniel did a super job again,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said after the Iron Bowl. “He’s the best kicker in college football. He’s a huge weapon. He showed that again tonight.”

Koo is 19-for-20 this season. He went 4-for-4 against Arkansas State, including a season-long 53-yard field goal.

Carlson is currently weighing his options for the NFL Draft, but said Wednesday his”heart’s definitely wanting to go back” for his final season of eligibility.

Watch Carlson discuss his NFL plans after the Iron Bowl in the video below.

DC still the best kicker to me idc what they say!!

— Stanton tru (@TRUitt_thaTRUth) December 9, 2016

Lou Groza Award eludes Auburn’s Daniel Carlson for 2nd straight year

The redshirt junior is the SEC’s leading scorer and Special Teams Player of the Year.

Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson repeats as Walter Camp second team All-American

Daniel Carlson picked up his second All-American honors of the season.

Daniel Carlson picked up his second All-American honors of the season.

Auburn’s kicker repeated as a Walter Camp Football Foundation second team All-American.

The nation’s oldest All-America squad was announced at The Home Depot ESPN college football awards on Thursday in Atlanta.

Also up for the Lou Groza award for the second straight year, Carlson was named a second team All-American by the Sporting News on Wednesday and among six Auburn players to earn All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches on Tuesday.

How high could Daniel Carlson go in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Carlson had made 26 of 30 field goals this season and also scored a touchdown on a fake field goal against Arkansas State.

He was also a second team All-American selection by Pro Football Focus.

Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson repeats as Walter Camp second team All-American

Daniel Carlson picked up his second All-American honors of the season.

‘A long, full life’ – Remembering Auburn Network announcer Charlie Davis – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
'A long, full life' – Remembering Auburn Network announcer Charlie Davis
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
AUBURN, Ala. – Gary Sanders' first three seasons announcing Auburn football games, from 1968-1970, coincided with the last three for Charlie Davis, who was Auburn's color commentator from 1954-1970. “Charlie was the penalty guy,” Sanders recalled.

‘A long, full life’ – Remembering Auburn Network announcer Charlie Davis – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
'A long, full life' – Remembering Auburn Network announcer Charlie Davis
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
AUBURN, Ala. – Gary Sanders' first three seasons announcing Auburn football games, from 1968-1970, coincided with the last three for Charlie Davis, who was Auburn's color commentator from 1954-1970. “Charlie was the penalty guy,” Sanders recalled.

Hearing continued for Toomer’s Corner tree fire starter Jochen Wiest

Jochen Wiest will have to stay in Alabama, at least for a few more weeks.

Jochen Wiest will have to stay in Alabama, at least for a few more weeks.

A bond hearing to determine if Wiest, the man who set the tree fire at Toomer’s Corner following Auburn’s win over LSU earlier this fall, would have his passport returned from authorities was set for Thursday afternoon but has been continued until Dec. 21 due to attorney illness.

Margaret Brown, Wiest’s court-appointed lawyer, requested a continuance due to her having laryngitis and claims she had been unable to determine who was handling the case for the district attorney’s office.

Lee County Circuit Court judge Steven Speakman granted the continuance.

During last week’s initial bond hearing for Wiest, Speakman said he was “inclined to grant” Wiest’s request for the return of his passport as long as the 29-year-old German signed extradition documents and posted additional cash bond that would cover the cost of the “absolute worst-case scenario” for replacing the damaged tree, as outlined by Auburn professor of horticulture Dr. Gary Keever.

As of last week,Keever told AL.com there had been “no appreciable changes in the condition of the tree” on W. Magnolia Ave.

Keever has estimated between 60 to 70 percent of the tree’s canopy was dead and told authorities it would cost between $15,000 to $20,000 to replace in event it dies.

Brown, who has admitted in court that Wiest is the man seen on surveillance footage setting the fire, said her client is willing to sign an extradition agreement that would ensure his return to the United States, if there eventually is an indictment in the case, and would post additional cash bond “in such a way that restitution can be ensured.”

Who is Jochen Wiest?

Wiest, 29, is charged with first-degree felony criminal mischief, desecration of a venerable object and public intoxication for setting fire to toilet paper hanging from the Magnolia Ave. oak tree at Toomer’s Corner shortly after midnight on Sept. 25.

He was arrested by Auburn police shortly after the incident, which was captured on surveillance video, and identified by numerous eyewitnesses.

Auburn student who confronted man who set tree fire at Toomer’s Corner

Wiest had a black lighter in his possession when he was taken into custody and “provided a rights advised statement denying that he started the fire,” according to court documents.

In October, the case against Wiest was sent to the grand jury, which has yet to hear the case. The next grand jury is March 9.

The penalty for criminal mischief, a Class C felony in Alabama, ranges from no less than one year and one day to no more than 10 years in jail. Desecration of a venerable object and public intoxication, both misdemeanor charges, carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and a maximum $6,000 fine.

Hearing continued for Toomer’s Corner tree fire starter Jochen Wiest

Jochen Wiest will have to stay in Alabama, at least for a few more weeks.

Two Auburn defenders named to SEC All-Freshman team

Auburn landed two freshmen on the SEC All-Freshman defensive team, which was announced by the conference Thursday afternoon.

Two Auburn defenders named to SEC All-Freshman team

Auburn landed two freshmen on the SEC All-Freshman defensive team, which was announced by the conference Thursday afternoon.

A pair of Auburn freshman defenders made the most of their debut seasons.

Defensive end Marlon Davidson and cornerback Javaris Davis were named to the SEC All-Freshman team on Thursday afternoon. The team was voted on by the league’s 14 head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.

Davidson, a former four-star prospect out of Greenville, flourished during his first season at Auburn. The 6-foot-3, 273-pounder became the first freshman to start along Auburn’s defensive line since at least 1985, which is as far back as the program records for that stat go.

Davidson started in all 12 games for Auburn during the regular season, recording 35 total tackles, including six for a loss and 2.5 sacks. He also forced a fumble and batted down two passes at the line of scrimmage while anchoring the defensive line opposite Carl Lawson.

Davis, a redshirt freshman, appeared in all 12 games for the Tigers this season, making four starts in the secondary, including each of the final two games of the regular season. He had 32 tackles on the season, including 26 solo stops and six behind the line of scrimmage.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder added a pair of interceptions and six pass breakups, which ranked tied for second and fourth, respectively, on the team.

Davidson reflects on “pretty big” freshman season

Two Auburn freshmen named to league’s All-Freshman team

Auburn defensive lineman Marlon Davidson and defensive back Javaris Davis have been named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team, the league announced Thursday.

Marlon Davidson, Javaris Davis on All-SEC freshman team – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Marlon Davidson, Javaris Davis on All-SEC freshman team
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
'A great experience' – Travis Williams' Sugar… Football – 12/05/2016 – The second he walked off the bus, Travis Williams realized this was no ordinary football game. &#… Sport. Gus Malzahn upbeat about injuries as Auburn… Football – 12/04/2016 …

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Auburn draft watch: Who could go pro after the Sugar Bowl

The Sugar Bowl could serve as the curtain call for some of the top Tigers.

Auburn draft watch: Who could go pro after the Sugar Bowl

The Sugar Bowl could serve as the curtain call for some of the top Tigers.

Watch video

The Sugar Bowl will be the final game of Auburn’s 2016-17 season and could also serve as the curtain call for some of the top Tigers.

Montravius Adams, Alex Kozan and Rudy Ford are the top departures among Auburn’s seniors but several underclassmen are also candidates to enter the NFL Draft.

Though he’s not publicly announced his decision, fourth-year junior defensive end Carl Lawson is widely-projected as a first-round pick and expected to enter the draft.

Lawson, right guard Braden Smith, third-year sophomore running back Kamryn Pettway and kicker Daniel Carlson are among the underclassmen who could consider the NFL. All but Carlson, who has reiterated his plans to return, have been mum on their futures.

AL.com’s Lauren Sisler and James Crepea discuss who could go pro from Auburn following this season.

How high could Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson go in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Kickers are rarely selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft but Auburn’s Daniel Carlson could put that to the test should he choose to go pro after this season.

How high could Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson go in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Kickers are rarely selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft but Auburn's Daniel Carlson could put that to the test should he choose to go pro after this season.

Watch video

Kickers are rarely selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft but Auburn’s Daniel Carlson could put that to the test should he choose to go pro after this season.

Carlson is a finalist for the Lou Groza award for the second straight year after making 26 of 30 field goals and was a second team All-American selection by the Sporting News.

The fourth-year junior, who already has a Bachelor’s degree and is in graduate school, has said he plans to return to Auburn for his senior season but will request an evaluation by the NFL’s College Advisory Committee.

“I’ve thought about (the NFL), just because you hear the talk about it and stuff,” Carlson said on Wednesday. “I think it’s good to at least weigh my options, but I think my heart’s definitely wanting to go back to Auburn and have another year. …

“To be able to finish grad school, that’s something I’m hoping I can do. Obviously you can do that later on in life after the NFL, but that’s one of the goals I’ve set. There are a lot more records I could break in college.”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Carlson as the top-rated kicker should he choose to enter this year’s draft.

“I wouldn’t take a kicker too high but if Carlson came out, how high could he go? (Roberto) Aguayo went second round and Carlson’s grade’s right in there,” Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “If I had to project it right now for Carlson, I would say third round with a possibility of being a second(-round pick).”

Aguayo was the only kicker drafted last year and his selection in the second round with the 59th overall pick in last year’s draft was a sudden spike compared to previous drafts.

No kickers were drafted in 2015, two were picked in the seventh round in 2014 and neither are still in the league and two were drafted in 2013, going in the fifth and sixth rounds.

Typically, teams will sign undrafted kickers to create a preseason competition and made a decision as to long-term viability towards the end of kicker’s first contract.

Kiper said the change to the distance of NFL PATs could impact the value of kickers in the draft, but teams will be weary after Aguayo’s rocky start.

“I think (the longer PATs) certainly makes you look at it a little closer,” Kiper said. “But you got to be careful; Aguoyo struggled a little bit last year, wasn’t as good as he had been the previous two years. They traded up to get him in the second round, Tampa Bay did, and Aguoyo has had a major issue, been a major problem for them putting the ball through the uprights.”

Mel Kiper Jr.’s assessment of Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway

Kamryn Pettway's breakout season to lead Auburn's rushing attack could lead to significant attention should he choose to go pro after this season.

Watch video

Kamryn Pettway’s breakout season to lead Auburn’s rushing attack could lead to significant attention should he choose to go pro after this season.

Despite missing three games and not having a carry during the season opener, Pettway has 1,123 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. believes Pettway, a third-year sophomore, could be a mid-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

“He had that injury late in the year but he was unbelievable up until that point,” Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “He just runs over people and he’s got some quickness. He’s right now, would be in that top 12 running backs. If he was completely healthy all year maybe would have been in that 6-8 range.

“He could have been in the second-third-round discussion had he finished out strong.”

Pettway missed the games against Georgia and Alabama A&M due to a quad injury suffered late against Vanderbilt but returned to action in the Iron Bowl. He is expected to be in better condition for the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma.

Last month, Kiper ranked Pettway seventh among draft-eligible running backs. Kiper’s top eight at the position were all underclassmen who would have to forgo at least one year of college eligibility to enter the draft.

It’s unclear whether Pettway will ask for an evaluation from the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, which projects players as potential first or second-round picks or neither. Teams are permitted evaluations for five players each year.

Using last year’s draft as an example of the value of the position, could make for a tough decision for Pettway.

The seventh running back selected in the 2016 draft, Devaotae Booker, wasn’t taken until the No. 167 overall pick at the end of the fourth round while six more running backs went in the fifth round.

“That’s a tough call for a running back,” Kiper said. “There’s going to be probably four running backs in the first round, it looks like 3-4 more in the second. (Pettway) would be in that mix. … Running backs drop a little bit further.

“You get in that second round, third round mix and it depends on who is going to take a running back at that point with not many teams in the NFL really needing one.”

Mel Kiper Jr.’s assessment of Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway

Kamryn Pettway's breakout season to lead Auburn's rushing attack could lead to significant attention should he choose to go pro after this season.

Watch video

Kamryn Pettway’s breakout season to lead Auburn’s rushing attack could lead to significant attention should he choose to go pro after this season.

Despite missing three games and not having a carry during the season opener, Pettway has 1,123 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. believes Pettway, a third-year sophomore, could be a mid-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

“He had that injury late in the year but he was unbelievable up until that point,” Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “He just runs over people and he’s got some quickness. He’s right now, would be in that top 12 running backs. If he was completely healthy all year maybe would have been in that 6-8 range.

“He could have been in the second-third-round discussion had he finished out strong.”

Pettway missed the games against Georgia and Alabama A&M due to a quad injury suffered late against Vanderbilt but returned to action in the Iron Bowl. He is expected to be in better condition for the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma.

Last month, Kiper ranked Pettway seventh among draft-eligible running backs. Kiper’s top eight at the position were all underclassmen who would have to forgo at least one year of college eligibility to enter the draft.

It’s unclear whether Pettway will ask for an evaluation from the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, which projects players as potential first or second-round picks or neither. Teams are permitted evaluations for five players each year.

Using last year’s draft as an example of the value of the position, could make for a tough decision for Pettway.

The seventh running back selected in the 2016 draft, Devaotae Booker, wasn’t taken until the No. 167 overall pick at the end of the fourth round while six more running backs went in the fifth round.

“That’s a tough call for a running back,” Kiper said. “There’s going to be probably four running backs in the first round, it looks like 3-4 more in the second. (Pettway) would be in that mix. … Running backs drop a little bit further.

“You get in that second round, third round mix and it depends on who is going to take a running back at that point with not many teams in the NFL really needing one.”

Mel Kiper Jr.’s assessment of Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway

Kamryn Pettway’s breakout season to lead Auburn’s rushing attack could lead to significant attention should he choose to go pro after this season.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Montravius Adams to go in 2017 NFL Draft?

Following the best season of his career, Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams has seen a surge to his draft stock.

Watch video

Following the best season of his career, Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams has seen a surge to his draft stock.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects Adams, who has 39 tackles including 4.5 sacks, to be a second or third-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

“Montravius Adams really came on and played really well down the stretch,”Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “He’s the sixth-highest-rated defensive tackle, for me, he’s got a second-round grade.”

Adams, a senior, also has an interception, two blocked kicks and recovered two fumbles, with one returned for touchdown this season.

NFLDraftScout.comranks Adams, an second team All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches, as a third or fourth-round pick in this year’s draft.

Several analysts have begun to move Adams, who accepted an invite to this year’s Senior Bowl, up their draft boards.

“I would say Adams, second, third-to-second round possibility,” Kiper said.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Montravius Adams to go in 2017 NFL Draft?

Following the best season of his career, Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams has seen a surge to his draft stock.

Watch video

Following the best season of his career, Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams has seen a surge to his draft stock.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects Adams, who has 39 tackles including 4.5 sacks, to be a second or third-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

“Montravius Adams really came on and played really well down the stretch,”Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “He’s the sixth-highest-rated defensive tackle, for me, he’s got a second-round grade.”

Adams, a senior, also has an interception, two blocked kicks and recovered two fumbles, with one returned for touchdown this season.

NFLDraftScout.comranks Adams, an second team All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches, as a third or fourth-round pick in this year’s draft.

Several analysts have begun to move Adams, who accepted an invite to this year’s Senior Bowl, up their draft boards.

“I would say Adams, second, third-to-second round possibility,” Kiper said.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Montravius Adams to go in 2017 NFL Draft?

Following the best season of his career, Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams has seen a surge to his draft stock.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Carl Lawson in 2017 NFL Draft?

Kiper has been consistent on his outlook on the Auburn defensive end

Watch video

If Carl Lawson was able to stay healthy for all of 2016, he was widely expected to be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Auburn defensive end achieved the former and now the latter is widely expected to come to fruition.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects Lawson, who has 28 tackles with 12.5 for loss including nine sacks this season, to contend to be among the first 32 players selected in April’s draft.

“If Lawson could’ve just stayed healthy his whole career and maximized all of that ability on a game-to-game basis he’d be a top 10-15 guy,”Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “He’s still, in my opinion, the eighth-best defensive end and he’s been as high as four or five. I think he’s got a chance to be in the first-round discussion.

“I think I have him more with a second-round grade right now. … (He’ll go in the) first two rounds; maybe the first.”

Kiper has been consistent on his outlook on the 6-foot-2, 253-pound Lawson, projecting him as a first-round pick in the 2017 draft as far back as January.

NFLDraftScout.comranks Lawson, an first team All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches, as the No. 26 overall prospect in this year’s draft.

Lawson has not publicly announced his decision for next season and it’s unclear whether he’ll request an evaluation from the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, but his departure is widely expected. He sat with Auburn’s seniors during Fan Day in August and took part in the Senior Day ceremony prior to Auburn’s home finale against Alabama A&M.

It was a bounce back season for Lawson, who missed six games in 2015 due to a hip injury and recorded just 17 tackles including three for loss with one sack and 11 hurries in seven games.

Lawson missed the 2014 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He earned All-SEC honors as a freshman, when he had 20 tackles including 7.5 for loss with four sacks along with seven hurries and two forced fumbles.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Carl Lawson in 2017 NFL Draft?

Kiper has been consistent on his outlook on the Auburn defensive end

Watch video

If Carl Lawson was able to stay healthy for all of 2016, he was widely expected to be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Auburn defensive end achieved the former and now the latter is widely expected to come to fruition.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects Lawson, who has 28 tackles with 12.5 for loss including nine sacks this season, to contend to be among the first 32 players selected in April’s draft.

“If Lawson could’ve just stayed healthy his whole career and maximized all of that ability on a game-to-game basis he’d be a top 10-15 guy,”Kiper said during a conference call Thursday. “He’s still, in my opinion, the eighth-best defensive end and he’s been as high as four or five. I think he’s got a chance to be in the first-round discussion.

“I think I have him more with a second-round grade right now. … (He’ll go in the) first two rounds; maybe the first.”

Kiper has been consistent on his outlook on the 6-foot-2, 253-pound Lawson, projecting him as a first-round pick in the 2017 draft as far back as January.

NFLDraftScout.comranks Lawson, an first team All-SEC selection by the league’s coaches, as the No. 26 overall prospect in this year’s draft.

Lawson has not publicly announced his decision for next season and it’s unclear whether he’ll request an evaluation from the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, but his departure is widely expected. He sat with Auburn’s seniors during Fan Day in August and took part in the Senior Day ceremony prior to Auburn’s home finale against Alabama A&M.

It was a bounce back season for Lawson, who missed six games in 2015 due to a hip injury and recorded just 17 tackles including three for loss with one sack and 11 hurries in seven games.

Lawson missed the 2014 season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He earned All-SEC honors as a freshman, when he had 20 tackles including 7.5 for loss with four sacks along with seven hurries and two forced fumbles.

Where does Mel Kiper Jr. project Auburn’s Carl Lawson in 2017 NFL Draft?

Kiper has been consistent on his outlook on the Auburn defensive end

The Entire 1972 Auburn-Oklahoma Sugar Bowl

Auburn and Oklahoma will face off in the 83rd Sugar Bowl on January 2nd, 2017. It will be the 2nd meeting all-time between the two teams.

That other time? Yeah, it was in the 38th Sugar Bowl. #3 Oklahoma beat #5 Auburn in that one by a score of 40-22 on January 1st, 1972. And wouldn’t you know it, somebody has the whole thing on YouTube. Watch it. It includes Heisman trophy winner Pat Sullivan.

I also found a New Orleans/Sugar Bowl propaganda/highlight film.

And here’s a highlight video of the game from a Oklahoma’s perspective.


Auburn lands 7 on AP All-SEC team, including 5 1st-team selections

Seven Auburn players were voted to the Associated Press All-SEC team on Thursday, including five first-team selections.

Seven Auburn players were selected to the Associated Press All-SEC team, which was announced Thursday afternoon. Five of the Auburn players earned first-team honors.

Running back Kamryn Pettway, guards Alex Kozan and Braden Smith, defensive tackle Montravius Adams and kicker Daniel Carlson were all elected to the All-SEC first-team, which was voted on by a panel of 14 media members from throughout the conference. Right tackle Robert Leff and defensive end Carl Lawson earned second-team honors.

Pettway finished the regular season with 1,129 rushing yards, which ranked sixth in the league, and seven touchdowns. He averaged 124.78 yards per game, which was tops in the conference. The third-year sophomore accomplished that despite sitting out three entire games, not recording a carry in the opener against Clemson and only two second-half carries during Auburn’s win against LSU.

Kozan and Smith, along with first-year starter Leff, helped anchor Auburn’s offensive line. The Tigers finished the year tops in the SEC in rushing yards with 3,342 — an average of 278.5 yards per game. The unit also allowed just 19 sacks on the year, which was fourth fewest in the conference.

Adams put together the most complete season of his four-year Auburn career, totaling 39 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. He also had an interception, a fumble returned for a touchdown and 15 quarterback hurries.

Carlson named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year

Carlson, who was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year on Wednesday, led the conference in scoring with 127 points. He was 26-of-30 on field goal attempts, with only two true misses; the other two misses were blocked at the line of scrimmage. He was also a perfect 43-of-43 on extra points and led the conference with a touchback percentage of 79.41 percent.

Carlson also scored a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt against Arkansas in early September.

Lawson, playing his first fully healthy season since 2013, had 28 total tackles, including 12.5 for a loss. He led Auburn with nine sacks on the season, which was tied for third in the SEC.

Auburn lands 7 on AP All-SEC team, including 5 1st-team selections

Seven Auburn players were voted to the Associated Press All-SEC team on Thursday, including five first-team selections.

Seven Auburn players were selected to the Associated Press All-SEC team, which was announced Thursday afternoon. Five of the Auburn players earned first-team honors.

Running back Kamryn Pettway, guards Alex Kozan and Braden Smith, defensive tackle Montravius Adams and kicker Daniel Carlson were all elected to the All-SEC first-team, which was voted on by a panel of 14 media members from throughout the conference. Right tackle Robert Leff and defensive end Carl Lawson earned second-team honors.

Pettway finished the regular season with 1,129 rushing yards, which ranked sixth in the league, and seven touchdowns. He averaged 124.78 yards per game, which was tops in the conference. The third-year sophomore accomplished that despite sitting out three entire games, not recording a carry in the opener against Clemson and only two second-half carries during Auburn’s win against LSU.

Kozan and Smith, along with first-year starter Leff, helped anchor Auburn’s offensive line. The Tigers finished the year tops in the SEC in rushing yards with 3,342 — an average of 278.5 yards per game. The unit also allowed just 19 sacks on the year, which was fourth fewest in the conference.

Adams put together the most complete season of his four-year Auburn career, totaling 39 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. He also had an interception, a fumble returned for a touchdown and 15 quarterback hurries.

Carlson named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year

Carlson, who was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year on Wednesday, led the conference in scoring with 127 points. He was 26-of-30 on field goal attempts, with only two true misses; the other two misses were blocked at the line of scrimmage. He was also a perfect 43-of-43 on extra points and led the conference with a touchback percentage of 79.41 percent.

Carlson also scored a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt against Arkansas in early September.

Lawson, playing his first fully healthy season since 2013, had 28 total tackles, including 12.5 for a loss. He led Auburn with nine sacks on the season, which was tied for third in the SEC.

Auburn lands 7 on AP All-SEC team, including 5 1st-team selections

Seven Auburn players were voted to the Associated Press All-SEC team on Thursday, including five first-team selections.

Auburn puts five on AP first team All-SEC

Auburn had seven total players voted on to the Associated Press’ All-SEC team, five players on first team and two on the second.

NFL Week 14 schedule: Dee Ford off injury list for Chiefs-Raiders showdown on Thursday night

The schedule for the 14th week of the NFL's 2016 season, with TV and odds.

When Oakland and Kansas City squared off for the first time this season, Chiefs outside linebacker Dee Fordsacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr twice and forced him to fumble once.

How rare was that?

The Raiders’ pass protection, anchored by former B.C. Rain High School standout Rodney Hudsonat center, has allowed Carr to be sacked only 12 times in Oakland’s 12 games, the fewest in the NFL this season.

The Chiefs’ 26-10 victory on Oct. 16 started Ford rocketing up the NFL’s sacks list. The former St. Clair High School and Auburnstar had 1.5 sacks in Kansas City’s first four games. Starting with the win over Oakland, he recorded 8.5 sacks in five games.

But on Nov. 20, Ford left the Chiefs’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a hamstring injury and missed the next game on Nov. 27. He came back on Sunday to play 26 snaps against the Atlanta Falcons and does not appear on the injury report for the rematch with the Raiders.

Oakland visits Kansas City on Thursday night to kick off Week 14 of the NFL’s 2016 season with an AFC West showdown.

The Raiders haven’t lost since the previous game against Kansas City, reeling off six wins in a row. The Chiefs have gone 6-1 since beating Oakland. The Raiders lead the AFC West with a 10-2 record, the Chiefs are one game back at 9-3 and the Denver Broncos are breathing down their necks at 8-4.

Carr has had the time to turn in an MVP-caliber season, a component of which has been throwing to wide receiver Amari Cooper. The former Alabamastar caught 10 passes for 129 yards in the earlier meeting with Kansas City. With 19 more receiving yards, Cooper will become the ninth player in NFL history with 1,000 in each of his first two seasons.

NBC and NFL Network will televise the Raiders-Chiefs game at 7:25 p.m. CST Thursday from Arrowhead Stadium, giving viewers the opportunity to see how the players deal with the elements. Temperature at kickoff is predicted to be 19 degrees in Kansas City with a wind chill between 0 and 8 degrees.

The other nationally televised games on the Week 14 schedule are the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on NBC and the Baltimore Ravens-New England Patriots at 7:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

On broadcast TV on Sunday, the state’s CBS affiliates will have split coverage at noon, with the Birmingham and Huntsville markets getting the Denver Broncos-Tennessee Titans game and the southern half of the state getting the Pittsburgh Steelers-Buffalo Bills game.

FOX has the Sunday doubleheader. The state’s affiliates will show the Washington Redskins-Philadelphia Eagles game at noon, although viewers in the Columbus, Ga., market will be able to see the San Diego Chargers-Carolina Panthers game. For the second game at 3:25 p.m., the Mobile market will have the New Orleans Saints-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game while the rest of the state’s FOX affiliates will broadcast the Atlanta Falcons-Los Angeles Rams game.

CHECK OUT MAPS OF SUNDAY’S BROADCAST TV COVERAGE

Sunday’s San Diego Chargers-Carolina Panthers contest normally would be a solid State of Alabama Game of the Week. The teams have 12 players on their rosters from Alabama high schools and colleges. But the Cincinnati Bengals-Cleveland Browns Battle of Ohio outdoes it.

The Bengals and Browns have 15 players with Alabama football roots on their rosters, including seven former Auburn players and Trae Elston, who signed with Cleveland on Wednesday. Elston, a rookie safety from Oxford High School, went to training camp with the New Orleans Saints and spent about a month on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad.

Elston becomes the third Oxford alumnus on an NFL active roster, joining Tampa Bay middle linebacker Kwon Alexander and Miami Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain.

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

The complete Week 14 schedule (with all times central and with point spreads from vegasinsider.com):

Thursday

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-3), 7:25 p.m. (NBC, NFL Network)

Sunday

Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) at Buffalo Bills, noon
San Diego Chargers at Carolina Panthers (-1.5), noon
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-5.5), noon
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-8), noon
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-6), noon
Minnesota Vikings (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars, noon
Arizona Cardinals at Miami Dolphins (-1), noon
Washington Redskins (-1) at Philadelphia Eagles, noon
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (-1), noon
New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5), 3:05 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Green Bay Packers, 3:25 p.m.
Atlanta Falcons (-6) at Los Angeles Rams, 3:25 p.m.
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5), 3:25 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at New York Giants, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)

Monday

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-7), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

NFL Week 14 schedule: Dee Ford off injury list for Chiefs-Raiders showdown on Thursday night

The schedule for the 14th week of the NFL’s 2016 season, with TV and odds.

Auburn commit, Alabama all-star linebacker T.D. Moultry: ‘I’m not a normal recruit’

Catching up with T.D. Moultry, one of five Auburn commits at the Alabama-Mississippi game

Expect Auburn commit T.D. Moultryto play with an extra edge in Saturday’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, just like he will for future Iron Bowls.

Moultry, a linebacker who grew up an Alabama fan, committed to Auburn in May. Alabama didn’t recruit him as hard, he said, at the time. The Jackson-Olin standout was a late add for this week’s game, which will be played on Saturday at noon at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.

He likely would have been an original selection, but was choosing to focus on the Jan. 7 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He was asked again if he wanted to play after Markail Benton had to drop out due to a knee injury.

“(Because of) my family, my community, my city and most definitely my state,” the 6-foot-3, 224-pound Moultry said. “I just like to compete so I wanted to come out here and compete with these young men before we go off to college. Being out here is like family to me because football is family.”

He’s part of an Alabama team that includes four Auburn commitments. McAdory cornerback Malcolm Askew, Oxford linebacker K.J. Britt, Muscle Shoals safety Jordyn Peters and Hewitt-Trussville receiver Noah Igbinoghene are the others.

“So far, they’re all playing good and looking good,” Moultry said after Wednesday’s practice. “That’s good to showcase for Auburn to let Auburn know how we’re doing.”

Moultry was locked in with Auburn, but wanted to take official visits to other schools to enjoy the process. But that likely won’t work out, and it’s probably because schools feel like there is no way they can get him to flip his pledge.

They’re right.

Alabama showed more interest late in the season, but it didn’t matter. Moultry did secure tickets to the Iron Bowl, but he went as an Auburn fan, not as a recruit.

“They had (come on late), but I told every college coach and my coach told them – he told them that I’m not a normal recruit,” Moultry said. “I told every coach who recruited me that I was committed to Auburn and didn’t want to be recruited any more.

T.D. Moultry motivated by love of family, football

“I didn’t tell ‘Bama because they didn’t recruit me as hard. I don’t know why they started now. I told Georgia that I wasn’t coming there because y’all didn’t tell me about education. I let every coach know that I’m a young man and I’m not a recruit. If you recruit me, I’m like family. I’m a family-type guy.

“That’s how I got to Auburn. That’s how they recruited me when they started and that’s how they still recruit me.”

Moultry said he didn’t waver after growing up an Alabama fan.

“It wasn’t hard,” Moultry said. “When you grow up, you realize that the stuff you like, it doesn’t matter any more. You go where your heart tells you.”

When asked if he’ll play with an extra edge in the Iron Bowl, Moultry said, “I will have to. It’s a rivalry game, so I will have to. Just like Alabama-Mississippi, it’s a rivalry game. You give that 110 percent, but you have to give that 115-120 here.”

5 questions with Auburn commit T.D. Moultry

Moultry will likely play inside linebacker for Auburn, but could also move outside and be a pass rusher or play with his hand on the ground. His frame will allow more weight. Moultry skyrocketed up recruiting rankings and isNo. 3 on the AL.com A-List after a big senior season.

He’s a four-star recruit, ranked No. 156 nationally, but could move up even more as all four services – 247Sports, Rivals, Scout and ESPN – adjust postseason rankings. 247Sports has Moultry ranked No.49 overall and No. 1 in the state individually.

Moultry helped lead Jackson-Olin to its first playoff berth in 17 years. He had 133 total tackles, five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two fumbles forced.

“My coach (at Auburn) told me inside, but for my speed and my hands, he’ll probably put me down (on the edge),” Moultry said. “He told me that, after three or four years when I get into college, if God blesses me to go to the league, he wants scouts to look at me because I’m versatile. He wants me to play inside or outside. If he wants me to put my hand on the ground, I will.”

Gallery preview

Auburn commit, Alabama all-star linebacker T.D. Moultry: ‘I’m not a normal recruit’

Catching up with T.D. Moultry, one of five Auburn commits at the Alabama-Mississippi game

Oklahoma Sooners Football: Scouting the Auburn Tigers Pt. 2 – Crimson and Cream Machine

Oklahoma Sooners Football: Scouting the Auburn Tigers Pt. 2
Crimson and Cream Machine
This week, Crimson & Cream Machine will do some advance scouting on Oklahoma's Sugar Bowl opponent, the Auburn Tigers. Normally, CCM scouts the other team in one post before a game based on recent performance. But since we have an entire…

Best of Auburn fan photos: Look back on 2016 fan fashion, tailgating and more

Whether fans went for subtle spirit with various hues of orange and blue or sported full-body Tigers stripes, Auburn supporters definitely showed off their team spirit this year.

Best of Auburn fan photos: Look back on 2016 fan fashion, tailgating and more

Whether fans went for subtle spirit with various hues of orange and blue or sported full-body Tigers stripes, Auburn supporters definitely showed off their team spirit this year.

A Defense to Remember!

lsu-dline

The line featured a pair of All-SEC talents
(Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, everybody! This morning, we’ll take a look back at the 2016 Auburn defense. Since the departure of coach Tommy Tuberville, every season Tiger fans have hoped for a respectable defense, and instead dubious records on the defensive side of the ball have been the norm in most years. The best defense Auburn fielded before 2016 since Tuberville was the 2010 squad that gave up 24.0 yards per game. The 2016 defense allowed only 15.6 points per game.

     What is truly remarkable about this past season’s defense is that it got the job done even when the offense had long stretches of futility. One must hearken back to the days of middle-Dye and Tuberville years to see averages like those posted this season by Auburn. In this day of offenses that routinely post more than 30 points per game, the 15.6-point average is remarkable.

     A good defense always begins with a stout defensive line. Auburn’s Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams both made this season’s All-SEC team, but the line’s strength went way beyond that pair. Also recording stats on the Auburn line were Marlon Davidson, Dontavius Russell, Maurice Swain, Devaroe Lawrence, Andrew Williams, Jeffrey Holland, Derrick Brown, Byron Cowart, Paul James, Gary Walker, and Tyler Carter. That is 13 different defensive linemen who got into games and made tackles. This allowed Auburn to be effective on defense well into the 4th quarter. Auburn only gave up 35 4th quarter points all season, an average of just 2.5 points per game.

     Coming into this season, the linebacker position was a great worry. There was little experience returning at the position other than Tré Williams, who had been mostly a second teamer. Prior to this past season, if you told me that Williams was going to miss a chunk of the season, I’d have been pretty certain we were going to give up close to 30 points a game. Instead, a host of play-making linebackers emerged. Tré Williams did lead the linebackers in total tackles, with 63. That mark was second on the team, overall. Joining Williams in total tackles in the linebacking corps were Deshaun Davis (55), Darrell Williams (49), T. J. Neal (29), and Montravius Atkinson (25).

     The depth movement continued into the secondary. Safety Tray Matthews led the team in tackles with 73. Others adding tackles in the secondary were Jonathan Ford (59), Stephen Roberts (49), Carlton Davis (42), Javaris Davis (32), Nick Ruffin (27), Joshua Holsey (25) and Daniel Thomas (15). The secondary contributed 10 interceptions and 46 pass breakups. The secondary was a great overall safety net, which helped keep scores down. Auburn gave up only 34 plays of more than 20 yards all season. That’s an average of just 2.8 such plays per game.

     There were many defensive superlatives this season. Auburn allowed just 3.6 yards per rush and only 5 rushing touchdowns. Through the air, opponents managed just 6.1 yards per pass and scored 12 touchdowns. Auburn got off the field well on third down as opponents converted just 34 percent of the time. Teams that made it into the Auburn red zone managed touchdowns just 34 percent of the time.

     The future looks bright for this defense as well. Out of the two-deep playing rotation, the only seniors on the defense are Joshua Holsey, Jonathan Ford, T.J. Neal, Maurice Swain, Devaroe Lawrence, and Montravius Adams. Junior Carl Lawson will likely declare for the NFL draft. Even with these departures, Auburn will have a stocked and loaded defense next season.

The post A Defense to Remember! appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Why the Sugar Bowl matters to Auburn

Despite a poor finish to the regular season, Auburn has a chance to win a premiere bowl game over a Power 5 conference champion that went undefeated in its league

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Despite a poor finish to the regular season, Auburn has a chance to win a premiere bowl game over a Power 5 conference champion that went undefeated in its league.

The Sugar Bowl meeting with Oklahoma on Jan. 2 in New Orleans will present a stage for Auburn to get back on track offensively after two dismal displays against Georgia and Alabama.

Defensively, Auburn faces the task of containing Oklahoma’s two Heisman Trophy finalists, Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook.

AL.com’s Lauren Sisler and James Crepea discuss why the Sugar Bowl means something to Auburn.

Why the Sugar Bowl matters to Gus Malzahn and why it doesn’t

Why the Sugar Bowl matters to Auburn

Despite a poor finish to the regular season, Auburn has a chance to win a premiere bowl game over a Power 5 conference champion that went undefeated in its league

Auburn’s Alex Kozan, Daniel Carlson named Second Team All-Americans by Sporting News

The accolades are piling up for Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson and left guard Alex Kozan.

The accolades are piling up for Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson and left guard Alex Kozan.

Both namedAll-SEC by the league’s coaches on Tuesday, Carlson and Kozan were both named Second Team All-Americans by the Sporting News.

A Lou Groza award finalist for the second straight year, Carlson made 26 of 30 field goals this season. He also scored a touchdown on a fake field goal against Arkansas State.

Carlson was also a second team All-American selection by Pro Football Focus, which also had Robert Leff, Braden Smith and Carl Lawson among it’s All-SEC selections.

A fifth-year senior, Kozan was a key force up front for the SEC’s leading rushing attack. He was also a team captain.

Auburn’s Alex Kozan, Daniel Carlson named Second Team All-Americans by Sporting News

The accolades are piling up for Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson and left guard Alex Kozan.

Longtime SEC critic Bob Stoops says ‘every league is good’

Bob Stoops has been one of the more vocal critics of the SEC during his 18-year reign at Oklahoma.

Longtime SEC critic Bob Stoops says ‘every league is good’

Bob Stoops has been one of the more vocal critics of the SEC during his 18-year reign at Oklahoma.

Bob Stoops has been one of the more vocal critics of the SEC during his 18-year reign at Oklahoma.

Back in 2004, a year Auburn fans won’t ever forget, Stoops came just shy of accusing ESPN of SEC bias as debate raged about who were two best teams among then-undefeated Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Auburn, which was left out of that year’s BCS National Championship.

“I’m saying I’m aware of what their contracts are with,” Stoops said of ESPN in Nov. 2004. “Whether people are directed in certain ways, I’m not going to say that.”

Three years ago, Stoops took exception to the “propaganda” about the perceived gap between the SEC, which was riding a streak of seven straight BCS titles, and the rest of college football.

“Well, it depends on what gap you’re talking about,” Stoops said in May 2013. “What are the bottom six doing? … They’ve had the best team in college football. They haven’t had the whole conference. Because, again, half of ’em haven’t done much at all.”

Since those remarks Stoops and the Sooners are 3-0 against SEC teams, beating Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl and Tennessee in back-to-back seasons.

No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2, 9-0 Big XII) has a chance to extend that streak against No. 14 Auburn in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

Yet in a year when Stoops would be more than justified in criticizing the SEC for being comparatively top-heavy, he claims not to have “any thoughts” about the conference.

“I think every league is good,” Stoops said. “Every league is pretty much the same: You got your top teams that are all very good, you got middle of the road teams that are really good and then you got your bottom of leagues that are all kind if fighting to get really good. I think it’s pretty much the same across the board; I’ve said that for a long time.

“I’ve got great respect for all the teams in the SEC as well as the Big 12, the Big Ten, on and on. Got great respect for Auburn coming into this game.”

How Auburn compare to Oklahoma statistically heading into Sugar Bowl

There’s a tinge of revisionist history from Stoops, whoranked Auburn (8-4, 5-3 SEC) behind Florida in his final coaches poll ballot. His top 15 was composed of four teams from the Big Ten, three each from the Big XII, Pac-12 and ACC and undefeated MAC champion Western Michigan, which is also not unlike the overall consensus nationally.

While Stoops has another chance to defeat an SEC team, Auburn has a chance to knock off a Power 5 conference champion that went undefeated in its league.

“We’re familiar with Oklahoma from the standpoint of traditionally being one of the best programs in all of college football,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “(Oklahoma) obviously played in the four-team playoff last year. This year, we’ve got a chance to watch them a little bit on TV. (Saturday), I got a chance to watch the Oklahoma State game. Very impressed. You’re talking about a big-time offense to go with a very good defense. We have a lot of respect for them.”

Auburn’s Sugar Bowl appearances

‘A special honor’ – Carnell Williams, Takeo Spikes to join Alabama Sports Hall of Fame – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

247Sports
'A special honor' – Carnell Williams, Takeo Spikes to join Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
The legendary former Auburn linebacker was struggling to meet a deadline to finish the landing page for his book's website. “Maybe 10 seconds later I saw a call from the Birmingham area code,” Spikes said. “I picked it up, and the guys told me …
3 Auburn greats part of 2017 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame class247Sports

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Cornerback Malcolm Askew eager to join Auburn for bowl practices

The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder played quarterback for McAdory this fall and is transitioning to becoming a cornerback on Auburn's roster.

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This week, Malcolm Askew is practicing for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in Montgomery.

By the end of the month, he’ll be helping Auburn prepare for Oklahoma in the 2017 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The Auburn commit is graduating from McAdory early and is expected to be enrolled on the Plains Jan. 8. Before then, he’s eager to join the Tigers for bowl practices, even thoughhe won’t be eligible to play against the Sooners.

“It’s exciting, because I get to go down and participate in that,” Askew told AL.com Monday during check-in for the All-Star Game. “It will be a great experience to get down there really. Being done with high school, it feels unreal, but I’m just ready to get to Auburn and get in there and complete and try to play early.”

“As soon as I get there they want me to come in and play the Star position where Rudy Ford plays.”

Askew is ranked as a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 9 athlete in the 247Sports Composite. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounderplayed quarterback for McAdory this fall and is transitioning to becoming a cornerback on Auburn’s roster.

Askew focused on new position at Auburn

Auburn’s secondary will be tested in Sugar Bowl as it goes up against a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Oklahoma Baker Mayfield and receiver Dede Westbrook.

“They have a great receiver over there so I want to see how we match up,” Askew said. “I’m glad we’re in the Sugar Bowl. It’s a New Year’s (Six) bowl and a lot of people didn’t expect us to be in the that we’re in. I’m just glad for Auburn.”

Askew committed to Auburn’s 2017 recruiting class in June. He said a couple schools made a push for him toward the end of his recruitment, but were unsuccessful.

“I’m solid to Auburn and I’m just ready to get there,” he said. “I was planning on taking some more visits, but I only ended up going to Cal and Auburn for my officials. The way recruiting works, I just kind of laid off communication and never really talked to the schools again.”

Askew will be playing defensive back for Alabama, which faces Mississippi for the 30th All-Star Game on Saturday.

“We get to play with Mississippi, they have some great guys,” he said. “It’s just a great time to come here and compete and enjoy the basically the last high school experience. It’s a great opportunity and I’m blessed to be here.”

Stay tuned to AL.com for more recruiting coverage of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and watch Askew in the 5-Star Super Show in the video at the top of this page.

Gallery preview

Cornerback Malcolm Askew eager to join Auburn for bowl practices

The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder played quarterback for McAdory this fall and is transitioning to becoming a cornerback on Auburn’s roster.

Four-star safety C.J. Avery aware of Wesley McGriff coaching rumors, likes Auburn regardless

The four-star safety out of Mississippi will choose between Auburn, Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State next week.

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C.J. Avery has heard the rumors floating around in the ether. The four-star safety out of Grenada, Mississippi, is trying not to let them affect his recruitment with one week remaining before he announces his commitment on Dec. 14.

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound safety — who will decide between Auburn, Ole Miss, Louisville and Mississippi State next week — said he is cognizant of the rumors regarding Auburn defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff, whose name has beenlinked to the defensive coordinator opening at Ole Miss, according to reports.

“There’s rumors I’ve heard that he could be the new DC at Ole Miss, but we’ll see how that shakes out,” Avery said this week while in Montgomery for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

McGriff is Avery’s primary recruiter at Auburn, and the two have a longstanding relationship. McGriff coached Avery’s father at Kentucky State.

“We’re actually pretty close, man — one of the closest people I’m with in recruitment right now,” Avery said.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Sunday during the Sugar Bowl teleconference that no schools had contacted him about speaking to McGriff regarding potential job openings — at least not yet. While that could change in the weeks leading up to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, Avery said he’s unsure if McGriff’s potential departure would affect his decision-making process.

“I really don’t know,” Avery said. “I like Auburn as a program, so I wouldn’t say it would affect me.”

Gus Malzahn hasn’t heard from any teams interested in Auburn secondary coach Wesley McGriff

The talented defensive back, who is rated as the No. 19 safety in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, received an in-home visit from McGriff and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Nov. 27. He also received visits last week from Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.

While Avery told reporters Monday that Auburn and Louisville really stand out to him, on Tuesday he backtracked and said that all four schools are on even footing heading into next week’s decision. Right now, he’s just focused on getting through the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game this Saturday before taking a final visit to Ole Miss this weekend.

After that, he will go over his final decision with his parents early next week leading up to Wednesday’s announcement.

Avery last traveled to Auburn on an official visit for the LSU game on Sept. 24. He described the atmosphere as “unbelievable” and enjoyed the chance to bond with current players.

Auburn’s coaching staff likes Avery, who is also an Under Armour All-American, at boundary safety. According to Avery, Auburn’s coaches see him “flourishing” at that position in Kevin Steele’s defense if he were to choose Auburn.

“They see me coming in and playing a vital role in the program, kind of the role Tray Matthews plays,” Avery said. “Coach McGriff, he of course wants me to be there, and Coach Malzahn shows a lot of love to me.”

Avery’s final decision, however, will come down to one critical factor next week — and it won’t be dependent on which coach may or may not end up where.

“Just the development of the program, man, who can develop me the best to get to the NFL,” Avery said. “That’s my ultimate goal.”

Four-star safety C.J. Avery aware of Wesley McGriff coaching rumors, likes Auburn regardless

The four-star safety out of Mississippi will choose between Auburn, Louisville, Ole Miss and Mississippi State next week.

Former Auburn, Dallas Cowboys standout Dave Edwards dead at age 76

The linebacker was an All-State player for Abbeville, an All-SEC player for Auburn and a fixture for the Dallas Cowboys’ Doomsday Defense.

Former Auburn, Dallas Cowboys standout Dave Edwards dead at age 76

The linebacker was an All-State player for Abbeville, an All-SEC player for Auburn and a fixture for the Dallas Cowboys' Doomsday Defense.

Former Auburn and Dallas Cowboys standout Dave Edwards has died at the age of 76.

Tim Edwards told The Associated Press that his brother died in his sleep on Monday night at his home in Texas. Tim Edwards said his brother had been scheduled to have heart surgery this week.

Edwards was a fixture at outside linebacker on the Doomsday Defense of the Dallas Cowboys. Edwards spent his entire NFL career, from 1963 through 1975, with the Cowboys. In his final 11 seasons, he played in every game but one, and started the other 153. In all, Edwards played in 181 regular-season and 18 playoff games with Dallas.

Edwards played in three of the first 10 Super Bowls – the Cowboys’ 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V on Jan. 11, 1970; the Cowboys’ 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI on Jan. 16, 1972; and the Cowboys’ 21-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X on Jan. 18, 1976. Super Bowl X was Edwards’ final NFL game.

Edwards joined Dallas as an undrafted rookie, even though he’d been picked in the 25th round of the 1962 AFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.

Signed Dave away from Broncos w/ $1k bonus. Started 135 games for us. Never got recognition he deserved. Accomplished painter. Great friend. https://t.co/hgrF8ViW9F

— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) December 7, 2016

Edwards was an All-State tackle for Abbeville High School in 1957, when the Yellow Jackets posted a 9-1 record and outscored their opponents 281-19.

Edwards was a two-way performer at end at Auburn and was a first-team All-SEC selection in 1961. In his three varsity seasons, the Tigers posted a record of 20-9-1.

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

Edwards was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 1988.

Find out where the salaries of Kevin Steele and Auburn’s assistant coaches rank

USA Today released its annual database of assistant coaches salaries on Wednesday.

Find out where the salaries of Kevin Steele and Auburn’s assistant coaches rank

USA Today released its annual database of assistant coaches salaries on Wednesday.

Auburn paid big money to lure Kevin Steele away from LSU in the offseason as the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator. In offering Steele a contract worth $1.1 million annually, Auburn made Steele the 10th-highest paid assistant coach in college football this year, according to USA Today’s annual assistant coaches salary database.

Steele is one of 12 assistant coaches nationally earning at least $1 million in salary, with eight of them residing in the SEC.

Auburn’s staff of assistants overall ranks seventh in the SEC in total compensation, with the school setting aside $4,456,250 this year to pay its nine assistants on coach Gus Malzahn’s staff. The six SEC schools paying assistants more than Auburn are LSU (which ranks first nationally at $5,781,500), Alabama (third; $5,320,000), Texas A&M (fourth; $4,811,000), Georgia (fifth; $4,675,000), Tennessee (ninth; $4,545,700) and Florida (10th; $4,530, 709).

Auburn ranks 11th nationally in total compensation for its assistant coaches. Only four non-SEC programs pay their coaching staffs more: Clemson (second; $5,390,417), Florida State (sixth; $4,586,000), Ohio State (seventh; $4,583,100) and Texas (eighth; $4,546,250).

Here’s a look at the salaries of Auburn’s assistant coaches and where they rank among their coaching peers:

Name; Title; Salary; Rank

— Kevin Steele; defensive coordinator; $1.1 million; 10th

— Rhett Lashlee; offensive coordinator; $601,500; 54th

— Rodney Garner; defensive line; $601,500; 55th

— Wesley McGriff; defensive backs; $500,000; 106th

— Herb Hand; offensive line; $420,000; 166th

— Kodi Burns; wide receivers; $350,000; 231st

— Tim Horton; running backs; $327,700; 266th

— Scott Fountain; tight ends/special teams; $326,800; 267th

— Travis Williams; linebackers; $225,000; 423rd

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