From the Other Sideline – Ole Miss

beach_crop_150x150Acey Roberts (@Aceyrob) is an Ole Miss engineering grad, the host of Hotty Toddy Hotline radio show, and writer for Rebel Nation MagazineAcey loves BBQ and female fitness instructors, hates commas and LSU. Acey is making his fifth appearance on the ‘Blogle.1. What is an Ole Miss fan’s first thought of Auburn football right now?

In a word “confused.” Auburn seems to be unsure of who they are right now. I expected Auburn to have a really strong defense this year, especially in defending the run but several teams, including a very one-dimensional Mississippi State, ran the ball right over Auburn (almost 400 yards). Then Tennessee of all teams, racked up almost 400 in the air, so I am really not sure what to expect Saturday.

2. What’s the vibe like in Oxford right now?

Ole Miss fans have been beat down recently, not just by opposing teams but with the long NCAA investigation saga, the coaching change, and key player transfers have left this fan base pretty apathetic. Even as favorite son Matt Luke takes over the program, some feel like he is not the right person for the program right now. But winning will cure all ills, as the saying goes.

The last two minutes of the Arkansas game seemed to flip a switch for the fan base. If you were following social media, the Ole Miss-Arkansas game devolved into a three hour discussion on how soon we fire Matt Luke. After the 4th quarter victory, fans are fully expecting to win out (sarcasm…. sort of).

3. How is Ole Miss 5-2? Is that right?

Ole Miss has a very potent offense and has the capability to outscore teams. As bad as OM has been on defense, the offense is very balanced and has many weapons. If the defense can just be mediocre, they will win some more games.

4. Name two off-the-radar Rebels that Auburns should keep their eye on.

With DK Metcalf out for the rest of the season with a neck injury, Ole Miss QB Jordan Taamu will get deeper in his rotation of wide outs. Guys like Braylon Sanders and Elijah Moore don’t get the spotlight like AJ Brown but they can be a mismatch in one-on-one coverage, especially when teams double cover AJ Brown.

Also, the tight ends are seeing more receptions. Dawson Knox and Octavious Cooley both had good production against Arkansas.

5. Name the two Auburn Tigers that scare you the most.

Even though he has been struggling at times, you have to beware of Jarrett Stidham. Ole Miss has a tendency to make quarterbacks look like all-pros this year, so if he doesn’t turn the ball over he should have a good game.

The other concern for me is Gus Malzhan’s offensive scheme. He has a very complex offense that can really tax your defenders mentally. As young as Ole Miss is in spots, they will make some mistakes against Malzhan’s offense. How much that happens will be a key point in the outcome of the game.

6. What is wrong with Auburn’s offense and what is wrong with Ole Miss’s defense?

I think in both cases, it is youth and leadership. For Auburn, you don’t have that standout running back or wide receiver that will take over a game. I have seen news articles about Auburn’s offensive line issues and that certainly can affect the entire team, but at some point someone has to take responsibility for the team and get that first down or score when no one else will. F

For Ole Miss, there are so many young guys that have just not adjusted to the speed and complexity of the SEC. They are guessing on coverages and double teaming the wrong people, ect. At times, this defense has looked absolutely comical, but recently they have started to improve on third down and in the red zone. The path forward is the same for these two teams, everyone is standing around looking for the leader. Eventually someone will fill that role and the team will take that next step forward.

7. Which matchup will win the game?

I expect it will come down to being able to run the ball, as usual. This is an Ole Miss team that can run the ball much better than in previous years. With a very experienced offensive line and a great JUCO transfer running back in Scotty Phillips, Ole Miss will try to hit some long runs after spreading your secondary out with sideline passes. I still think Auburn has a great defensive line, so who ever wins the matchup between Ole Miss’s offensive line and Auburn’s D-line will go a long way to deciding the final score.

8. What’s your score prediction/analysis of this game?

A week ago, I would not have given Ole Miss any chance to be competitive in this game. But the early maelstrom of playing Alabama and LSU has strengthened this team I believe. They rebounded the right way against La-Monroe and Arkansas. They didn’t give up or get down emotionally. They just keep playing and I think there is a little momentum building for Ole Miss right now. You find yourself pulling for them like an SEC version of the Bad News Bears. Auburn has a better and deeper bench but with the frustration of this season so far and an 11 am trip to Oxford, Ole Miss could sneak up and get on top of Auburn early.

If Ole Miss’s defensive coordinator Phil Longo will stop calling for a Hail Mary every third play, Ole Miss could win this game. If Auburn protects the ball and has a good day on the ground, Auburn could start to rebound. I will say Ole Miss 27-24 based solely on my unrealistic hopes and dreams.

9. Where will Auburn and Ole Miss end up this season?

Looking at the schedule, this Auburn-Ole Miss matchup is a huge game. After Ole Miss, Auburn only has one for-sure win left with Liberty University. Texas A&M has questions so that could be a coin flip. You certainly could beat Georgia, but its hard to pick Auburn right now. So, realistically it is possible the loser of this game finishes around 5-6 wins. The winner is probably only a 7-win team.

10. What is your favorite Ole Miss mascot and why?

I am a little older, so i will always have a soft spot for Colonel Reb, but at the same time I can understand why the school needs to move ahead and find a more inclusive mascot. The best option in my opinion is to re-design the Colonel as a soldier or a patriot or some human character, and my underdog choice would be to just go with William Faulkner. Put a drink in his hand and just be done with it.

Watch: Jeremy Pruitt calls out Auburn’s plays from the sideline – Rocky Top Talk


Rocky Top Talk

Watch: Jeremy Pruitt calls out Auburn's plays from the sideline
Rocky Top Talk
With the schedule easing up after this week, it's exciting to think about how much this group can develop down the stretch. If nothing else, Tennessee has a legitimate football coach steering the ship. It's been quite a while since we've been able to
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Auburn Tigers vs. Ole Miss Rebels Odds, Analysis, College Football Betting Pick – Bleacher Report


Bleacher Report

Auburn Tigers vs. Ole Miss Rebels Odds, Analysis, College Football Betting Pick
Bleacher Report
Auburn owns the edge in the recent rivalry with Ole Miss, winning seven of the last nine meetings straight up and going 7-1-1 against the spread along the way. The Tigers will shoot for more of the same when they meet up with the Rebels for an SEC West …
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Bowl projections: Where Auburn stands after losing to Tennessee – 247Sports


247Sports

Bowl projections: Where Auburn stands after losing to Tennessee
247Sports
… now and the end of the regular season, but we've watched Auburn go from a New Year's Six contender to a mid-tier bowl in only a matter of weeks. Let's take a look at the latest projections heading into the seventh week of the college football season.

Gus Malzahn ‘not ready to say’ if Auburn will make changes on offensive line vs. Ole Miss

Gus Malzahn alluded to “some tweaks” on offense for Auburn but was tight-lipped when discussing offensive line personnel.

Gus Malzahn ‘not ready to say’ if Auburn will make changes on offensive line vs. Ole Miss

Gus Malzahn alluded to "some tweaks" on offense for Auburn but was tight-lipped when discussing offensive line personnel.

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Gus Malzahn has never been one to making sweeping changes along the offensive line midseason, but Auburn’s sixth-year coach hinted at some possible moves in the trenches ahead of Saturday’s game at Ole Miss.

Malzahn alluded to “some tweaks” on offense this week, and while he addressed some specifics at running and receiver, those alterations that won’t include a change at quarterback — where Jarrett Stidham will remain the starter. Of note, though, was that Malzahn didn’t rule out any changes along the Tigers’ struggling offensive line when he asked about the progress of some of the team’s younger linemen.

“There’s some competition that’s building,” Malzahn said. “I will say that. I’m not ready to say anything more than that, but there is some competition that’s building and some guys that are improving.”

Auburn’s offensive line has been the most glaring issue for an offense that continues to approach new lows in the Malzahn era. The starting unit — which includes left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho Jr., left guard Marquel Harrell, center Nick Brahms, right guard Mike Horton and right tackle Jack Driscoll — has struggled to get a consistent push off the ball, which has resulted in a rudderless rushing attack that averages just 113.33 yards per game against FBS competition.

Statistically speaking: Auburn’s rushing offense continues to fall short

The unit has also allowed 36 negative plays, including 15 sacks — a number that ranks 80th among FBS teams this season — while putting Stidham under duress often.

The only tweaks up front to this point this season have been a change at center, where Brahms took over for Kaleb Kim after three games, and right tackle, where Calvin Ashley made a spot start in place of an injured Driscoll against Mississippi State. Ashley is dealing with an undisclosed medical issue, and Auburn is hopeful he’ll return in the “near future,” so Driscoll’s job status should be safe.

Since Brahms took over at center, however, the overall play of the line has not improved in recent week. Brahms has had some issues with snaps at times, and the offensive line has allowed a combined 12 sacks after permitting just three in the first three games with Kim in the middle. Reinserting Kim at center is one possible change Malzahn could make this week at Ole Miss, which Auburn plays Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN in Oxford, Miss.

Another potential change could come at right guard, where Horton’s struggles could lead to an opportunity for redshirt freshman Austin Troxell, who has worked at both right guard and right tackle while also spending time as the extra lineman in Auburn’s heavy packages. Troxell is a former four-star prospect who redshirted last season while recovering from a knee injury.

Though Malzahn did not address which specific changes he may make along the offensive line this week, he shot down one possibility: switching out all five starters in place of the second-team unit — something he said he has never done in his career as head coach.

“We’re not ready to do that now,” Malzahn said. “There was some areas that we improved in Saturday up front (against Tennessee), specifically running the football between the tackles. We got to keep building upon that, and we will.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Chicago Bears coach has ‘ultimate trust’ in Cody Parkey despite costly miss

Former Auburn standout Cody Parkey 'on to the next game' after missing what would have been a game-winning field goal against the Miami Dolphins.

Place-kicker Cody Parkey could have won Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins for the Chicago Bears. But he didn’t.

The former Auburn standout’s 53-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right in overtime, leaving the door open for Miami’s Jason Sanders to hit a 47-yard field goal on the last snap of the game to give the Dolphins a 31-28 victory.

But it’s said kickers and cornerbacks need to have short memories, and Parkey’s looking ahead to Sunday’s contest against the New England Patriots.

“I hate missing,” Parkey said. “Unfortunately I missed, and it’s on to the next game.”

While misses already have cost NFL kickers, including another former Auburn standout, Daniel Carlson, their jobs this season, the criticism of Parkey in Chicago has been muted by the spotlight put on coach Matt Nagy for settling for a 53-yard attempt — 1 yard short of Parkey’s career best.

The Bears’ only overtime possession started at Miami’s 20-yard line with a 5-yard completion by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He didn’t pass again in the game.

Running back Jordan Howard, a former Gardendale High School and UAB standout, ripped off consecutive carries of 19 and 15 yards to give Chicago a first down at the Miami 41-yard line.

From there, Tarik Cohen ran up the middle for 2 yards, Bennie Cunningham ran off right guard for 4 yards and Howard hit right guard for no gain, leaving the ball at the Dolphins’ 35.

After the game, Nagy was asked why he hadn’t given Trubisky an opportunity to get Parkey a little closer.

“We could do that all day long,” Nagy said about the question. “You go ahead, you throw it and then you’re up here asking me why you took a sack. You can go all day with that kind of stuff.”

On Monday, Nagy was more reflective when asked about his conservative play-calling.

“I think it’s a good question,” Nagy said. “To me, that 35-yard line — a 53-yard field goal — I have ultimate trust in him making that. But at the same time, every yard that you get brings the percentage up a little bit. We just hit a (19)-yard run. We just hit a 15-yard run, and then we had a couple of more runs (after) that. That’s just a decision we ended up making.

“Now he makes that kick, and we’re good. He doesn’t, and it’s ‘Could you get a little bit closer?’ It would have helped. But at the same time, I think Cody would be the first to tell you that he knows he can make that.”

The kick gave Parkey the opportunity to beat his team of the 2017 season. Parkey played for Miami last season, but left in free agency for a four-year, $15 million contract offer from the Bears.

Before Sunday’s miss, Parkey had made 9-of-10 field-goal attempts this season. On attempts from 50 yards and longer, Parkey had made 7-of-8 in his NFL career.

“I had the distance,” Parkey said. “I just didn’t kick it straight enough — bottom line. But you’ve got to move on. I’ve made game-winners; I’ve missed game-winners. As long as I keep playing, I’m just going to keep trying to kick my best.”

Parkey had no business even getting the chance to beat the Dolphins.

Miami came within inches of winning the game on its first overtime possession. But the football slipped away from former Alabama standout Kenyan Drake as he tumbled into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge, and Chicago recovered the fumble to keep the game going.

The Bears also messed up a couple of prime scoring opportunities. Howard lost a fumble a yard from the end zone in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, tight end Trey Burton got an offensive pass interference penalty with Chicago at the Miami 3, and Trubiksy threw an interception on the next snap.

None of that mattered to Parkey.

“At the end of the day, I control what I can control, and, unfortunately, I missed a field goal,” Parkey said. “I’d like to have that one back, but it is what it is, and I’m just going to focus on the next game. That’s all I can do.”

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Chicago Bears coach has ‘ultimate trust’ in Cody Parkey despite costly miss

Former Auburn standout Cody Parkey ‘on to the next game’ after missing what would have been a game-winning field goal against the Miami Dolphins.

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Tiger-Eye Review—Redeeming Time Edition

I’ll so offend, to make offence a skill, redeeming time when men think least I will.

Prince Hal- Henry IV Part 1  by William Shakespeare

Offense *is* a skill. One that all but a very few SEC teams are just beginning to realize. Defense is a skill too, and the evidence that we’re gleaning from this week’s games is that prodigious offensive output week after week in the early season is not a sure recipe for success against teams who can successfully defend against your strengths.

The difference in the LSU–Georgia game was the bottling up of the Dawg’s run game. Jake Fromm’s exceptional 70% completion rate dropped to just 47% once he was forced to throw more than 25 times in a game under pressure. On the flip side of that equation, Auburn’s loss to Tennessee was due primarily to the Volunteer line protecting Jarrett Guarantano just long enough for his receivers to complete their routes on the outside, burning Auburn on nearly every 3rd and long situation. Auburn’s offensive line could not do the same for Jarrett Stidham.

Additionally, some other teams are showing surprising missteps on offense. Four of Alabama’s nine scoring drives against a rather mediocre Missouri defense resulted in field goal attempts. That’s not a misprint. Two of those were gifted short-field turnovers. A third was from a safety scored by the defense. Texas A&M’s excellent early season running game has a tendency to evaporate against good defensive lines. Luckily, Kellen Mond has proven more than successful in getting them out in front of their conference opponents.

But those gaudy early numbers on offense are getting fewer and further between now that the conference defenses have begun to make their mark. Which gives rise to one of the age-old adages of “defense wins championships” or as a wise head coach once opined in a halftime speech: “Guys, if they can’t score, they can’t win.”

Can a season of frustration be redeemed by solid defensive play? Can a successful run of incredible scoring suddenly be challenged by a brick wall and some lucky breaks? In my humble opinion based upon the numbers I’m seeing, I think we’re about to find out.

The tale of two seasons – a last minute defensive pass interference call on 3rd and 11

SEC West Offense

The most remarkable thing I see this week is the wide disparity between the praise being heaped upon Ed Orgeron, the LSU offense, and quarterback Joe Burrow, and what is being dished out in the press about Gus Malzahn, Auburn and Jarrett Stidham. You would think there would be clear distinctions between the two teams—one sitting at 6–1, ranked in the top ten nationally with a clear shot at the division and conference championships and a bid for the playoff, and the other at a disappointing 43 and already being referred to as a “hot seat” disgrace.

But that just isn’t the case. When you look at the numbers, the teams are almost identical in offensive production, and Jarrett Stidham has even played marginally better than Joe Burrow in the last seven games.

Likewise the offensive numbers for the two Mississippi teams would seem to belie the fact that they both have two conference losses and are virtually out of the race for the division. With the exception of scoring, they compare quite well with the conference-leading Alabama team in all other respects of offensive efficiency. And highly ranked Texas A&M? Rather pedestrian in nearly every quality. Whatever its success, it isn’t really reflected in the offensive numbers.

SEC West Defense

Again, the nearly mirrored LSU and Auburn numbers are astonishing, considering the diametrically different slants taken by popular media. Additionally, Alabama is showing some small cracks defensively, and Mississippi and TAMU are showing some rather big ones. And, there stands Mississippi State, arguably the stoutest defense in the Southeastern Conference. With a visit to Baton Rouge this week and a visiting Aggie team the next week, we’ll see how State performs against the rest of the division. By the time November comes around, you might see some interesting possibilities in the division race.

SEC East Offense

Georgia and Florida, with surprisingly equal numbers, are both followed offensively by everyone,  especially on yards per play. The lines between the top and bottom teams in the East is blurring quite a bit on that side of the ball. Now that the division games have begun, it will be interesting how the teams adjust in the following weeks with suddenly open play for the division title. With some surprising upsets of Western teams, the dynamics of the conference are now changing rapidly.

These next couple of weeks are going to be interesting.

SEC East Defense

Saturday’s loss shows as a huge drop off for Georgia’s numbers, the greatest difference in efficiency this week. LSU hit the gas at just the right time and left the dawgs bruised and bleeding badly. With Florida rising and Georgia falling, the end-of-the-month game in Jacksonville looms very large. I said that the East was Georgia’s to lose, and it looks like it just might do exactly that. Kentucky has taken a hit with the loss to Texas A&M, but that hurts much less now that Georgia showed itself to be vulnerable to a good defense.

State of the Conference

This last weekend should illustrate a key truth in the Southeastern Conference: There are no sure things. The expected results for any team are never as dark nor as rosy as they appear based upon early games. Something always happens to upset the expected path of the conference, and this year is no exception.

The best two teams in the conference by the numbers? A universally ranked number-one undefeated team and a two-loss team that is only ranked in the lower twenties on one national poll. In between are five other SEC teams who at best could be deemed marginal candidates for winning their respective divisions. The top scoring defense and the second best scoring offense in the conference belong to two teams that are UNranked in the Coaches Poll. Not to mention, a top-five ranked team and the rags-to-riches success story of the SEC West is actually in the bottom half of the conference in BOTH offense and defensive production statistics.

Expectations are a tricky thing. Sports media tends to have a very short memory about games and events that occur in the season. A close win over a marginal team, an errant flag here or there, a key fumble or interception, or a poor weekly performance against a nonpower 5 out-of conference team is swept under the rug all too soon.

How close are Auburn’s and LSU’s seasons at this point in time? About one inch away from each other. If an Auburn defensive back’s hand was just one inch off the jersey of a LSU receiver, he likely wouldn’t have been called for pass interference on a third-and-long play in the last minute of the game on September 15th. That play extended LSU’s final drive to allow for a last-second field goal to win the game.

Were it not for that one inch, Auburn and LSU would each have one division loss, one cross conference loss and would be almost dead equal in all respects statistically on offense and defense, with W-L records of 5–2.

I…dentical!

The post Tiger-Eye Review—Redeeming Time Edition appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Season: One Twenty Six – Episode Seven

The 7th episode of Season: One Twenty Six flips the cameras during the loss to Tennessee and shows us who has been running things.

Auburn basketball lands commitment from 4-star G out of Florida – Saturday Down South


Saturday Down South

Auburn basketball lands commitment from 4-star G out of Florida
Saturday Down South
The Auburn Tigers enter the 2018-19 basketball season with high expectations after winning a share of the SEC regular-season title last year. Bruce Pearl's program is getting national buzz now, and on Tuesday, the Tigers landed a big piece for their

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Auburn basketball lands commitment from 4-star G out of Florida – Saturday Down South


Saturday Down South

Auburn basketball lands commitment from 4-star G out of Florida
Saturday Down South
The Auburn Tigers enter the 2018-19 basketball season with high expectations after winning a share of the SEC regular-season title last year. Bruce Pearl's program is getting national buzz now, and on Tuesday, the Tigers landed a big piece for their

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TET College Pick’Em Results—WEEK 7

My, oh my, what has happened to our Auburn Tigers? Another disappointing loss came to our boys on the Plains, and right now this year’s season  is looking dismal. The Tigers will need some tough skin as many have lost confidence in their ability to end the season with a winning record. I, for one, still think they can pull themselves together and finish strong, but it will take some inner strength and determination not to let the outside distractions deter them. 

I’ve seen some pretty nasty hate in comments across the web in regards to the team. Message boards are for venting and rightfully so, but there is no place for hateful comments against college kids who are simply playing a game (and remember that’s all it is) for their college and putting in the work, whether we like the outcome or not. So keep it civil and mature out there! 

KJNolan4 is our new leader for the week with NY War Eagle falling to second and War Eagle son rounding out the top three. Below are the standings of the top 25.

Standings

Rank Pick Set Name Total Dropped W-L
1 KJNolan4 75 15 75-47
2 NY War Eagle 73 18 73-49
3 War Eagle son 72 22 72-51
4 Kbrow31 72 10 72-50
5 Awbee75 71 21 71-49
6 WDE 1977 71 19 71-49
7 Blade 71 16 71-51
8 HELLCAT83 70 21 70-52
9 catskid 69 20 69-55
10 sullivan013 69 19 69-53
11 Jando323 69 23 69-51
12 LaxTiger 68 15 68-54
13 DawgFan 68 15 68-54
14 Oracle 67 24 67-56
15 WarEagle32789 67 16 67-55
16 SandMountainTiger 67 13 67-55
17 Landonturner91 67 15 67-55
18 24-Hour Jon-a-thon 66 16 66-56
19 Hambino 66 20 66-55
20 SCTigers 66 17 66-56
21 anorum183 66 16 66-56
22 AubieGirl1985 66 7 66-56
23 Greyfox 65 9 65-57
24 FlyingTiger92 65 20 65-55
25 Brianyork 65 17 65-57

The post TET College Pick’Em Results—WEEK 7 appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Tennessee football: New possible outcomes for Vols season after Auburn win – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee football: New possible outcomes for Vols season after Auburn win
All For Tennessee
By defeating the Auburn Tigers on the road, Tennessee football has many new possibilities for outcomes in 2018. Here is how the Volunteers could finish. Coming off a 4-8 season, Tennessee football entered 2018 with only three circled victories: the
Maxwell Award Player Of The Week, Week 7: Jarrett GuarantanoCampus Sports



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Marcello “not ruling out” coaching change at Auburn – 247Sports


247Sports

Marcello "not ruling out" coaching change at Auburn
247Sports
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Gameday Tweets: Tennessee 30, Auburn 24

WarBlogle_twitter_newIt was hot. My phone said it was 74 degrees, but without a cloud in the sky and the noontime sun blasting you in the face, it was hot. Hotter than LSU. The sun is a powerful thing. You can tell how worried I am about a game by the amount of tweets I fire off during pregame. You can tell how the game went by how many tweets I tweet after halftime. These gameday tweets were a perfect example of those two things. Follow me.

 

SEC Football by the Numbers: Top 10 from Week 7

Ten numbers about the seventh Saturday of the SEC’s 2018 football season.

SEC Football by the Numbers: Top 10 from Week 7

Ten numbers about the seventh Saturday of the SEC's 2018 football season.

On the seventh Saturday of the SEC’s 2018 season, Tennessee defeated Auburn 30-24, Florida defeated Vanderbilt 37-27, LSU defeated Georgia 36-16, Texas A&M defeated South Carolina 26-23, Alabama defeated Missouri 39-10 and Ole Miss defeated Arkansas 37-33 in league games. Here are 10 numbers about the SEC’s seventh-week games:

2 Road games have been won by Florida after the Gators fell behind by 18 points, including Saturday’s 37-27 victory over Vanderbilt. Trailing 21-3 in the second quarter, Florida scored the next 24 points as the Gators equaled the biggest road rally in school history. Florida also overcame an 18-point deficit to win in a road game on Sept. 27, 2003, when the Gators posted a 24-21 victory at Kentucky after falling behind 21-3. Florida lost the 26 games between that Kentucky contest and Saturday’s victory in which it trailed by at least 18 points on the road. The Commodores’ 21-3 advantage on Saturday was Vanderbilt’s first three-possession lead against a ranked team since it upset No. 6 South Carolina 17-6 on Oct. 20, 2007.

3 Quarterbacks have won the SEC Offensive Player of the Week Award in 2018 for their performances against Auburn, including the past two recipients of the honor. In Tennessee’s 30-24 victory over Auburn on Saturday, Volunteers QB Jarrett Guarantano completed 21-of-32 passes for 328 yards (86 more than his previous career high) with two TDs and no interceptions. In Mississippi State’s 23-9 victory over Auburn on Oct. 6, Bulldogs QB Nick Fitzgerald completed 9-of-17 passes for 69 yards with no TDs and one interception and ran 28 times for 195 yards and two TDs. In LSU’s 22-21 victory over Auburn on Sept. 15, Tigers QB Joe Burrow completed 15-of-34 passes for 249 yards with one TD and no interceptions and ran 10 times for 22 yards. The SEC presents awards for Offensive, Defensive, Special Teams, Offensive Lineman, Defensive Lineman and Freshman of the Week. The other teams that have produced more than one award for their opponents in a single category have been Arkansas, which has had two Special Teams Player of the Week performances against it, and Auburn again, which has had two Defensive Lineman of the Week performances against it.

3 Consecutive Alabama games have featured two 100-yard receivers after the Crimson Tide had five such games in its previous football history. In Saturday’s 39-10 victory over Missouri, Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy caught three passes for 147 yards and one TD and WR DeVonta Smith caught four passes for 100 yards and one TD. In a 65-31 victory over Arkansas on Oct. 6, Jeudy caught four passes for 135 yards and two TDs and TE Irv Smith Jr caught two passes for 123 yards and one TD. In a 56-14 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 29, WR Henry Ruggs III caught five passes for 116 yards and two TDs and WR Jaylen Waddle caught three passes for 138 yards and two TDs. Alabama had two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time in the 1969 Iron Bowl, when David Bailey and Bubba Sawyer did it against Auburn. It also was accomplished by Jason McAddley and Freddie Milons against Arkansas in 1999, Milons and Antonio Carter against UCLA in 2001, Tyrone Prothro and DJ Hall against Southern Miss in 2005 and DeAndrew White and Amari Cooper against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl after the 2013 season.

4 Fourth-down snaps were converted into first downs by LSU in its 36-16 victory over Georgia on Saturday. The Bulldogs had allowed three successful conversions on 11 fourth-down attempts in 2018 entering the game, but the Tigers went 4-for-4. LSU QB Joe Burrow converted three fourth-and-1 snaps — scoring from the Georgia 1 as the Tigers took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, gaining 1 yard at the LSU 38 on a field-goal drive and gaining 2 yards at the Georgia 14 on another field-goal drive. In the same series that included Burrow’s second conversion, LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaise converted a fourth-and-1 at the Georgia 36 with a 16-yard run.

7 Consecutive games have featured a TD on Alabama’s first possession, with QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 81-yard pass to WR Jerry Jeudy on the second snap of the Crimson Tide’s 39-10 victory over Missouri on Saturday continuing the streak. Tagovailoa has thrown five TD passes, with three going to Jeudy, during the streak, and the Tide has had a touchdown lead before its opponent has gotten the ball in five of the games. The streak started when Tagovailoa threw an 11-yard TD pass to Jeudy on Alabama’s seventh snap in a 51-14 victory over Louisville on Sept. 1. On Sept. 8, Jeudy caught a 58-yard pass from Tagovailoa on the fifth snap of a 57-7 victory over Arkansas State. On Sept. 15, RB Damien Harris ran 43 yards for a TD on Alabama’s third offensive snap in a 62-7 victory over Ole Miss. On Sept. 22, DeVonta Smith caught a 30-yard pass from Tagovailoa on Alabama’s first offensive snap in a 45-23 victory over Texas A&M. On Sept. 29, Josh Jacobs ran 9 yards for a TD on the eighth snap of a 56-14 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. On Oct. 6, TE Irv Smith Jr. caught a 76-yard pass from Tagovailoa on the first snap of a 65-31 victory over Arkansas. Three of Alabama’s games this season have featured a TD on the opening snap. In addition to the two by the Crimson Tide, Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu threw a 75-yard TD pass to WR D.K. Metcalf on the first snap against Alabama.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE SEC, GO TO OUR SEC PAGE

8 Victories without a loss for LSU under coach Ed Orgeron in the game after a Tigers’ defeat. On Saturday, LSU upended Georgia 36-16 a week after the Tigers lost 27-19 to Florida. In his first game as LSU’s coach, Orgeron led the Tigers to a 42-7 victory over Missouri on Oct. 1, 2016, after LSU had lost to Auburn 18-13 in its final game under Les Miles. Later that season, LSU followed a 10-0 loss to Alabama with a 38-10 victory over Arkansas and a 16-10 loss to Florida with a 54-39 victory over Texas A&M. In 2017, the Tigers followed a 37-7 loss to Mississippi State with a 35-26 victory over Syracuse, a 24-21 loss to Troy with a 17-16 victory over Florida and a 24-10 loss to Alabama with a 33-10 victory over Arkansas. LSU concluded the 2017 season with a 21-17 loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl, then started the 2018 campaign with a 33-17 victory over Miami (Fla.).

11 Years to the day since its previous victory on an SEC West team’s home field, Tennessee won a game in the West again. The Volunteers defeated Auburn 30-24 at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday for their first victory on an SEC Western Division team’s home field since a 33-21 win over Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville on Oct. 13, 2007. Saturday’s victory ended Tennessee’s 13-game road losing streak against SEC West opponents (which doesn’t include the Volunteers’ loss to LSU in the 2007 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta). Tennessee’s win also was its first against an SEC West opponent since a 52-14 victory over Ole Miss on Nov. 13, 2010, ending a 15-game losing streak in interdivision games. The Volunteers also ended their 11-game conference losing streak — the longest in school history — with their first SEC win since at 63-37 victory over Missouri on Nov. 19, 2016.

18 Points were scored by LSU PK Cole Tracy in the Tigers’ 36-16 victory over Georgia on Saturday. Tracy set an LSU single-game record for kicking points by making his five field-goal attempts (from 33, 36, 39, 24 and 30 yards) and his three extra-point kicks. Tracy’s total is tied for the seventh-best for kicking points in a game in SEC history, and he tied the LSU record for most field goals in a game.

30 Consecutive possessions were recorded by Alabama without a punt between the Crimson Tide’s final series against Texas A&M on Sept. 22 and its first series of the second half against Missouri on Saturday. Alabama did not punt against Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas or in the first half of Saturday’s game. The Tide’s 30 puntless possessions included 18 touchdowns and four field goals. Four of the possessions ended when time ran out in the first half or a game, two concluded with missed field-goal attempts, one ended with a lost fumble and one ended when Alabama was stopped short on fourth down. When he finally got a chance to punt in the second half against Missouri, Alabama’s Skyler DeLong got off a 12-yarder.

528 Yards of total offense were accumulated by Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu in the Rebels’ 37-33 victory over Arkansas on Saturday. Ta’amu passed for 387 yards and ran for 141. Ta’amu’s total ranks No. 9 on the SEC’s all-time list and second in Ole Miss history, behind the 540 yards amassed by Archie Manning against Alabama in 1969. Ta’amu’s performance is the sixth-most in a conference game in SEC history. Of those six league games with the most individual yards of total offense, three have come against Arkansas and three have come against Alabama. In addition to Manning’s performance, the Crimson Tide gave up 562 yards to Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel in 2013 and 540 to LSU QB Rohan Davey in 2001. In addition to Ta’amu’s performance, Arkansas gave up 557 yards to Manziel in 2012 and 554 to Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott in 2015.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Auburn insider says ‘not much concern there’ about finding money for Gus Malzhan’s buyout – Saturday Down South


Saturday Down South

Auburn insider says 'not much concern there' about finding money for Gus Malzhan's buyout
Saturday Down South
The Auburn Tigers aren't known for being one of the programs with huge athletic budgets like Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma State or any other number of big-time schools. However, that doesn't mean the budget is tight on The …
Jarrett Stidham remains Auburn's starting quarterbackESPN


Auburn Won't Make This Switch Despite His Terrible Game Against TennesseeFanbuzz
Film review: How Tennessee beat a ranked SEC West opponentUT Daily Beacon
247Sports –FOXSports.com
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Auburn hopes Calvin Ashley returns from medical issue in ‘near future’

Calvin Ashley missed the Tennessee game with a "medically related issue."

Auburn is hopeful that Calvin Ashley’s absence is a short-term deal.

Ashley, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, was held out of last week’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee with what a team spokesman referred to as a “medically related issue.” On Tuesday, head coach Gus Malzahn addressed Ashley’s ailment, though he did not provide many details surrounding the 6-foot-6, 322-pounder.

“He’s dealing with a medical issue, and we’re hoping that he’ll be back in the near future,” Malzahn said. “The most important thing is his health.”

Ashley is a former five-star prospect who was the crown jewel of Auburn’s 2017 signing class. He redshirted last season before vying for the starting job at right tackle through the offseason, though it ultimately went to UMass graduate transfer Jack Driscoll.

Ashley made his first career start two weeks ago against Mississippi State, stepping in for an injured Driscoll during the Tigers’ 23-9 loss to the Bulldogs. Following the game, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said Ashley had an up-and-down performance during his first real game experience, doing well in run-blocking but struggling in pass protection as Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat racked up three sacks of Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Driscoll returned to the starting lineup last week, while Ashley was sidelined with the undisclosed medical issue.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Auburn hopes Calvin Ashley returns from medical issue in ‘near future’

Calvin Ashley missed the Tennessee game with a “medically related issue.”

Gus Malzahn gives Chip Lindsey vote of confidence, won’t take over playcalling

Gus Malzahn said Chip Lindsey has “done a solid job for the most part” this season.

Gus Malzahn gives Chip Lindsey vote of confidence, won’t take over playcalling

Gus Malzahn said Chip Lindsey has "done a solid job for the most part" this season.

Gus Malzahn doesn’t plan on getting more hands-on with Auburn’s struggling offense, and the Tigers’ sixth-year coach gave his offensive coordinator, Chip Lindsey, a vote of confidence Tuesday.

After taking a step back and reevaluating everything following Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee last weekend, Malzahn said he has no plans to take over play-calling duties from Lindsey heading into the final five games of the season. Auburn travels to Ole Miss on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.

“Chip’s going to call plays, and I think Chip’s done a solid job for the most part,” Malzahn said. “I’ve got confidence in him. I think for the most part, a lot of our plays have been good.”

Malzahn and Lindsey have maintained that Lindsey has had autonomy in playcalling since taking over as offensive coordinator prior to last season, when Malzahn said he was retiring his play-card.

Statistically speaking: Auburn offense continues to fall short

Auburn’s offense this season has been the worst of the Malzahn era, struggling in various statistical categories thanks largely to inconsistent play not just game to game, but often drive to drive.

Auburn’s rush offense ranks 12th in the SEC and 83rd nationally at 158.4 yards per game, though that number dips against FBS competition, when the Tigers average just 113.33 rushing yards, which ranks 113th nationally. Some of those struggles have been due to poor play from the offensive line, which has given up 36 negative plays this season while replacing four starters from last year’s group.

The Tigers’ passing offense has also taken a step back this season, with Jarrett Stidham struggling through seven games, though Malzahn said Tuesday that the redshirt junior will remain the starting quarterback heading into the Ole Miss game.

Stidham will remain Auburn starting quarterback

While the offense has trudged through the team’s 4-3 start to the season, which saw the Tigers go from a preseason top-10 team to unranked following the loss to the Vols, it has shown spurts of productivity and glimpses of what made the group so successful in 2017. However, Auburn’s third-down efficiency is 12th in the SEC and 95th in the country at 36.4 percent.

“We just hadn’t, for whatever reason, been able to execute, especially in certain situations,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got to do a better job in that.”

Malzahn was also asked if he felt that, seven games into a seven-year, $49 million contract extension, if he felt he was coaching for his job following Auburn’s underwhelming and underachieving start to the year.

“I feel like I’m coaching for my players for the next game,” Malzahn said. “We have to finish this thing the right way. I really expect us to do it. Are we disappointed? Yes, we’re disappointed, I’m disappointed and our players are disappointed, I know our fans are disappointed, but we have to get through this and we are going to get through it. The way you get through it is finish strong, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Jarrett Stidham remains Auburn’s starting quarterback – ESPN


ESPN

Jarrett Stidham remains Auburn's starting quarterback
ESPN
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn coach Gus Malzahn promised "tweaks" would be made following a loss to Tennessee on Saturday that dropped the Tigers out of the top 25, but he said that Jarrett Stidham would not be one of them as he remains the team's starting …
Auburn trying to halt skid from top 10 to being unrankedFOXSports.com


Does Gus Malzahn feel like he's coaching for his job?247Sports
SEC Reporter “Not Ruling Out” A Change In Head CoachThe Spun (blog)

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Tennessee football: Vols win over Auburn ended 15 losing streaks – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee football: Vols win over Auburn ended 15 losing streaks
All For Tennessee
As a program that has struggled at unprecedented levels over the past 10 years, beating the Auburn Tigers on Saturday was significant for Tennessee football. Dating back to the start of this century, the Vols have been on slides that they were not able
Film review: How Tennessee beat a ranked SEC West opponentUT Daily Beacon


Jeremy Pruitt breaks down AlabamaRocky Top Talk
Pruitt discusses Tennessee's injuries after Auburn game247Sports
atozsportsnashville.com –AP News –College Football – Associated Press –WNML
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3 questions Ole Miss needs to answer this Saturday in huge home game versus Auburn – Jackson Clarion Ledger


Jackson Clarion Ledger

3 questions Ole Miss needs to answer this Saturday in huge home game versus Auburn
Jackson Clarion Ledger
The Rebels (5-2, 1-2 SEC) host the Auburn Tigers, coming off back-to-back losses against Mississippi State and Tennessee. With a win … But Auburn? The Tigers have only allowed three rushing touchdowns all season, tied for the fewest in college football.
Injuries Starting To Pile Up For Rebels247Sports


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How to Watch and Listen – Auburn @ Ole MissCollege and Magnolia

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Gus Malzahn: Jarrett Stidham will remain Auburn starting quarterback

Gus Malzahn announced there would be “some tweaks” for Auburn against Ole Miss, but quarterback wouldn’t be one of them.

Gus Malzahn: Jarrett Stidham will remain Auburn starting quarterback

Gus Malzahn announced there would be "some tweaks" for Auburn against Ole Miss, but quarterback wouldn't be one of them.

Watch video

There won’t be a change at quarterback for Auburn against Ole Miss.

Coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday during his weekly press conference that Jarrett Stidham will remain the Tigers’ starting quarterback when the team travels to Oxford, Miss., this weekend to take on Ole Miss at 11 a.m. on ESPN.

“Jarrett Stidham will be our starting quarterback,” Malzahn said. “He needs to protect the football better; he understands that, but I do have confidence in him and I think he’ll lead us in the right way moving forward.”

Malzahn said there was no serious consideration to making a change at quarterback following the loss to Tennessee, which he described as a “tough loss” that caused him to reevaluate everything regarding the team’s personnel and other decisions moving forward.

RELATED: Malzahn gives vote of confidence to OC Lindsey

Against the Vols, Stidham completed 28-of-45 passes for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also committed three turnovers — two interceptions under duress and a fumble — that resulted in 14 Tennessee points. The fumble was recovered by Tennessee and returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter to push the Vols’ lead to two scores.

After the game, Stidham gave an emotional and impassioned response explaining what this season means to him and when asked about his play this season and the outside noise calling for a change at quarterback.

“I think it was a good time after a tough loss like that as a head coach you look, and you look at the whole picture,” Malzahn said. “We’ve been close, and close is not good enough. We’ve got to figure out a way to get over that hump. Jarrett gives us the best chance of winning, and he’s tough on himself. He knows the turnovers were tough, and he’s disappointed. He’s going to fight to do everything he can to get that corrected.”

The announcement came just three days after Malzahn said he would reevaluate every position on the team following Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee. While Stidham will remain the starter, Malzahn said there will be “some tweaks” with the team against Ole Miss but chose not to disclose what they may be, though he danced around a question about potential changes on the offensive line.

“I told you after the game I’d be looking at everything to evaluate everything and try to improve us, and I’ve done that,” Malzahn said. “There will be some tweaks this week. I’m not going to sit here and say exactly what they are. I don’t want to incriminate us against Ole Miss.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

AL.com All-Access: It’s not yet time for Auburn to look to 2019, but it’s close

Not even the most pessimistic Auburn fan thought a month ago that the Oct. 20 game at Ole Miss would mean the difference between an average season and an outright dumpster fire.

AL.com All-Access: It’s not yet time for Auburn to look to 2019, but it’s close

Not even the most pessimistic Auburn fan thought a month ago that the Oct. 20 game at Ole Miss would mean the difference between an average season and an outright dumpster fire.

I don’t think even the most pessimistic Auburn fan thought a month ago that the Oct. 20 game at Ole Miss would mean the difference between an average season and an outright dumpster fire.

But after losses to LSU, Mississippi State and Tennessee in recent weeks, that’s where we are (or where we’re at, if you prefer).

The Tigers are 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the SEC, with a chance to slip to the .500 mark (and 1-4 in the SEC) if they can’t reverse course against the offensively-explosive-but-defensively-limited Rebels on Saturday. So while a lot of Auburn fans might be ready to throw in the towel and look toward 2019, I would argue that it’s not quite time for that.

Is Auburn really on an express train to Disaster Town? (Depends on your definition, I guess).

Could Gus Malzahn’s Tigers really fall from a No. 8 ranking in late September to eight losses by the end of the year? (They still play Liberty, Liberty, Liberty, Liberty, so probably not).

Should Auburn beat Ole Miss, the Tigers would be 5-3, and probably at least have an excellent chance to be bowl-eligible (there’s that Liberty game again). Auburn probably can’t expect to beat Texas A&M, Georgia or Alabama this season, but a 6-6 finish and a trip to Shreveport is far better than the alternative.

The buyer’s remorse about Malzahn’s $49 million contract (and $32 million buyout) is going to linger, but there’s really nothing to be done about that at this point (even if Auburn boosters could raise the money for his buyout, I’d argue it’s fiscally irresponsible to do so). Malzahn can make staff changes after the season, but he and Auburn are stuck with each other for the foreseeable future.

So what can Auburn do to beat the Rebels and at least make their season a little more palatable? Here are a few things:

Get the ball to Anthony Schwartz more: Malzahn has acknowledged this already, but having the Tigers’ most explosive player on the sideline late in the game against Tennessee was unconscionable. It’s not always easy to get a wide receiver the ball when the quarterback and offensive line are having issues, but a player averaging 16.7 yards per touch should probably get more than three or four opportunities a game.

Stick with Stidham … for now: There are many (including me) who argue that Malzahn’s offense doesn’t really work without a dual threat quarterback. They want to see Malik Willis or freshman Joey Gatewood get a chance to operate the power spread. But Stidham played just fine in the same offense last year, so it’s hard to pin all this on him. Stidham deserves one more opportunity to get things turned around. If Auburn loses to Ole Miss, then maybe you make a switch.

Stop trying so many long field goals: Freshman Anders Carlson may one day be as good as his brother, but he’s not there yet. Continuing to send him out for attempts from beyond 50 yards (eight so far this season) is setting him up to fail and wrecking his confidence for the future. Mathematically, you have a better shot to make a first down on fourth-and-2 than you do to kick a 51-yard field goal outdoors and on grass. Go for it, you don’t have much else to lose.

Keep on keeping on defensively: Kevin Steele’s unit has taken some heat the last few weeks, particularly after a subpar showing against Tennessee. But they can only do so much. Eventually, you can’t continue to make stop after stop when the offense is giving you short fields and three-and-outs. When teams perform poorly, fans tend to blame their best players. This defense is talented. If you don’t believe me, wait until next year when the three linebackers and two defensive tackles are gone.

So again, it’s past time to panic if you’re an Auburn fan. There are a few likely results to this season, and none of them are particularly good.

But it’s not over yet. If your team loses to Ole Miss on Saturday, then it’s over.

So what do you think? I’ll take your questions and comments on that or anything else on your mind beginning at 10 a.m.

Gus Malzahn acknowledges need to get Anthony Schwartz more touches

Anthony Schwartz averages 16.7 yards per touch on offense but averages just three opportunities per game.

Watch video

Nothing Anthony Schwartz does on the field surprises his teammates anymore.

Not his speed, not his big-play ability or evasiveness in the open field. It seems the only real surprise when it comes to the freshman receiver with world-class speed is how often Auburn has utilized him through the season’s first seven games.

“I think he’s one of our big-play guys,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Every time he touches the football, he does something positive.”

That was certainly the case in a losing effort against Tennessee over the weekend, when Schwartz finished the game with 127 all-purpose yards. He had two receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown while adding another 44 yards on three carries, leading the Tigers in rushing against the Vols.

The highlight of his afternoon was a 76-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, when he hauled in a pass on a 12-yard comeback, turned upfield and beat every Tennessee defender down the sideline.

“Most guys will get caught, but I seen Ant do it for a long time,” safety Jeremiah Dinson said. “I knew him from back home, and he’s been doing it since Little League, he’s a 100-meter champion. We see it every day in practice, so it don’t — for everybody else it’s shocking, but to us it’s nothing. We always see it.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound receiver with Olympic aspirations averaged 25.4 yards per touch against Tennessee — by far the most productive player for Auburn on the day despite being limited to just five offensive touches.

“I think we’re doing a lot to get him involved,” quarterback Jarrett Stidham said. “Coaches have come up with a great game plan to get him in certain situations out in the perimeter, whatever it may be. They’ve done a really good job.”

Despite Stidham’s assessment, it’s easy to argue otherwise. On the year, Schwartz averages 16.7 yards per touch on offense yet only 53.6 yards and 3.14 touches per game.

Only one offensive player averages more yards per touch than Schwartz, and that’s fellow freshman receiver Seth Williams, who averages 18.9 yards on just 12 touches this season. Williams finished with five receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee while being targeted seven times.

“Basically, just the future is definitely bright,” senior receiver Ryan Davis said. “I know our receivers are going to be in good hands once I leave. Just them keeping doing that week in and week out is going to give them the confidence going forward. It’s very pleasing to see.”

Malzahn will ‘look at everything’ in terms of changes after loss to Tennessee

Despite Schwartz’s speed and playmaking prowess, Auburn limited his touches against the Vols.

After Schwartz’s 76-yard score against the Vols, which came with 3:26 to go in the first half and was the Tigers’ longest play from scrimmage this season, he did not touch the ball again until there was 9:04 to play in the game and Auburn trailing by 13. He finished the game with just three targets, one resulting in a 7-yard gain on a fourth-quarter screen and the other a second-quarter Stidham interception, with Schwartz making a shoestring tackle to prevent a pick-six.

When asked if he believes Schwartz needs more opportunities with the ball in his hand, especially given Auburn’s overall offensive struggles this season, Malzahn gave one of his most direct answers of the season. After lauding Schwartz’s playmaking ability, Malzahn got back on track and said, “so, to answer your question, yes.”

“He’s a good player,” Dinson said. “He’s from Florida — South Florida, at that. Ant, man, his speed, man. He uses his speed and the offense does a good job of getting him the ball and finding him, and we’re going to need that. We’re going to continue to need that, man.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Gus Malzahn acknowledges need to get Anthony Schwartz more touches

Anthony Schwartz averages 16.7 yards per touch on offense but averages just three opportunities per game.

“We’ll Continue to Grind” – Auburn AD Allen Greene   

Sitting in Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday I was filled with a torrent of emotions not unlike most Auburn fans watching the Tigers allow another win to slip through their grasp. As the seconds ticked off the clock in the 30-24 loss to Tennessee, I knew that the coming week would see calls on social media and on Auburn chat boards calling for changes. The answer to where the program goes next is not an easy one either as Jay Coulter pointed out in his Monday editorial.

While I don’t propose to know how the situation will come out. I do know, like most of you reading these words, that I love Auburn. So after having a couple of days to settle down and gather my thoughts, I can only say, I’m not giving up on this season. Stay with me here because this is not an effort at pumping sunshine into what we all know is a dire situation.

I just don’t want to give up on the players. As far as I can see they still fight to the end in every game and I owe it to them as a fan to not give any less in my support for them. There’s still a lot of football left to play. Are the odds in Auburn’s favor? It certainly doesn’t look like it. But I can’t see how making any major changes to the program in mid season could help. Many will differ on that and I certainly understand those feelings.

But the one who is charged with stewardship of the program is Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene. He weighed in on the question yesterday at the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club. When asked about the job security of the coaching staff the AD said he plans to continue to support coach Malzahn. “Every one of us who are a former athlete or coach, expects more than anybody else expects of us” said Greene. “So when you don’t have the outcomes you desire, that’s a frustrating thing. But he [Malzahn] is committed to working through it and I’m committed to being there with him and we’ll continue the grind.”

After turnovers and blown referee calls helped keep this team from having a 6-1 or even 7-0 record my immediate concern moving forward is how much mentally the players can over come? Sometimes there’s a thin line between success and failure and often believing you can win is the difference. After three disheartening losses you have to wonder how much gas is left in the tank.

So despite Greene’s show of support, Gus has tremendous pressure on him now to not only win but keep this team believing after falling from pre season hype as a playoff contender. That has to be a tall order in the present climate. Can he do it? We will have the answer by Thanksgiving weekend. In the short run, the best thing to help the team believe would be a win. Maybe, just maybe it will come this weekend in Oxford. For the player’s sake I hope it does.

The post “We’ll Continue to Grind” – Auburn AD Allen Greene    appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Injuries Starting To Pile Up For Rebels – 247Sports


Ole Hotty Toddy

Injuries Starting To Pile Up For Rebels
247Sports
The injuries are beginning to add up for the Ole Miss Rebels. On Monday, Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke announced that sophomore wide receiver D.K. Metcalf will likely undergo surgery for a neck injury sustained during last Saturday's 37-33 win over …
Ole Miss Football: Coach Matt Luke Talks Arky, Defense And AuburnOle Hotty Toddy


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Auburn president’s office weighs in on state of Auburn football – 247Sports


247Sports

Auburn president's office weighs in on state of Auburn football
247Sports
"I recognize that football and Auburn football and the standing of the coach is a hot topic considering we're not where we really want to be and not where we expect to be," Greene told reporters at the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in Birmingham.
2018 Auburn Tigers: From Title Contender to Missing Out on Bowl?Fox Sports Radio


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Ole Miss Football: Coach Matt Luke Talks Arky, Defense And Auburn – Ole Hotty Toddy


Ole Hotty Toddy

Ole Miss Football: Coach Matt Luke Talks Arky, Defense And Auburn
Ole Hotty Toddy
Ole Miss football will back in action this Saturday in the Vaught as they take on the Auburn Tigers. Please be sure to follow us throughout the week for more Rebels news and updates and be watching for our Auburn preview. Be sure to visit and like our …

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Stats show Auburn offense was painfully predictable on Saturday – 247Sports


247Sports

Stats show Auburn offense was painfully predictable on Saturday
247Sports
It's almost like opposing teams know what's coming when Auburn has the football. On Monday, SEC Network analyst Jordan Rodgers put out some stats on Twitter that may actually back that theory up. If nothing else, the numbers illustrate just how
2018 Auburn Tigers: From Title Contender to Missing Out on Bowl?Fox Sports Radio


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Submit your Ole Miss questions to Auburn’s Gus Malzahn for ‘Tiger Talk’

Submit your questions for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn for this week's episode of "Tiger Talk" as the Tigers prepare to head to Ole Miss.

Have a question for Gus Malzahn ahead of Auburn’s road trip to Ole Miss this weekend?

Submit it in the comments and it could be asked during this week’s episode of Tiger Talk.

Malzahn will make his weekly appearance on the radio show Thursday at 6 p.m. To submit a question for Malzahn, you can leave it in the comments section below (be sure to include your first name and location), or you can submit your question to AL.com’s Auburn Tigers Facebook page.

We’ll choose a handful of questions to send to the show’s producers. You can listen to the show live on select radio affiliates, or you can return to AL.com on Friday to hear the full episode.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Submit your Ole Miss questions to Auburn’s Gus Malzahn for ‘Tiger Talk’

Submit your questions for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn for this week’s episode of “Tiger Talk” as the Tigers prepare to head to Ole Miss.

Tennessee Volunteers vs Auburn Tigers: Final Grades – Rocky Top Talk


Rocky Top Talk

Tennessee Volunteers vs Auburn Tigers: Final Grades
Rocky Top Talk
WHAT. A. GAME. Yes – it does suck that in the big picture of things – UT fans everywhere rejoiced on Saturday like they just won the national championship after beating Auburn. But at the same time, who the hell cares? Any proud fanbase that went
Tennessee football: Vols shock No. 21 Auburn Tigers on the road 30-24All For Tennessee


Bold predictions: Tennessee at No. 21 Auburn247Sports
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Gambling market: Possible ‘buy low’ spot on Auburn

Auburn is 2-5 against the Vegas spread. But there's reason to believe the betting market now has over-corrected by listing Auburn as just a four-point favorite at Ole Miss.

Auburn’s football program probably reached a three-year low Saturday in a 30-24 home loss to Tennessee.

The loss probably won’t be as shocking by the end of the season, as the Tigers and Vols may even finish the regular season with the same record.

But you’re not supposed to lose home games in which you’re favored by more than two touchdowns. Not when nearly half your games will be against AP Top 25 teams by season’s end.

Just like a financial market, winning money gambling on college football is about identifying and exploiting inefficiencies.

There’s an old equities axiom: “buy low, sell high.” It applies to Auburn this week, as the Tigers are a four-point favorite at Ole Miss.

The gambling market finally has issued a wild correction on Auburn, which opened as a 20.5-point favorite against Tennessee last week before moving as many as six points against Auburn at some books.

And this week, coming off that resonating loss, Vegas is essentially saying that Auburn is a touchdown better than Ole Miss on a neutral field. (Linemakers typically credit the home team with a three-point edge simply for the location of the game.)

This is an Ole Miss team with major scholarship reductions due to NCAA sanctions. A team that lost several key players to transfers. A team ravaged by injuries, especially in the secondary. A team with a defense as fragile as a leaning Jenga tower after three dozen rounds of game play.

There are obvious factors suppressing Auburn’s value in the market right now.

Auburn is 2-5 against the spread (ATS) this season. The Tigers beat the Vegas number by an average of three points in their two covers. In the ATS losses, Auburn failed to cover by an average of 14.6 points.

The Tigers have lost outright three times as the betting favorite, including a -15.5 closing line vs. Tennessee. The last time Auburn lost as a favorite of 15 points or more was Nov. 8, 2014, a 41-38 defeat to Texas A&M as a 23.5-point home favorite.

Yes, doing anything well against Tennessee needs to be put into context. But Auburn’s offense did gain 448 yards, its second-highest total of the season, and the most it has gained against an FBS opponent. That came with a caveat in the form of three game-destroying turnovers. But it’s progress.

The Ole Miss defense allows 141 more yards per game than Tennessee. It’s conceivable, maybe even likely, that Auburn could put up 500 yards of offense Saturday and score more than 30 points on offense for the first time this season against an FBS opponent. (Auburn beat Arkansas 34-3, but scored a touchdown on special teams.)

If Auburn can force Ole Miss into some turnovers, and get pressure on QB Jordan Ta’amu, it should win by a touchdown or more. The Tigers should exhibit something akin to desperation, as a fourth loss would put the team in danger of missing a bowl game.

Gus Malzahn’s Auburn teams are 5-16 ATS as a home favorite since 2015, but the Tigers have fared better as a road favorite (5-3-1 ATS in that same time period).

It helps that Ole Miss is now 5-2 this season. The Rebels trailed one-win Arkansas by nine with less than five minutes left in Saturday’s game, but still won 37-33. Otherwise Auburn may be closer to a six-point favorite in this game.

Before the season, my handicapping projected that Auburn would win this game by 17 points. I was lower on Auburn than most, but have still downgraded the Tigers significantly since preseason.

I’m inclined to make this line Auburn -6.5 through my own handicapping, so I see a little betting value in Auburn this week. I took a small play on Auburn -3.5 on Sunday.

Auburn will switch from a “play against” to a “play on” team at some point. It’s inevitable. Inefficiencies in the college football gambling market don’t last long. I’m betting that will happen this week.

Gambling market: Possible ‘buy low’ spot on Auburn

Auburn is 2-5 against the Vegas spread. But there’s reason to believe the betting market now has over-corrected by listing Auburn as just a four-point favorite at Ole Miss.

‘Godspeed and War Eagle’: Remembering the most Auburn space mission ever

However, the most Auburn of all the Auburn space missions was, hands down, the Space Shuttle Columbia's fourth and final test flight on Sunday, June 27, 1982.

9458163551_cfd6108849_z.jpgColumbia Space Shuttle astronauts Commander Ken Mattingly, foreground, and Pilot Henry Hartsfield salute President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, upon safely landing the Space Shuttle Columbia at Edwards Air Force Base on July 4, 1982 after a week in orbit.  

Auburn is basically Astronaut U. The school just can’t seem to stop producing space men. And space women. And NASA engineers. Even NASA historians. 

That quasi-controversial “First Man” that opened Friday? Yep, it’s based on a Neil Armstrong biography penned by a retired, Auburn-hat wearing Auburn professor emeritus, a book that, save for a 1967 tragedy, easily could have been about an Auburn grad astronaut who–true story–wanted the first words on the moon to be “War Eagle.” 

There have been Auburn shirts in space, Auburn pennants, Auburn satellites…  

However, the most Auburn of all the Auburn space missions was, hands down, the Space Shuttle Columbia’s fourth and final test flight on Sunday, June 27, 1982. It was only America’s fourth shuttle mission, and the first to include military experiments, something that took on a little extra significance when we learned the Soviets would have a few cosmonauts floating around up there at the same time.

But with T-minus a week, some of the biggest buzz wasn’t about the shuttle itself, but the two people who’d be inside: 1954 Auburn graduate Henry Hartsfield and 1958 Auburn graduate (and former SGA President) Ken “Played By Gary Sinise in ‘Apollo 13’” Mattingly.

That made it the first mission piloted by two graduates of the same university, a fact referenced in rare NASA footage of the launch in which cries of “War Eagle” can be heard from friends and family gathered to see the heroes off to the launchpad.

“When they reach the pad and go up into the white room prior to entering the orbiter, they’re going to greeted by a sign that was put up by the closeout crew, that for Auburn University War Eagles, containing those words plus a number of patches that are representative of the university,” an announcer says. “Both of the astronauts, as well as center director of Kennedy Space Center Dick Smith, are graduates of Auburn University.”  

At least three other NASA scientists and contractors directly involved in the mission were also Auburn grads. All told, more than 800 Auburn alumni were employed by NASA in 1982. 

Everyone hoped the flight would be the first to actually take off on time, but on Saturday, the day before the launch, chances seemed slim. A  Cape Canaveral hailstorm put 400 tiny dents into the shuttle’s heat-resistant tiles. The crew worked through the night to repair them. By morning, all systems were go. 

Among the cargo? Two personalized Auburn jerseys and a fancy copy of the Auburn Creed.

“Godspeed and War Eagle,” Smith told Hartsfield and Mattingly minutes before what turned out to be a perfect liftoff (that was actually a split-second early. 

At 10:59:59, half a million people along Florida’s highways and beaches pointed toward the sky as two Auburn men hurlted into orbit at 17,500 miles per hour.

Upon their return to earth a week later on July 4th, Pres. Ronald Reagan declared Columbia fully operational, compared the successful flight to the hammering of the golden spike that marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and introduced Mattingly and Hartsfield to the crowd of 30,000 gathered at Edwards Air Force Base in California as “two sons of Auburn.” 

And if that weren’t war damn enough, the AP reported that mission control had beamed up a recording of “Hold That Tiger” by the Auburn University Marching Band for one of Columbia’s wake-up calls. 

“We love that tune,” Mattingly responded. “Found out something up here though–you can’t stomp your feet to it.”   

Jeremy Henderson runs the popular Auburn culture website The War Eagle Reader. He lives in Auburn with his wife and three kids. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader

‘Godspeed and War Eagle’: Remembering the most Auburn space mission ever

However, the most Auburn of all the Auburn space missions was, hands down, the Space Shuttle Columbia’s fourth and final test flight on Sunday, June 27, 1982.

Auburn football: How did the Tigers fall this far, this fast? The 5 biggest culprits – Saturday Down South


Saturday Down South

Auburn football: How did the Tigers fall this far, this fast? The 5 biggest culprits
Saturday Down South
Expectations were through the roof for the Auburn Tigers this season, and why not? They were coming off an SEC West title in a season that saw the War Eagles beat Alabama and Georgia when each was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Couple that with a …
Tennessee football: Vols shock No. 21 Auburn Tigers on the road 30-24All For Tennessee


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Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf injured ahead of Auburn game, out for year

Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf sustained a neck injury and is out for the year.

Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf injured ahead of Auburn game, out for year

Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf sustained a neck injury and is out for the year.

Ole Miss will be without a member of the N.W.O. when it hosts Auburn on Saturday.

Wide receiver D.K. Metcalf sustained a neck injury and is out for the year, Rebels coach Matt Luke announced Monday.

“Metcalf hurt his neck, and it is worse than we originally thought,” Luke said. “He’ll be done for the season…. Long-term, he’ll bounce back and he’ll be fine. We’ll make sure he gets the very best care.”

The loss of Metcalf is a huge one for an Ole Miss offense that is among the most explosive in the nation. Metcalf is the Rebels’ second-leading receiver this season, as the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has 26 receptions for 569 yards and five touchdowns. His 21.88 yards per catch rank eighth among all FBS receivers this season.

Metcalf makes up one-third of Ole Miss’ group of receivers known as N.W.O. — Nasty Wide Outs — along with leading receiver A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge. They are the only trio of teammates in the nation to average at least 75 yards receiving apiece, and Metcalf leads the team with four receptions of at least 50 yards this year.

Last season, Metcalf only had four receptions for 28 yards in the Rebels’ 44-23 loss to Auburn.

AL.com will update this post.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Highlights of Auburn’s 30-24 Loss to Tennessee

Auburn lost to Tennessee. These are the plays that make it seem like they did not lose to Tennessee.

 

Why schools like Auburn rush to extend coach contracts

Why Power 5 schools like Auburn are rushing to extend coach contracts before they need to.

Coming off a division title that included a victory against its archrival, Auburn faced the prospect of losing its coach.

Who knows whether Gus Malzahn really wanted to return to his home state and become the head football coach at Arkansas, another SEC school, but Auburn’s leadership decided it did not want to chance it. Malzahn, who just the season before seemed to be in a precarious position with Auburn, received a $49 million, seven-year contract that makes him the fifth-highest paid coach in college football this season, according to USA Today’s salary database.

A few months later, Georgia gave Kirby Smart, whose team beat Auburn in the SEC title game and went on to play for the national championship, a similar deal after his second season at the school.

The willingness of schools to modify, amend or re-do the contracts of their football coaches, handing out huge raises and building in hefty severance payments, has helped drive the rapid escalation of salaries in the sport. In many cases, experts say, schools are unnecessarily aggressive in extending a coach, too quick to reward a small sampling of success, out-leveraged by agents, and driven by the fear of having to find a replacement.

“If we have a good coach or we think we do, we’re probably better off extending him because if we don’t, we have to let him go for whatever reason because he went to greener pastures, well, then we had the one coach that got away and it’s going to be expensive for us to pay off all the assistants who otherwise didn’t find a job and hire a search firm and hire a new coach and then pay market-grade for that particular coach. I think that that’s mistaken,” said attorney Bob Lattinville, co-chairman of the St. Louis-based Spencer Fane LLP’s collegiate athletics legal team.

Lattinville and his colleague, Roger Denny, did a review of contract extensions for football coaches at Power Five schools between Dec. 1, 2011 and Nov. 31, 2016, and concluded: “College football coach contracts are often prematurely renegotiated.”

Between the end of last season and the beginning of this season, 35 FBS schools — including 21 Power Five schools — made some type of amendment to their football coach’s contract. In some cases, such as Rutgers with Chris Ash and Minnesota with P.J. Fleck, years were added with no significant change to financial terms.

In other cases, superstar coaches such as Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer received huge new deals that justifiably put them at the top of their profession when it comes to compensation.

Some of the new contracts were more difficult to explain.

— Pitt gave Pat Narduzzi a new seven-year deal and a raise of more than a million dollars to $3 million in salary this year after going 21-17 over three seasons.

— North Carolina State extended Dave Doeren’s contract through the 2022 and raised his salary to over $3 million after last season, his fifth at the school and the first in which he reached nine victories.

— South Carolina re-did Will Muschamp’s original five-year deal that paid him $3.1 million last season and handed him to a six-year contract worth $28.2 million after the Gamecocks went 9-4 in his second year at the school.

Lattinville said schools and athletic directors are often rewarding success without properly assessing why that coach was successful.

“What’s important now is what happened now,” Lattinville said.

“You might be really, really good because you just happened to catch everybody in your division on a down year and you’ve got a quarterback for the last two years that had the hot hand. Or you’ve been able to avoid the injury bug,” Lattinville added. “There are some things that are far above talent and skill that make up wins. There’s luck involved, no doubt about it, and you’ve got to recognize that. And if you’re going to extend somebody — if you’re going to exponentially increase their pay — why also exponentially increase their payout when they get let go?”

If Auburn fires Malzahn more than halfway through his new deal, the school is on the hook for $16 million.

College football fans and boosters can be fickle, which causes schools to have little patience with their high-priced coaches. Two early season losses already had some Auburn supporters experiencing buyer’s remorse about Malzahn’s deal.

But he is 49-25 at Auburn overall and 26-18 in the highly competitive SEC West. He is one of the few coaches to defeat Alabama more than once during Saban’s historic 12-season run. Since Malzahn took over in 2013, Auburn has played for two SEC championships and a national championship. There is no guarantee Auburn could find a better coach.

“The reason that we’ve gotten to this point is the lack of proven talent to be able to go into the major jobs and to be able to secure wins,” said Jed Hughes, the head of global sports practice for executive search firm Korn Ferry.

The search for a football coach can put high-profile pressure on an athletic director. In an extreme example of what can go wrong, a fan uprising over the coaching search at Tennessee last year led to athletic director John Currie being replaced. Doeren was one of several coaches approached by Tennessee. He decided to stay put at North Carolina State and got that raise and extension.

Coaching searches are something ADs prefer to avoid.

“Oh, I’m sure there’s some of that,” Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione said. “It’s also recognizing you might be successful finding a great coach, but recruiting them to a specific campus is an entirely different endeavor altogether. Fans don’t realize how difficult that is.”

Gerry DiNardo, the former LSU and Indiana coach who is now an analyst for the Big Ten network, has consulted with ADs and coaches on searches.

“There’s very few ADs that will wait until a coach has done it in a sustained fashion before they’ll pay the millions and millions of dollars,” DiNardo said.

Most coaches have agents who are skilled at creating demand — or the appearance of demand — for their client.

“For some reason, we have some large swings in the marketplace and then it seems like a number of (contracts) start to get adjusted based on a wild swing in the marketplace. Whether or not they might be justified,” Castiglione said. “But there are other forces at work. I don’t mean to sound like I’m commenting against anyone but agents are crafty. They know how leverage works. They can manipulate the marketplace at times to the advantage of their clients. They’re doing their jobs.”

Army athletic director Boo Corrigan said the work required to make a coaching change extends well beyond the introductory news conference and is another reason schools are motivated to keep their coaches. It takes time to integrate a new staff into the university, from academics to student affairs.

“Every campus has something you’re recruiting to and they have to learn what you’re recruiting to,” Corrigan said.

And now more than ever, athletic directors are tied to the football coaches they hire.

“You make the bad hire and you can end up getting fired,” Lattinville said. “If I’ve got somebody who’s good or good enough that’s a whole lot better than risking your career on the next hire you make.”

Why schools like Auburn rush to extend coach contracts

Why Power 5 schools like Auburn are rushing to extend coach contracts before they need to.

How Auburn transfers, former signees fared in Week 7

A look at how former Auburn players and signees performed during Week 7 of the college football season.

How Auburn transfers, former signees fared in Week 7

A look at how former Auburn players and signees performed during Week 7 of the college football season.

Tracking how former Auburn players and signees performed in Week 7 of the college football season:

— Woody Barrett, Kent State QB: Completed 15-of-29 passes for 149 yards and an interception, also ran for 75 yards and a touchdown during Kent State’s 31-6 loss to Miami (Ohio).

Season: 157-of-256 passing for 1,560 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions; 297 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

— Byron Cowart, Maryland DE: Had three tackles, with two for a loss including one sack and registered his first career interception during Maryland’s 34-7 win against Rutgers.

Season: 20 tackles, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

— Marlon Character, Louisville DB: Had two tackles in Louisville’s 38-20 loss to Boston College.

Season: Seven total tackles in six games.

— Keenan Sweeney, Notre Dame FB: Played on special teams but did not record a stat in Notre Dame’s 19-14 win against Pitt.

Season: Has played in six games, with one tackle on special teams.

— Justin Thornton-Thomas, Jacksonville State DE: Played but did not record a stat in JSU’s 49-22 win against Eastern Illinois.

Season: Four tackles, one pass breakup and a forced fumble.

— Landon Rice, Jacksonville State TE: Started at tight end and had two receptions for 42 yards in JSU’s 49-22 win against Eastern Illinois.

Season: Ten receptions for 115 yards.

— Tre’ Threat, Jacksonville State LB: Had one tackle for a 5-yard loss in the Gamecocks’ 49-22 win against Easter Illinois.

Season: Five tackles, with 2.5 for a loss, including one sack and a quarterback hurry.

— Antwuan Jackson, Ohio State DT: Did not play in Ohio State’s 30-14 win against Minnesota.

Season: One tackle while playing in two of the Buckeyes’ seven games.

— Tim Irvin, East Carolina DB: Did not play in ECU’s 42-20 loss to Houston.

Season: Five tackles in two games.

— Carlito Gonzalez, Memphis DB: Did not play in Memphis’ 31-30 loss to UCF.

Season: One tackle and an interception in one game.

— Kayode Oladele, Memphis DE: Did not play in Memphis’ 31-30 loss to UCF.

— Tyler Queen, West Georgia TE: Played but did not record a stat in West Georgia’s 27-7 win against West Florida.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

The Flip Side: What to Worry About, What to Feel Good About Post Auburn Win – Rocky Top Talk


Rocky Top Talk

The Flip Side: What to Worry About, What to Feel Good About Post Auburn Win
Rocky Top Talk
Tennessee football does not have much to complain about after a 30-24 upset of the #21 Auburn Tigers. Saturday's victory broke a lengthy list of unenviable streaks for Tennessee's program, but more importantly, it was exactly the boost the team needed
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No Way Out for Auburn Football

What’s at stake for Auburn football over the next month is bigger than one man. Its outcome threatens to bring down the entire university. On the surface that sounds like a lot of hyperbole, but it’s very real.

A new school president staked his future on a football coach he barely knew last year. He brought on a new athletic director as his first major hire. Now, all three men are joined at the hip and must find a way forward or out.

Saturday’s contest in Oxford may be the biggest game in a generation; not because of the opponent, but what a loss to Ole Miss could mean to the future. A defeat all but guarantees a losing season and brings on Armageddon. A win does nothing but cement a winning season and a bottom-feeder bowl appearance. Birmingham anyone?

The optics for new school president Steven Leath could not be worse. Brought in from lowly Ames, Iowa, surrounded by controversy himself, he was quickly taken to the woodshed by super-agent Jimmy Sexton. Fast forward 10 months, and Gus Malzahn holds all the cards and a $32 million buyout, half of which is owed to him in the first 30 days following termination.

If Leath doesn’t realize it now, his fortunes are tied to Malzahn. If the school is fortunate enough to find enough boosters with more school spirit than sense to pay off Malzahn, you can bet they’ll demand Leath drive the moving truck out of town. All you’ll have left is an athletic director hired by the worst businessman in state history. Do you think Allen Greene will have a target on his back?

To put into prospective what $32 million looks like in real money consider this: Auburn Arena’s total construction cost was $90 million. The proposed football-only facility is expected to run close to $55 million. Boosters will be expected to essentially flush more than half that cost down the toilet before breaking ground. And let’s not forget, they’ll be required to buy out all of the remaining assistant coaches’ contracts plus hire a new head coach.

Now I’m a product of an Alabama public education, but I find it hard to imagine anyone with means willing to chip in to fund the Titanic. Auburn has few options in this saga. There is literally no way to win.

Should this team grab only one more win this season, it’s still very unlikely that Malzahn goes anywhere. The same cannot be said for Leath. Bad decisions have bad consequences. It’s why in the 21st Century it makes no sense to hire educators to run multi-million dollar universities.

Auburn needs a CEO in the worst way. The Jay Gogue era was a catastrophe. He was perhaps the worst school president for athletics in Auburn history and that includes, among others, the late William Walker. Plain and simple, Leath was not up to the task of negotiating such a deal with Sexton and Malzahn. A lot of that blame lies at the feet of the Board of Trustees, which let it happen.

This program is on the brink of falling significantly behind other conference schools because of its lack of facilities, including a football-only building. Paying off Malzahn and his team of coaches will almost certainly delay that construction. Keeping him around another few seasons is hard to imagine.

Either way, Auburn football loses.

The post No Way Out for Auburn Football appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Auburn NFL roundup: Peyton Barber gets going again

On the sixth Sunday of the NFL’s 2018 season, 17 Auburn alumni got on the field.

Auburn NFL roundup: Peyton Barber gets going again

On the sixth Sunday of the NFL's 2018 season, 17 Auburn alumni got on the field.

Peyton Barber emerged as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ top running back with a strong finish to the 2017 season. But the 2018 season hadn’t had an equally strong start for the former Auburn standout.

Barber entered Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons averaging 3.0 yards per carry (with 148 yards on 50 rushing attempts) and two receptions for 13 yards in Tampa Bay’s four games.

Coming out of the Buccaneers’ bye week, Barber ran for 82 yards on 13 carries, including a 28-yarder that’s his longest of the season. He also caught four passes for 24 yards, including the first touchdown reception of his NFL career.

Despite Barber’s performance, the Falcons held on for a 34-29 victory, with the game ending when a Tampa Bay fumble went out of bounds at the Atlanta 8-yard line.

Barber’s first NFL TD reception came with 3:47 left in the game, when his 5-yard catch allowed the Bucs to cut the Falcons’ lead to 31-29.

Barber was among the 17 former Auburn players who got on the field during the sixth Sunday of the NFL’s 2018 season.

Other former Auburn players who started on Sunday included:

  • Middle linebacker Josh Bynes of the Arizona Cardinals made eight tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, in a 27-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
  • Quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers completed 27-of-40 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and ran nine times for a team-leading 43 yards in a 23-17 loss to the Washington Redskins. Newton’s second touchdown pass followed by a 2-point conversion connection cut Washington’s lead to 20-17 with 3:15 left to play. Carolina drove from its 16 to the Redskins 16 on its final possession. But three straight incompletions ended the Panthers’ comeback with 34 seconds remaining.

  • Tight end C.J. Uzomah of the Cincinnati Bengals caught six passes for 54 yards in a 28-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Uzomah set a career high for receptions in a game, and the yardage was his second-highest for one contest.
  • Right offensive tackle Braden Smith of the Indianapolis Colts in a 42-34 loss to the New York Jets.
  • Left outside linebacker Dee Ford (St. Clair County) of the Kansas City Chiefs made one tackle in a 43-40 loss to the New England Patriots.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones of the Patriots made three tackles against the Chiefs.

Other former Auburn players seeing action on Sunday included:

  • Cardinals safety Rudy Ford (New Hope) against the Vikings.
  • Falcons long snapper Josh Harris against the Buccaneers.
  • Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson against the Steelers.
  • Chicago Bears place-kicker Cody Parkey was wide right in overtime on a 53-yard field goal attempt in a 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Bears would have won had the kick been good. Parkey didn’t have any other field-goal attempts and made his four PATs in the game.
  • Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Greg Robinson in a 38-14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
  • Houston Texans defensive end Angelo Blackson and wide receiver Sammie Coates (Leroy) in a 20-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Blackson recorded two tackles.
  • Los Angeles Rams defensive back Blake Countess returned a kickoff for 31 yards and made a special-teams tackle in a 23-20 victory over the Denver Broncos.
  • Patriots linebacker Brandon King (Thompson) made a special-teams tackle against the Chiefs.
  • Seattle Seahawks cornerback Neiko Thorpe made a tackle in a 27-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
  • Tennessee Titans linebacker Daren Bates made two tackles for the defense and three tackles on special teams in a 21-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Redskins center Casey Dunn (Hewitt-Trussville) against the Panthers.

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

Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne and Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis were designated as inactive.

The sixth week of the 2018 NFL season concludes when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Green Bahy Packers at 7:15 p.m. CDT Monday. ESPN will televise the game.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

Ole Miss Opens As Home Underdog To Struggling Auburn – 247Sports


247Sports

Ole Miss Opens As Home Underdog To Struggling Auburn
247Sports
Ole Miss has opened as 2.5 to 3.5-point home underdog to the Auburn Tigers, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers. The Rebels (5-2, 1-2 SEC) host the Tigers (4-3, 1-3 SEC) on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. The game …
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Tennessee football: Vols-Tigers by the numbers, career day for Guarantano – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee football: Vols-Tigers by the numbers, career day for Guarantano
All For Tennessee
The 2018 Tennessee football season got their first SEC win of the season against Auburn. Here is how the Tennessee Volunteers vs. Auburn Tigers broke down by the numbers. Oh the joy in Knoxville right now. The Tennessee faithful finally saw their

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Tennessee football: Vols LB Jonathan Kongbo out for season in awful break – All For Tennessee


All For Tennessee

Tennessee football: Vols LB Jonathan Kongbo out for season in awful break
All For Tennessee
Jonathan Kongbo had just played his best game of the season and showed what he could be as Tennessee football upset the Auburn Tigers. He was on the field as the Vols built a 27-17 lead in the game. But he suffered an injury in the third quarter after
Tennessee Vols defender to miss rest of 2018 seasonatozsportsnashville.com



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Auburn Football Review: Tennessee

Gus and Rod discuss Auburn’s disappointing loss to Tennessee. That’s all there is to say.

Tennessee Fades Auburn. (Grading Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee.)

A sloppy performance.
(John Reed, USA TODAY Sports)

     War Eagle everybody! It’s time now for the Acid Reign Report on an abysmal Auburn day, hosting the Tennessee Volunteers. Shaky offensive line problems continued, and a propensity to give the ball back to Tennessee doomed the Tigers to a 30-24 loss to Tennessee. Auburn played better than a week ago in the front 7 on defense, but this day, it was the Auburn secondary that could not make plays on 3rd and long. The Tigers stuffed Tennessee on the ground, only to surrender 10 of 19 times on 3rd down, usually on long fade routes on the sideline. When it doubt against this Auburn defenses, teams just heave the ball up the sideline, and Auburn can’t stop it.

     Auburn did a solid job up front on defense, limiting the Volunteers to just 68 rushing yards, on 36 carries, for just 1.9 yards per carry. In the end, none of that mattered, as Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano got the ball off quickly, hitting on 21 of 32 attempts for 328 yards, with no turnovers. That works out to a gaudy 10.2 yards per pass average. Auburn was able to sack Guarantano 3 times, but unlike his counterpart in the blue shirt, Guarantano was able to secure the ball and not kill his team’s chances with turnovers.

     It was another shaky day on offense for this Auburn team. More new problems arose this week. After an improved performance against Mississippi State, the offensive line took a couple of steps back. This week, the issue was not knowing who to block. Tennessee showed some different looks, disguising pressure. Often there would be free rushers in the backfield, with linemen standing around with no one to put a hat on. Auburn got killed numerous times in the A-gap, where pressure came right up the gut. If you do nothing else on the offensive line, you can’t just allow guys to pour through the middle unhindered. Protection starts in the middle, and works outward, no matter how the defense lines up. Auburn forgot that, this week. It wasn’t a good day running the ball, either. A tailback trio of JaTarvious Whitlow, Kam Martin and Malik Miller combined for 20 carries for 77 yards, only 3.8 yards per carry.

     Ordinarily, when your quarterback hits 28 of 45 passes, for a 7.1 yards per pass average, that’s a decent day. A day with 3 turnovers is a day most teams can’t win. Both interceptions were thrown right to a defender, and several more balls should have been intercepted. On the interceptions, those could have been pick-sixes, if not for miracle tackles by freshman receivers.

     Special teams had a decent day overall, but punt fielding has become shaky. Tennessee punted 4 times, and Auburn had 1 fair catch. After last week, Auburn seemed content to just let punts roll dead down near the Auburn goal line. There was also a botched kick return that pinned Auburn deep. Auburn also attempted and missed a 52 yard field goal attempt, after head coach Gus Malzahn had said that Auburn didn’t need to be taking those shots. I thought the decision was very questionable, under the circumstances. Auburn was trailing by double digits, early in the 4th. The quarterback is completing 62 percent of his passes, while the kicker is just 1 for 6 (16 percent) from 50 yards or more. The odds of picking up the first down were way better than the chances of making the kick. And, Auburn needed to keep moving, and give a tired defense more of a rest.

Unit grades after the jump!

Defensive Line: B+. Auburn’s gap control was much better this game, and the line did pressure the quarterback when he wasn’t throwing it up quickly. The line had 22 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and 3 quarterback hurries.

Linebackers: B-. Run fits were better this week, and Tennessee had nowhere to run. My issue this week was a lack of coverage on running backs. Tennessee backs were able to run quick, shallow wheel routes, and get downfield for good, uncontested throws. Chandler and Jordan combined for 7 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Auburn linebackers contributed 21 total tackles.

Secondary: D-. With the exception of a couple of pass breakups by Jeremiah Dinson and Jamel Dean, this unit was helpless with the ball in the air. Usually making the tackle after the catch, the secondary contributed 25 tackles.

Punting: A. Arryn Siposs has been as good as advertised. On the day, Siposs had 3 punts for a 44.3 yard average, and no returns. Auburn would be well-served to hold onto the ball better, and have Siposs punt it away more.

Punt Returns: D. This unit managed 1 fair catch on 4 punts. At least there were no fumbles, this week, hence the passing grade.

Kick Returns: D. Auburn returned a couple of kickoffs, and did not get out to the 25 on either one. Shaun Shivers was tackled after only 7 yards on his return. Fair catches would have netted 17 more yards than this unit produces.

Place Kicking: A. I still don’t count off for misses beyond 50 yards. As mentioned above, trying the kick was a lousy decision. Anders Carlson made all of his other kicks, and was 4 for 4 kicking touchbacks on kickoffs.

Offensive Line: D. This unit takes 1 step forward, and 2 steps back.

Running Backs: B. Auburn backs had no chance in this game, often getting hit taking the handoff. And Auburn lost their best rusher, JaTarvious Whitlow, when Whitlow was trying to recover a quarterback fumble. The bright spot was a few short passes to Malik Miller, who gets up a nice head of steam and punishes defensive backs.

Receivers: B-. There were more drops in this one, including a deep ball where Darius Slayton had gotten behind the defense. However, Auburn receivers made most of the offensive plays, in this game. Again questioning the decision-making, after a 76 yard touchdown catch and run, how does Auburn never target Anthony Schwartz again?

Quarterback: D-. It’s a letter grade per turnover, and then taking a sack on 4th down had to count off, too. Maybe Jarrett Stidham was just trying to make too much happen, on this day. I am not calling for benching Stidham, though. Realistically, I don’t think Auburn has a quarterback ready to hit 28 of 45 passes in a game, right now, other than Stidham. And with no running game to speak of, Auburn must keep throwing the ball.

     Auburn’s post-season chances have plunged, the past 2 weeks. We were talking about the Tigers staying in contention for a title, 2 weeks ago. A bowl bid looks unlikely, now. Auburn stands at 4-3, with 5 games left, and needs 2 wins. Even a win over Liberty does not look automatic, now. Liberty did beat Troy, yesterday. Auburn is at Ole Miss, then has a bye week. Auburn will host Texas A&M, then visit Georgia. Auburn closes out hosting Liberty, then travels to Alabama. Can the Tigers somehow pick up 2 wins and get to Shreveport or Birmingham? It doesn’t look good, right now.

The post Tennessee Fades Auburn. (Grading Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee.) appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Vegas releases Week 8 SEC betting lines

Auburn will try to end a gambling losing streak, while oddsmakers were shy about Alabama-Tennessee until they get info on QB Tua Tagovailoa's injury.

There are just four SEC vs. SEC games this week.

All due respect to Tennessee, which just broke a long SEC losing streak with a win at Auburn, but the best game on this slate probably is Mississippi State at LSU.

We’ve seen LSU win some big games, and Mississippi State’s offense has struggled. But the Bulldogs dominated the Tigers in Starkville last year, and got a bye last week while LSU is off an emotional win against Georgia.

The wheels have fallen off the Gus Bus at Auburn this season, and the Tigers should be desperate in Oxford on Saturday. A loss would drop Auburn to 4-4 with games at Georgia and at Alabama still left on the schedule.

Week 8 lines

Auburn (-3.5) at Ole Miss, noon ET
Tulsa at Arkansas (off), noon ET
Alabama (off) at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. ET
Memphis at Missouri (-7), 4 p.m. ET
Mississippi State at LSU (-7), 7 p.m. ET
Vanderbilt at Kentucky (-13), 7:30 p.m. ET

Based on BetOnline lines as of 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday

Week 8 gambling notes

-Lines for Tennessee-Alabama and Tulsa-Arkansas were not immediately available. Uncertainty with injuries to QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Ty Storey, respectively, prevented oddsmakers from offering a line Sunday afternoon during the initial release of games.

-My handicapping indicates the lines should be Alabama -34.5 and Arkansas -13.5. Those are not projections of what the betting line will be, but my personal lines that I use to compare to the Vegas line to determine whether I think there’s value on the game.

-LSU now has beaten three AP Top 10 teams outright as underdogs. It opened as a 9-point favorite against Mississippi State, and got bet down to -7 within seconds.

-Florida, the only team that beat LSU outright, is 6-1 ATS, tied with Texas A&M for the best in the SEC against the Vegas number.

-As I’ve written in this space, Auburn is 1-5 ATS since beating Washington, and was extremely fortunate to cover against Arkansas. Is this the game that the Tigers turn it around, at least from a betting standpoint?

-Kentucky has not been a 13-point SEC favorite since Sept. 27, 2014. UK beat Vanderbilt 17-7 but failed to cover as a 17-point home favorite.

-Arkansas has covered three consecutive spreads, and should be in line for its second win of the season at home against Tulsa. Ole Miss’ come-from-behind win Saturday may mean good value on the Razorbacks this week from a betting standpoint.

-Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M all have byes this week.

Vegas releases Week 8 SEC betting lines

Auburn will try to end a gambling losing streak, while oddsmakers were shy about Alabama-Tennessee until they get info on QB Tua Tagovailoa’s injury.

Auburn a slight road favorite against Ole Miss

Auburn plays at Ole Miss on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Auburn will be a slight favorite when it travels to Oxford, Miss.

Auburn opened as a 3 1/2-point favorite against Ole Miss for the teams’ meeting next Saturday at 11 a.m. (ESPN) in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, according to VegasInsider.com.

An hour later, the line shifted, with Auburn dropping to a 2 1/2-point favorite on Sunday afternoon.

Auburn (4-3, 1-3 SEC) was favored in each of its first seven games this season, but the Tigers are coming off a second straight loss — falling to Tennessee, 30-24, over the weekend — and find themselves unranked for the first time since midway through the 2016 campaign.

Ole Miss (5-2, 1-2 SEC) is coming off a second straight win after rallying to defeat Arkansas, 37-33, in Fayetteville, Ark., during Week 7.

Auburn leads the all-time series against Ole Miss, 31-11, and the Tigers have won each of the last two meetings between the teams.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Auburn a slight road favorite against Ole Miss

Auburn plays at Ole Miss on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn will ‘look at everything’ in terms of changes after loss to Tennessee

Auburn is 4-3 on the year and unranked following a second straight loss, this one to Tennessee.

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn will ‘look at everything’ in terms of changes after loss to Tennessee

Auburn is 4-3 on the year and unranked following a second straight loss, this one to Tennessee.

Watch video

Gus Malzahn is going to take a long, hard look at his team before it takes the field next weekend in Oxford, Miss.

Following a 30-24 loss to Tennessee — arguably the worst loss of the Malzahn era on the Plains — Auburn finds itself at 4-3 on the season, including 1-3 in the SEC and seventh in the West, unranked for the first time since Oct. 3, 2016 and at risk of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2012. It’s a position that no one could have anticipated, with senior linebacker Deshaun Davis saying he’d be “naked and under a bridge” if he were a betting man and someone told him the Tigers would be 4-3 at this point of the year.

Simply put, Malzahn’s Auburn team faces more questions than answers with five games remaining.

“Right now, my feelings are I’m disappointed for our team,” Malzahn said Saturday afternoon. “I’m not ready to sit here and make any kind of talk about staff or players other than I’m disappointed. We’re going to watch the film, and we’re going to get this thing corrected. That’s my responsibility as a head coach. Whatever it takes to get us corrected and finish this thing the right way, I’m going to do.”

Grading Auburn’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee

While the Tigers’ sixth-year coach wasn’t prepared to make any reactive decisions in the aftermath of the program’s first loss to Tennessee since 1999 — a win that snapped the Vols’ 11-game SEC losing streak dating back to 2016 — Malzahn plans to reassess matters this week as Auburn prepares for a trip to Ole Miss with all of its preseason goals now dashed.

Malzahn was asked after the loss about possible changes at quarterback, offensive line, in the backfield and among his coaching staff. He was noncommittal about any potential changes, though it’s clear Auburn needs to do something to right the ship and avoid the season nosediving over the final six weeks.

“I think we’ve got to look at everything right now,” Malzahn said. “We didn’t protect very well…. We need to look at everything — from an offensive line standpoint, for really all positions. Turning the ball over three times at home, not good.”

The biggest question Malzahn faced after the game pertained to Jarrett Stidham’s grip on the starting quarterback job following another poor performance. While Stidham had a season-high in passing yards and attempted a career-high 45 passes, he also committed three costly turnovers — a pair of interceptions under duress and a fumble that was returned for a Tennessee touchdown — that led to 14 Vols points.

“I’m going to watch the film; we’ll have a plan moving forward, whatever that is, to get better,” Malzahn said. “Bottom line is we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to get better as a team. I’m very disappointed with our performance. I thought we would play better. We had a very solid week of practice. I’m disappointed for our players, I’m disappointed for our fans, not happy.”

Malzahn said there was no consideration of an in-game change at quarterback, noting that the coaches felt like Stidham gave them “the best chance to win.”

Stidham emotional following 3-turnover effort vs. Vols

“Outside noise,” Stidham said. “I know how I can play, teammates know how I can play, coaches know how I can play and I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. I had, what, two turnovers coming into this game? So, I just got to hold on to the ball.”

Stidham has not played up to the standard he set a year ago while helping lead Auburn to an SEC West title and New Year’s Six bowl game. This season he has completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 1,499 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions while boasting a 126.76 passer rating.

He is 80th nationally in yards per pass attempt (7.0), 86th in pass efficiency rating and 70th in completion percentage, though he has not gotten much help from a struggling offensive line that ranks 50th in negative plays allowed (36) and a run game that is on pace to be the program’s worst since 2012.

“You know, I think it’s big-picture,” Malzahn said. “I’m not ready to sit here and say anything. It’s just big-picture. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to do better. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Statistically speaking: Auburn’s rushing offense continues to fall short, pass defense takes hit

Auburn’s struggles in the run game continued against Tennessee, while the Tigers pass defense had a letdown game vs. the Vols.

Statistically speaking: Auburn’s rushing offense continues to fall short, pass defense takes hit

Auburn's struggles in the run game continued against Tennessee, while the Tigers pass defense had a letdown game vs. the Vols.

Auburn’s rushing numbers continue to free-fall to new lows of Gus Malzahn’s tenure as coach, and the Tigers’ pass defense took a hit after the team’s 30-24 loss to Tennessee on Saturday.

Offensively, Auburn snapped a three-game streak of being held to fewer than 100 yards rushing by totaling 126 yards on the ground against the Vols. Despite that, no player had more than 44 yards rushing for the game, and the Tigers’ streak of consecutive years with a 1,000-yard rusher is on life support. Auburn’s offense is averaging 158.4 rushing yards per game through Week 7, which is 12th in the SEC, 78th nationally and on pace to be the worst of Malzahn’s time on the Plains. Against FBS teams, that average plummets to 113.33 yards per game, which is 113th among FBS programs.

On the other side of the ball, Auburn’s pass defense understandably took a hit after the Tigers allowed Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to have a career day, completing 21-of-32 passes for 328 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Auburn is now allowing 208 passing yards per game, which is eighth in the SEC and 46th nationally but still on pace to be the second-best mark of the Malzahn era.

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RUSHING OFFENSE

2013: 328.3 (1st, 1st)

2014: 255.5 (2nd, 13th)

2015: 196.4 (5th, 35th)

2016: 271.3 (1st, 6th)

2017: 218.3 (4th, 26th)

After Washington: 147.0 (12th, 83rd)

After Alabama State: 288.0 (3rd, 16th)

After LSU: 235.3 (6th, 28th)

After Arkansas: 199.3 (7th, 47th)

After Southern Miss: 178.6 (9th, 64th)

After Mississippi State: 163.8 (12th, 78th)

2018: 158.4 (12th, 83rd)

Why: Auburn ran for 126 yards against Tennessee, eclipsing the 100-yard mark as a team for the first time since Week 3 against LSU.

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PASSING OFFENSE

2013: 173.0 (11th, 106th)

2014: 229.5 (7th, 66th)

2015: 173.6 (12th, 110th)

2016: 169.5 (14th, 112th)

2017: 233.4 (5th, 65th)

After Washington: 273.0 (7th, 48th)

After Alabama State: 205.5 (11th, 85th)

After LSU: 203.0 (10th, 84th)

After Arkansas: 185.8 (12th, 103rd)

After Southern Miss: 197.6 (12th, 98th)

After Mississippi State: 200.3 (10th, 96th)

2018: 217.7 (8th, 79th)

Why: Jarrett Stidham passed for a season-high 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

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PASS EFFICIENCY OFFENSE

2013: 149.63 (6th, 24th)

2014: 156.79 (1st, 8th)

2015: 124.47 (10th, 79th)

2016: 135.17 (6th, 54th)

2017: 153.59 (5th, 13th)

After Washington: 145.09 (12th, 59th)

After Alabama State: 150.25 (10th, 46th)

After LSU: 137.25 (12th, 69th)

After Arkansas: 133.31 (11th, 77th)

After Southern Miss: 134.96 (10th, 74th)

After Mississippi State: 126.59 (11th, 88th)

2018: 126.32 (11th, 89th)

Why: Stidham completed 28-of-45 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions against Tennessee.

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TOTAL OFFENSE

2013: 501.3 (2nd, 11th)

2014: 485.0 (2nd, 16th)

2015: 370.0 (10th, 94th)

2016: 440.8 (6th, 43rd)

2017: 451.6 (3rd, 26th)

After Washington: 420.0 (11th, 69th)

After Alabama State: 493.5 (6th, 33rd)

After LSU: 438.3 (9th, 58th)

After Arkansas: 385.0 (10th, 89th)

After Southern Miss: 376.2 (12th, 95th)

After Mississippi State: 364.2 (12th, 99th)

2018: 376.1 (11th, 93rd)

Why: Auburn totaled 448 yards of offense in Week 7.

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SCORING OFFENSE

2013: 39.5 (2nd, 12th)

2014: 35.5 (4th, 35th)

2015: 27.5 (8th, 75th)

2016: 31.2 (6th, 49th)

2017: 33.9 (4th, 27th)

After Washington: 21.0 (13th, 100th)

After Alabama State: 42.0 (7th, 30th)

After LSU: 35.0 (9th, 53rd)

After Arkansas: 34.8 (8th, 46th)

After Southern Miss: 32.6 (8th, 54th)

After Mississippi State: 28.7 (11th, 73rd)

2018: 28.0 (11th, 74th)

Why: Auburn scored 24 points against Tennessee.

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SACKS ALLOWED

2013: 18 sacks, 1.29 per game (3rd, 22nd)

2014: 15 sacks, 1.15 per game (3rd, 15th)

2015: 19 sacks, 1.46 per game (4th, 33rd)

2016: 19 sacks, 1.46 per game (3rd, 27th)

2017: 36 sacks, 2.57 per game (10th, 100th)

After Washington: 2 sacks, 2.00 per game (11th, 67th)

After Alabama State: 2 sacks, 1.00 per game (4th, 30th)

After LSU: 3 sacks, 1.00 per game (4th, 21st)

After Arkansas: 7 sacks, 1.75 per game (10th, 55th)

After Southern Miss: 10 sacks, 2.00 per game (10th, 64th)

After Mississippi State: 13 sacks, 2.17 per game (11th, 69th)

2018: 15 sacks, 2.14 per game (11th, 71st)

Why: Stidham was sacked twice against Tennessee.

.

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS

2013: 46.5 percent (4th, 24th)

2014: 52.5 percent (1st, 2nd)

2015: 41.3 percent (6th, 49th)

2016: 41.8 percent (4th, 53rd)

2017: 45.5 percent (3rd, 15th)

After Washington: 50.0 percent (8th, 39th)

After Alabama State: 39.3 percent (12th, 77th)

After LSU: 37.5 percent (10th, 80th)

After Arkansas: 35.8 percent (12th, 91st)

After Southern Miss: 34.8 percent (13th, 107th)

After Mississippi State: 32.5 percent (13th, 117th)

2018: 36.4 percent (12th, 95th)

Why: Auburn was 9-of-16 on third downs against the Vols.

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RED ZONE OFFENSE

2013: 88.5 percent (2nd, 21st)

2014: 87.9 percent (4th, 31st)

2015: 90.2 percent (2nd, 13th)

2016: 85.5 percent (5th, 52nd)

2017: 88.1 percent (6th, 36th)

After Washington: 80.0 percent (12th, 82nd)

After Alabama State: 75.0 percent (14th, 103rd)

After LSU: 75.0 percent (8th, 47th)

After Arkansas: 77.3 percent (13th, 102nd)

After Southern Miss: 80.0 percent (11th, 90th)

After Mississippi State: 78.6 percent (12th, 106th)

2018: 80.6 percent (12th, 92nd)

Why: Auburn scored on 3-of-3 red-zone trips, with two touchdowns and a field goal against Tennessee.

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RUSHING DEFENSE

2013: 162.1 (10th, 62nd)

2014: 168.8 (10th, 67th)

2015: 182.7 (11th, 81st)

2016: 132.8 (3rd, 27th)

2017: 137.0 (5th, 35th)

After Washington: 102.0 (7th, 35th)

After Alabama State: 74.5 (4th, 17th)

After LSU: 90.0 (5th, 18th)

After Arkansas: 104.8 (5th, 20th)

After Southern Miss: 92.8 (2nd, 8th)

After Mississippi State: 135.3 (9th, 51st)

2018: 125.9 (7th, 34th)

Why: Mississippi State rushed for 68 yards and averaged 1.9 yards per carry.

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PASSING DEFENSE

2013: 258.6 (13th, 100th)

2014: 230.1 (12th, 68th)

2015: 222.5 (11th, 63rd)

2016: 229.2 (9th, 67th)

2017: 182.4 (5th, 18th)

After Washington: 296.0 (12th, 102nd)

After Alabama State: 227.0 (9th, 78th)

After LSU: 234.3 (10th, 82nd)

After Arkansas: 211.0 (8th, 63rd)

After Southern Miss: 211.8 (8th, 53rd)

After Mississippi State: 188.0 (7th, 30th)

2018: 208.0 (8th, 46th)

Why: Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano threw for 328 yards.

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PASS EFFICIENCY DEFENSE

2013: 126.88 (9th, 63rd)

2014: 124.19 (10th, 52nd)

2015: 116.99 (8th, 31st)

2016: 116.83 (4th, 22nd)

2017: 113.84 (4th, 19th)

After Washington: 138.01 (11th, 79th)

After Alabama State: 111.04 (9th, 47th)

After LSU: 111.41 (8th, 44th)

After Arkansas: 101.4 (5th, 19th)

After Southern Miss: 103.00 (4th, 15th)

After Mississippi State: 100.5 (3rd, 9th)

2018: 110.91 (7th, 20th)

Why: Guarantano completed 21-of-32 passes with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.

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TOTAL DEFENSE

2013: 420.7 (12th, 86th)

2014: 398.8 (9th, 64th)

2015: 405.2 (13th, 71st)

2016: 361.9 (5th, 28th)

2017: 319.4 (5th, 14th)

After Washington: 398.0 (12th, 76th)

After Alabama State: 301.5 (6th, 35th)

After LSU: 324.3 (8th, 41st)

After Arkansas: 315.8 (5th, 22nd)

After Southern Miss: 304.6 (4th, 16th)

After Mississippi State: 323.5 (5th, 20th)

2018: 333.9 (7th, 29th)

Why: Tennessee totaled 396 yards of offense.

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SCORING DEFENSE

2013: 24.7 (9th, 48th)

2014: 26.7 (10th, 62nd)

2015: 26.0 (11th, 54th)

2016: 17.1 (4th, 7th)

2017: 18.5 (3rd, 12th)

After Washington: 18.0 (9th, 39th)

After Alabama State: 12.5 (6th, 23th)

After LSU: 15.7 (10th, 25th)

After Arkansas: 12.5 (1st, 3rd)

After Southern Miss: 12.6 (1st, 3rd)

After Mississippi State: 14.3 (4th, 6th)

2018: 16.6 (5th, 14th)

Why: Tennessee scored 30 points, though one touchdown was a defensive score.

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SACKS

2013: 32 sacks, 2.29 per game (4th, 46th)

2014: 21 sacks, 1.62 per game (11th, 95th)

2015: 19 sacks, 1.46 per game (13th, 104th)

2016: 25 sacks, 1.92 per game (8th, 75th)

2017: 37 sacks, 2.64 per game (5th, 25th)

After Washington: 5 sacks, 5.00 per game (2nd, 5th)

After Alabama State: 9 sacks, 4.50 per game (1st, 3rd)

After LSU: 10 sacks, 3.33 per game (1st, 14th)

After Arkansas: 13 sacks, 3.25 per game (2nd, 12th)

After Southern Miss: 15, 3.00 per game (2nd, 19th)

After Mississippi State: 15, 2.50 per game (6th, 48th)

2018: 18, 2.57 (5th, 44th)

Why: Auburn had three sacks against Tennessee.

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THIRD-DOWN DEFENSE

2013: 33.0 percent (1st, 13th)

2014: 36.0 percent (4th, 29th)

2015: 44.9 percent (13th, 109th)

2016: 34.8 percent (4th, 25th)

2017: 32.9 percent (3rd, 20th)

After Washington: 35.7 percent (10th, 66th)

After Alabama State: 24.1 percent (3rd, 15th)

After LSU: 30.6 percent (7th, 28th)

After Arkansas: 27.3 percent (6th, 11th)

After Southern Miss: 25.3 percent (3rd, 5th)

After Mississippi State: 28.1 percent (4th, 10th)

2018: 32.2 percent (6th, 26th)

Why: Tennessee converted 10-of-19 third-down chances.

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RED ZONE DEFENSE

2013: 73.1 percent (2nd, 10th)

2014: 74.1 percent (4th, 13th)

2015: 75.5 percent (5th, 15th)

2016: 74.4 percent (3rd, 11th)

2017: 83.3 percent (6th, 64th)

After Washington: 66.7 percent (5th, 30th)

After Alabama State: 71.4 percent (7th, 36th)

After LSU: 80.0 percent (8th, 47th)

After Arkansas: 75.0 percent (5th, 33rd)

After Southern Miss: 78.6 percent (9th, 53rd)

After Mississippi State: 77.8 percent (7th, 41st)

2018: 78.9 percent (8th, 44th)

Why: Tennessee was 1-of-1 in the red zone, scoring a field goal.

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NET PUNTING

2013: 40.54 (2nd, 9th)

2014: 37.44 (12th, 67th)

2015: 37.58 (7th, 54th)

2016: 39.90 (5th, 21st)

2017: 35.61 (14th, 115th)

After Washington: 39.00 (8th, 53rd)

After Alabama State: 38.6 (6th, 60th)

After LSU: 42.40 (3rd, 15th)

After Arkansas: 48.13 (2nd, 8th)

After Southern Miss: 42.13 (2nd, 11th)

After Mississippi State: 42.69 (2nd, 9th)

2018: 42.86 (2nd, 9th)

Why: Arryn Siposs averaged 44.3 yards on three punts, with two fair caught and one returned for 0 yards.

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KICK RETURNS

2013: 23.40 (5th, 27th)

2014: 20.03 (11th, 82nd)

2015: 27.94 (2nd, 4th)

2016: 19.04 (12th, 100th)

2017: 23.22 (3rd, 25th)

After Washington: 16.00 (11th, 90th)

After Alabama State: 17.50 (12th, 92nd)

After LSU: 20.14 (7th, 72nd)

After Arkansas: 29.63 (2nd, 10th)

After Southern Miss: 29.63 (2nd, 7th)

After Mississippi State: 28.33 (1st, 6th)

2018: 25.91 (2nd, 17th)

Why: Auburn averaged 15 yards on a pair of kickoff returns.

.

KICK RETURN DEFENSE

2013: 25.79 (14th, 121st)

2014: 21.73 (9th, 84th)

2015: 21.17 (12th, 61st)

2016: 18.00 (1st, 13th)

2017: 27.20 (14th, 129th)

After Washington: 0.00 (1st, 1st)

After Alabama State: 18.5 (4th, 47th)

After LSU: 18.50 (4th, 45th)

After Arkansas: 18.80 (2nd, 41st)

After Southern Miss: 18.00 (1st, 28th)

After Mississippi State: 18.00 (1st, 26th)

2018: 18.00 (2nd, 27th)

Why: Anders Carlson had touchbacks on all four of his kickoffs.

.

PUNT RETURNS

2013: 11.78 (2nd, 22nd)

2014: 17.82 yards per return (1st, 4th)

2015: 11.93 yards per return (7th, 28th)

2016: 10.69 (5th, 24th)

2017: 8.52 (8th, 51st)

After Washington: 14.00 (3rd, 21st)

After Alabama State: 13.71 (4th, 26th)

After LSU: 12.00 (6th, 44th)

After Arkansas: 16.54 (4th, 25th)

After Southern Miss: 14.53 (5th, 28th)

After Mississippi State: 13.29 (5th, 33rd)

2018: 13.29 (5th, 29th)

Why: Auburn did not return a punt against Tennessee.

.

PUNT RETURN DEFENSE

2013: 7.0 (8th, 51st)

2014: 7.79 (10th, 72nd)

2015: 12.43 (11th, 110th)

2016: 3.17 (1st, 8th)

2017: 11.43 (14th, 108th)

After Washington: 0.00 (2nd, 8th)

After Alabama State: 0.00 (1st, 9th)

After LSU: 4.00 (7th, 45th)

After Arkansas: 8.50 (8th, 65th)

After Southern Miss: 9.33 (11th, 82nd)

After Mississippi State: 7.00 (7th, 52nd)

2018: 5.60 (4th, 39th)

Why: Tennessee attempted one punt return but did not get any yards.

.

TURNOVER MARGIN

2013: even, 0.0 per game (9th, 61st)

2014: plus-seven, 0.54 per game (4th, 27th)

2015: plus-two, 0.15 per game (8th, 51st)

2016: plus-three, plus-0.23 per game (6th, 42nd)

2017: minus-one, 0.07 per game (7th, 71st)

After Washington: plus-two, 2.00 per game (3rd, 17th)

After Alabama State: plus-two, 1.00 per game (6th, 30th)

After LSU: even, 0.00 per game (10th, 63rd)

After Arkansas: plus-two, 0.50 per game (5th, 39th)

After Southern Miss: plus-four, 0.80 per game (5th, 25th)

After Mississippi State: plus-three, 0.50 per game (6th, 41st)

2018: even, 0.00 per game (9th, 64th)

Why: Stidham committed three turnovers and Auburn did not force a turnover against Tennessee.

.

PENALTY YARDS PER GAME

2013: 40.64 (7th 30th)

2014: 68.92 (14th, 112th)

2015: 46.38 (7th, 34th)

2016: 36.54 (1st, 6th)

2017: 38.36 (2nd, 13th)

After Washington: 111.00 (13th, 118th)

After Alabama State: 70.5 (10th, 95th)

After LSU: 84.00 (14th, 119th)

After Arkansas: 73.00 (13th, 110th)

After Southern Miss: 74.00 (13th, 110th)

After Mississippi State: 63.33 (9th, 78th)

2018: 59.71 (9th, 73rd)

Why: Auburn committed five penalties for 38 yards against Tennessee.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Braden Smith’s time arrives with Indianapolis Colts

In the first four games of the Indianapolis Colts' 2018 season, guard Braden Smith played 10 snaps. In last week's game, he played all 83 snaps for the Colts' offense.

In the first four games of the Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 season, guard Braden Smith played 10 snaps. Then in last week’s game, he played all 83 snaps for the Colts’ offense.

When Indianapolis squares off against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon, the rookie from Auburn appears in for another full workload.

The Colts went all in on guards during the offseason. Indianapolis used the sixth selection in the 2018 NFL Draft on Quenton Nelson, used the 37th choice on Smith and signed 10-year NFL veteran Matt Slauson.

Nelson went immediately into the lineup at left guard, and Smith slotted in behind Slauson while also getting some preseason experience at offensive tackle.

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That preseason variety became important last week when Smith stepped into the starting lineup for Denzelle Good at right tackle.

“Braden played well,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “A tough situation to get thrown out there at the last minute. He did a really nice job. I think exceeded expectations at that spot.”

After the 38-24 loss to the New England Patriots, Smith said it could have been better.

“Good for the first time,” Smith told Colts.com. “But, of course, there’s mistakes I need to fix.”

The Indianapolis’ depth chart shows Smith as the starter at right guard. But he might not play there against the Jets.

Good missed the game against the Patriots after his brother was shot and killed in South Carolina. He’s returned to the team, but he won’t play on Sunday.

“Don’t think he’s quite ready yet,” Reich said.

Slauson also will be missing. The guard felt a pain shooting from his back to his legs against the Patriots, but he finished the game. It turned out, Slauson had fractured two vertebrae and will miss the rest of the season.

The absences of Good and Slauson are just the latest setbacks for the Colts’ offensive line. Indianapolis has used five tackles and five different sets of starters in its five games in 2018.

The Colts expect Anthony Castonzo, a seven-year starter at left tackle, to play for the first time this season on Sunday after overcoming a hamstring injury. But former Alabama standout Ryan Kelly, the Indianapolis center, practiced only on a limited basis on Friday because of a calf problem and is listed on the injury report as questionable for Sunday’s game.

“Certainly it’s not ideal,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said. “I’m not going to say it’s a perfect situation, but it’s the situation that we’re in. So we’ll roll with it. There’s a reason you have a deep roster at O-line. There’s a reason you have to have guys fighting for every position, and they have. I think everybody who goes out there, I feel very, very comfortable with because they’ve earned the right to go out there with some confidence and competence.”

So Smith could make another start at right tackle before he gets regular time at guard.

“Just got to be ready for whatever comes your way by just studying and knowing all the positions,” Smith said. “That way, when your name’s called, you’ll be ready.”

The Colts and Jets kick off at noon CDT Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Indianapolis has a 1-4 record. New York is 2-3.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.

 

Braden Smith’s time arrives with Indianapolis Colts

In the first four games of the Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 season, guard Braden Smith played 10 snaps. In last week’s game, he played all 83 snaps for the Colts’ offense.

Georgia loses to LSU as SEC East is now truly up for grabs – A Sea of Blue


A Sea of Blue

Georgia loses to LSU as SEC East is now truly up for grabs
A Sea of Blue
Kentucky should be favored in all of their remaining games, while Georgia still has matchups vs. the Auburn Tigers and Florida Gators. Though Saturday's events also involved Auburn losing at home to unranked Tennessee and Florida narrowly winning at …
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What Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee players said after beating Auburn for 1st SEC win since 2016

Tennessee snapped an 11-game SEC losing streak with a 30-24 upset of Auburn on Saturday.

Tennessee snapped an 11-game SEC losing streak — a run that dated back to 2016 — by defeating No. 21 Auburn, 30-24, on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, handing Gus Malzahn’s program its second straight loss and dropping the Tigers to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in SEC play.

First-year Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, who faced Auburn as an assistant each of Malzahn’s first five years, improved to 5-1 against Malzahn’s Auburn program since 2013. Here’s a look at what Pruitt and Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, running back Ty Chandler and defensive back Baylen Buchanan had to say about the Vols’ big win.

JEREMY PRUITT, Tennessee head coach

Opening remarks…

“We beat a really good football team today. It’s like I told them in there, if we learn to execute and raise our level of fight, we’ve got a chance to have a really good football team. There were times in the game where things didn’t go our way. I didn’t think we played very well at certain times in the game, but our guys kind of kept their poise. Fought a little bit harder. They played with a little better technique. We got some turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over.

“Did some good things in the special teams area to give us a chance against guys that are really good returners. Jarrett (Guarantano) did a good job taking care of the football, thought our offensive staff did a fantastic job mixing it up. I know we didn’t run the ball very well, we’re going to have to improve on that. But we did make some plays throwing the football, I thought we put the ball where our wide receivers could make the plays and nobody else.

“There was a couple of times where we got into a red area, we needed to finish off, put some touchdowns and we didn’t. But it’s a fantastic effort by our guys. Something that we can build on moving down the road.”

On what it’s like to win on the road…

“Let me tell you, this is not an easy place to win. Nowhere is in the SEC. So to go on the road and win against a really good football team in the SEC, I think it speaks to how far we came as a program in the last 10 months. Things didn’t go our way today all the time, but we’re learning to kind of play the next play, not letting the last play have any effect on the next ones. We’re growing up. I think it’s good for our guys. I’m glad for them. It’s good to see the smiles on their face and I hope they get used to winning.”

JARRETT GUARANTANO, QB

On taking advantage of downfield throws…

“I think we are starting to build on that and those type of things. So, I think that today was the first step in the right direction of those down the field passes.”

On finding poise after getting down early…

“We’re used to being down, as you guys know. So we weren’t focused on the scoreboard at all. That’s one of the things that Coach was saying pregame, don’t worry about the scoreboard. Let’s be the most physical team out there and let’s just go play ball.”

TY CHANDLER, RB

On how it feels to get a win on the road…

“It feels good. We finally got an SEC win. It feels great. I was so ready to shake it off. I was tired of losing. I’m glad we came here and got this win in a tough environment. It was a great team we played against today, so I’m glad we came in here and got it.”

On the offense’s performance…

“We were able to execute and move the ball down the field. We were able to convert on third down, and that’s all it comes down to is executing and focusing on the little things.”

On Jarrett Guarantano’s performance…

“We knew he was going to come here and do his thing. He’s a great quarterback and a great leader for us, so I knew he was going to do his thing. It was just important that we made sure we protected him.”

BAYLEN BUCHANAN, DB

Overall thoughts…

“We definitely knew that they were going to bring tempo to us. I feel like after that first drive, we just got back to the sideline and adjusted. We really just took off after that.”

On what they did in practice to prepare after loss to Georgia…

“We wanted to improve our tackling. The effort this week was just way different than it usually is. Everybody was excited to get out there and get better. I think that showed on the field today.”

On what this win does to the team’s confidence…

“Our energy is definitely there. Everyone is really excited, so I think this will build confidence. We just have to get on the film and prepare for our next opponent.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

What Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee players said after beating Auburn for 1st SEC win since 2016

Tennessee snapped an 11-game SEC losing streak with a 30-24 upset of Auburn on Saturday.

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