Auburn’s kickoff coverage remains a concern for Gus Malzahn

Auburn is last in the FBS in kickoff return coverage this season.

AL.com All-Access: What if Auburn had to play Alabama, Georgia and Clemson twice to win it all?

It probably won’t play out that way, but it’s at least possible. We college football fans love our hysterical playoff hypotheticals.

AL.com All-Access: What if Auburn had to play Alabama, Georgia and Clemson twice to win it all?

It probably won't play out that way, but it's at least possible. We college football fans love our hysterical playoff hypotheticals.

As college football fans, we love to talk about what might happen, no matter how farfetched the notion. See all the wild and woolly #Grumors.

We especially love to debate hysterical hypotheticals when they concern the College Football Playoff.

In that spirit during cupcake week in the SEC – someone tell ESPN’s David Pollack that soft menu doesn’t include tough-as-$2 steak UAB at Florida – there’s one scenario more outrageous than any other that could touch the state of Alabama.

It’s not totally full goose bozo to suggest, if the dominoes all fall the right way, Auburn could have to play Alabama, Georgia and Clemson for a second time to win the national championship.

The Tigers already have lost to Clemson and beaten Georgia. They’ll have to defeat Alabama a week from Saturday to reach the SEC Championship Game, where Georgia will be itching for revenge.

Teach the Bulldogs to behave for a second time, and Auburn is a virtual lock to reach the playoff as an 11-2 SEC champion with wins over, at the time, No. 1 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama.

What might the Tigers find waiting for them in the playoff? One-loss ACC champion Clemson and one-loss at-large entrant Alabama.

Imagine a semifinal date that would give Auburn a chance to avenge ugly losses to Clemson both last year and earlier this season. Now picture a national championship game that would give Alabama an opportunity to do to Auburn what it did to LSU during the 2011 season.

It’s probably too convoluted to shake out that way, but this is college football. Nothing is too crazy to contemplate.

Auburn targets Michael Parker, Tank Jenkins and Richard Jibunor should be placed on commit watch – SECcountry.com


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The all-time series between Auburn and Louisiana-Monroe is about as one-sided as it gets, which you might expect when teams from the SEC and Sun Belt meet on the field.

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Auburn football: Another look at the Georgia upset you can’t get enough of – SECcountry.com


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Auburn football: Another look at the Georgia upset you can't get enough of
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Auburn football is the No. 1 topic in the War Eagle Wakeup every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Tigers' sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Auburn football
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The story of Alabama’s Greg Gantt, Auburn’s David Langner, & the Iron Bowl that changed their lives

They were born nine days apart, and their paths first crossed at Woodlawn High School, but they will be forever linked by Punt Bama Punt.

The story of Alabama’s Greg Gantt, Auburn’s David Langner, & the Iron Bowl that changed their lives

They were born nine days apart, and their paths first crossed at Woodlawn High School, but they will be forever linked by Punt Bama Punt.

They were born within nine days of each other, and they died exactly two years and six months apart, Greg in the autumn of 2011 and David in the spring of 2014.

Their paths first crossed as seniors at Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School, where, with Greg punting the football and David running with it, the Colonels finished the regular season undefeated and earned a trip to the state playoffs.

In college, they would meet again, this time on opposite sides in the nation’s most intense football rivalry

Greg would set school records as a three-year letterman at Alabama, and David would become a ferocious star in the defensive backfield at Auburn.

They would become linked forever, though, by two plays that, fairly or not, would define their college careers and follow them to their graves.

Finally, they would play supporting roles in each other’s obituaries:

“Greg Gantt, who led the Southeastern Conference in punting for three consecutive years but is remembered more for having two punts blocked in a loss to Auburn, died today in Birmingham. He was 59.”

And:

“David Langner of ‘Punt Bama Punt’ fame died Saturday after battling cancer. Langner returned two blocked punts for touchdowns in the fourth quarter of the 1972 Iron Bowl to lift Auburn to an improbable 17-16 victory against Alabama at Legion Field.”

Even in death, their lives remain entwined.

David Langner and Gregg Gantt collage.jpgDavid Langner, left, was a running back and punt returner at Woodlawn High School in 1969, and Greg Gantt, right, was a punter and placekicker. The Colonels finished with a 10-1 record that season. (Photos courtesy of Woodlawn High School library) 

‘That was his dream’

The second oldest of Lewis and Joyce Gantt’s four children, Lewis Gregory Gantt was the only boy in a family of three sisters.

He started out playing baseball in the Wahouma Park youth leagues near his family’s East Lake home, but he soon fell in love with football.

“There was a nice ball field behind our home, and that’s where he learned to kick and punt,” Gantt’s sister Patricia says. “He was out there daily pretty much.”

Even at 12 and 13 years old, Greg could boom the ball out of sight, often sending it over the rooftops and into the yards of the houses that bordered the field.

“Me and the other kids in the neighborhood would go and retrieve the balls for him,” his sister says. “And sometimes, I would have to go a long way to retrieve them.”

Gantt’s father, who worked in the parts department at a car dealership, died from heart disease when Greg was in the 10th grade, making Greg the man of the house at 16. His mother also had heart problems, and was frequently in and out of the hospital.

“It was hard for him,” his sister says. “He was naturally concerned about his sisters, and with my mother being so sick. He was like the rest of us. He had to grow up pretty quick and become very responsible early in life.”

At Woodlawn High School, Gantt’s punting prowess soon became the stuff of legend.

In one game, with Woodlawn backed up on its one-yard-line, he stood in the back of the end zone and launched a 79-yard punt. In another, he sailed a 77-yarder that landed dead on the opposing team’s five-yard-line.

“Greg was kind of an introverted, shy guy,” one of his old Woodlawn classmates says. “But he could kick the heck out of a football.”

A three-year letterman at Woodlawn, Gantt punted for a 45-yard average and   kicked a long field goal of 46 yards his senior year, earning him a scholarship to play for Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama.

“He was pretty dead-set on where he wanted to go,” Patricia Gantt says. “That was his dream, to go to Alabama.”

Greg Gantt on signing day.jpgGreg Gantt, far right, is pictured here when he signed a football scholarship with the University of Alabama in 1970. Joining Gantt from left are fellow signees Joe Cochran, Frank Lary Jr., Alabama assistant Gary White and signee Gary Rutledge. (Birmingham News file photo) 

‘We’re glad you boys are here’

David Allen Langner, whose parents, Charley and Frances Langner, had both graduated from Woodlawn High School a couple of decades before, was a bullet of a running back at Pell City High School in the late 1960s.

Over Christmas break during David’s junior year, Woodlawn coach Bill Burgess, who needed a jolt of speed in the backfield to rev up his offense, recruited David and his brother, Chuck, a defensive end, to come play for the Colonels. They joined their cousin, Scott Langner, who played guard and linebacker at Woodlawn.

The Langner brothers only had their Pell City High School lettermen’s jackets to keep them warm that winter, Chuck Langner recalls, but Woodlawn lineman Raymond Rogers and a group from the Woodlawn lettermen’s club cornered them in the locker room one day and told them their jackets had to go.

“He said, ‘We’re glad you boys are here,'” Chuck Langner says. “‘Y’all are going to have to get rid of those jackets. This is Woodlawn, not Pell City.’

“We took those jackets off, hung ’em in that locker, and never put ’em on again. We went halfway through that winter without a jacket until we both lettered and got Woodlawn jackets.”

David — a sprinter who specialized in distances “short and fast,” his brother says — ran track for Woodlawn that spring, competing in the 50- and 100-yard dashes and on the 440-yard relay team.

The following fall, with the speedy Langner in the backfield and returning punts, the Colonels set a school record by scoring 372 points and finished the season 10-1.

Langner was named second-team All-State at running back that year, and he got an offer to play for Ralph “Shug” Jordan at Auburn University, where Langner’s father also played fullback in the late 1940s.

Gantt and Langer at high school all-star game.jpgDavid Langner, top right, and his cousin, Scott Langner, top center, and their Woodlawn High School teammate Greg Gantt, top left, are pictured prior to the 1970 Alabama High School All-Star Game with Minor’s Melvin Gay, bottom left, and Erwin’s Steve McClain, bottom right. (Birmingham News file photo) 

‘He was a Birmingham boy’

Freshmen were not yet eligible to play with the varsity when Greg Gantt arrived at Alabama in 1970, and they also weren’t allowed to have cars on campus.

So it was customary for upperclassmen to loan their cars to the first-year players when the varsity went out of town on road games.

Jimmy Rosser, an offensive lineman who was two years ahead of Gantt at Alabama, first got to know the team’s reserved freshman punter when Gantt asked if he could borrow Rosser’s two-door Oldsmobile Cutlass.

“I like different kinds of guys, and kickers were part of the team,” Rosser says.   “And he was a Birmingham boy. He was from Woodlawn, and I went to Jones Valley. So we had a little bit in common.”

The next season, Gantt made his varsity debut in the Crimson Tide’s 1971 season-opening upset of USC in Los Angeles, the game that ushered in the wishbone era at Alabama and laid the foundation for one of the most dominant decades in the school’s storied football history.

On the practice field, the guys on the punt coverage team gave Gantt grief for making them work so hard.

“When we had punting drills, they would make us run pretty hard, and we would tell Greg, ‘Don’t kick it so far,'” Rosser says. “If he kicks ’em 70 yards, we had to run down there and cover ’em and then come all the way back.”

Gantt good-naturedly told his linemen to worry about their blocking assignments and he would take care of the punting.

He led the SEC in punting that sophomore season with a 41.9-yard average, including 85- and 71-yard moon shots against Mississippi State on a memorable night in Jackson. It was the first of three straight years he would be the conference punting champ.

The Tide finished the regular season 11-0 that year, including crushing Auburn 31-7 in a battle of unbeatens, but got blown out by Nebraska in a national championship showdown in the Orange Bowl.

The following spring, Gantt was initiated into the A-Club, an organization reserved for varsity letterman at the university.

Again, Rosser looked out for his buddy from Birmingham.

“Back then, hazing was part of life,” Rosser says of the club’s initiation ritual. “I was an A-Club member, and I went through that. Some of the guys made it real hard on Greg, and I went over and told them to leave him alone.

“I knew Greg was going to be a good kicker and a good ballplayer for two more years,” Rosser adds. “If anybody was going to bother him, they would have to come to me first. And that’s how we got to be close friends.”

Greg Gantt punting.jpegDuring his sophomore season at the University of Alabama in 1971, Greg Gantt led the SEC in punting with a 41.9-yard average. It was the first of three straight seasons that he led the conference in punting. (Photo courtesy of Paul W. Bryant Museum) 

‘He would light you up’

At Auburn, Langer switched to defense and became part of a group of undersized, hard-hitting defensive backs tutored by secondary coach Sam Mitchell and nicknamed “Mitchell’s Midgets.”

Johnny Simmons, at 5-foot-10, was the tallest of the bunch, and the other three — Langner, Dave Back and Roger Mitchell, who was no relation to the coach — were a smidgen under 5-foot-9.

“They weren’t big. They weren’t tall. But you didn’t mess with ’em,” Chuck Langner, who played with his brother at Auburn, says. “And you sure didn’t turn your back on ’em.”

One season, Auburn floated the idea of wearing orange helmets instead of their traditional white ones, and although they never used them in a game, Langner wore one of the new helmets in practice.

“It wasn’t long before all the receivers were checking around to see where that orange helmet was,” Mitchell says. “He would light you up.”

Off the field, Mitchell became Langner’s lookout when he would go sneak one last cigarette before a game, and he often covered for him when he would slip out of the athletic dorm after curfew.

His teammates knew that wherever Langner went, adventure was likely to follow.

“David was always an initiator of things,” linebacker Bill Newton, who would become Langner’s “Punt Bama Punt” tag-team partner, says. “If you were with him, you might as well be ready to fight, because he was going to start something. He had the knack of (ticking) people off in just a heartbeat.”

That reckless spirit often carried over into games, too.

After intercepting a pass against Florida State in the homecoming game of the 1972 season, Langner famously leaped in the air, and with both feet, kicked an FSU player in the facemask, drawing a 15-yard penalty and getting him ejected from the game.

 “Shug” Jordan, the Auburn head coach, had had just about enough of the hot-headed Langner by then, and he was ready to send him packing.

“That was just about the last straw,” Roger Mitchell says. “He had already gotten one or two 15-yard penalties for spearing somebody, and I was afraid he was going to get sent home.”

Sam Mitchell, the secondary coach, told Roger Mitchell that it was up to him to show some leadership and keep his teammate in line.

“I rode his ass for a solid week,” Mitchell says. “Now, the truth is, I loved it (when Langner kicked the FSU player), and a lot of our teammates loved it when it happened. There was no way I would have done it because I just didn’t think that way, but we loved it.”

David Langner at Auburn from Roger Mitchell's Facebook page.jpgAt Auburn University, David Langner was part of a group of undersized defensive backs coached by Sam Mitchell, back, and nicknamed “Mitchell’s Midgets.” Pictured from left are Johnny Simmons, Dave Back, Langner and Roger Mitchell. (Auburn University photo) 

‘It was just like a bad dream’

Patricia Gantt and her younger sister Cindy were in the east stands at Legion Field on that first Saturday in December in 1972.

Their mother was listening to the game on the radio from her bed in University Hospital, where she was recovering from open heart surgery.

Their big brother Greg, who had booted a 72-yard punt earlier in the afternoon, stood on the Alabama 36-yard-line, his team comfortably leading Auburn 16-3 with less than six minutes left in the game.

Then lightning struck.

Bill Newton, the Auburn linebacker, surged through a gap in the Alabama offensive line and blocked Gantt’s punt as soon as it left his foot. The ball bounced off the artificial turf and into the arms of Newton’s teammate David Langner, who streaked 25 yards into the end zone.

Just like that, Alabama’s once-comfortable lead was down to six points.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no! Oh, no!'” Patricia Gantt recalls. “I put my hands over my face. I couldn’t believe it.”

Vintage photos from the ‘Punt Bama Punt’ game

Minutes later, her brother lined up to punt again, this time standing on the Alabama 30.

“I had a knot in my stomach,” she says. “And I remember thinking, ‘Please, please, please, I hope this doesn’t happen again.'”

Alabama placekicker Bill Davis – who had an extra-point attempt blocked by Auburn’s Roger Mitchell earlier in the game that turned out to be the difference in the one-point game — inched closer to the sideline to watch as Gantt got in position for the second punt.

“I was afraid it might happen again,” Davis recalls. “Everybody in the stadium was.”

And then lightning struck a second time.

In a replay of the first blocked punt, Newton shot through an opening in the Alabama line again, blocked Gantt’s kick a second time, and Langner again scooped up the bouncing ball and raced untouched into the north end zone.

“It was just total shock,” Patricia Gantt says. “I just couldn’t believe it. I remember thinking, ‘How is he ever going to get over this?'”

Gardner Jett’s extra point made it 17-16, a score that has become etched in Iron Bowl lore.

Langner capped off his unforgettable afternoon by intercepting an errant Terry Davis pass to seal the win.

“It was just like a bad dream that that could happen that quick,” Bill Davis, the Alabama placekicker, says. “(The game) was pretty much in hand, and all of a sudden, in two plays, it’s over.”

After the game, the Gantts’ East Lake home was egged and their yard rolled, Patricia Gantt remembers. She never knew if it was jubilant Auburn fans or angry Alabama folks who did it. Or maybe, it was both.

17-16 Legion Field scoreboard by Tom Self.jpgBill Newton blocked two punts and David Langner ran both of them in for touchdowns as Auburn upset rival Alabama 17-16 on Dec. 2, 1972, in one of the most famous games in Iron Bowl history (Birmingham News file/Tom Self) 

‘The greatest thrill I’ve ever had’

David Langner, by his own admission, was the most fortunate guy on Earth that day.

“Both of the balls looked identical to me,” he told sportswriters after the game. “They just bounced into my hands. All I had to do was pick them up and run. It was by far the greatest thrill I’ve ever had.”

In the post-game celebration, Langner walked out of the joyous Auburn locker room cradling two footballs, one for each of the blocked punts.

He looked around for Buddy Thorne, a Jasper dentist and Auburn booster who had helped Langner out as a freshman and had since become a close friend.

“He said, ‘Which (ball) do you want?'” Thorne recalls. “‘The first one or the second one?'”

Thorne chose the second ball, and many years later, he donated it to the Auburn sports museum, the Jonathan B. Lovelace Hall of Honor, during a game day ceremony with Newton and Langer at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“I didn’t tell you about the first (ball),” Thorne finishes the story. “Langner kept it, and he didn’t know what happened to it. So I’m glad I got the second ball, or he would have lost them both.”

David Langner by Tom Self.jpgDavid Langner is hugged by an Auburn teammate after he returned two blocked punts for touchdowns and intercepted a pass to seal the win over Alabama in the 1972 Iron Bowl. (Birmingham News file/Tom Self) 

‘They rub it in, rub it in, rub it in’

“The Amazin’s,” as Birmingham News sportswriter Clyde Bolton nicknamed that 1972 Auburn team, finished the season 10-1, including a 24-3 beatdown of Colorado in the Gator Bowl. They were ranked fifth in the final AP poll.

The next year, though, injuries derailed an Auburn season that began with much promise, and the Tigers came limping into the Iron Bowl with a 6-4 record.

Alabama, meanwhile, was on a mission, and the Tide’s wishbone offense was clicking on all cylinders, crushing outmatched opponents by scores of 66-0, 44-0 and 77-6.

“The week of practice building up to the Auburn game, you could tell there was going to be some redemption for a lot of things,” Rod Nelson, who was a freshman punter and Gantt’s back-up that season, says.

Gantt was constantly reminded of what happened the year before.

“I’ve been getting a lot of mail the past couple of weeks,” he told Jimmy Bryan of The Birmingham News a few days before the game. “Some of the milder ones say things like, ‘Punt Bama Punt.’ Some of the others you couldn’t put in your newspaper.

“But it doesn’t bother me,” Gantt added. “What happened last year was just the breaks of the game. But they won’t let me forget. They rub it in, rub it in, rub it in.”

An undefeated Alabama team easily avenged the previous season’s heartbreaking loss with a 35-0 shutout of Auburn. Gantt only had to punt once, for 41 yards. The best part: It wasn’t blocked.

“I’ve been sitting here trying to remember a little tune,” the Tide’s Paul “Bear” Bryant told reporters in the victorious Alabama dressing room. “Something about ‘Punt Bama Punt.'”

Although he only punted 25 times that year, Gantt finished with a 48.7-yard average, an Alabama single-season record that still stands. His career average of 43.6 yards has since been surpassed by current Crimson Tide punter JK Scott, who, 10 games into his final season, has averaged 45.7 yards for his career.

Gantt and his Alabama teammates won the UPI national championship that 1973 season, but they lost the AP title in a crushing 24-23 Sugar Bowl defeat to Notre Dame.

After he finished at Alabama, Gantt joined the NFL’s New York Jets, who selected him in the eighth round of the 1974 draft.

In two seasons with the Jets, he averaged 36.2 yards a punt. Before the start of the 1976 season, when he asked to get paid $35,000 a year, the Jets released him.

“I loved college football,” Gantt told the Birmingham Post-Herald’s Bill Lumpkin four years later. “I never particularly cared for the pros. I was never happy. I never got used to New York weather.”

Greg Gantt college and pro.jpgAfter punting for three years for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 1971 to 1973, left, Greg Gantt, played two seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets, from 1974 to 1975, right. (Photos courtesy of Paul W. Bryant Museum and Topps Chewing Gum) 

‘Dad always kept things interesting’

David Langner, who made the UPI All-SEC team his senior season at Auburn, was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 17th round of the 1974 NFL draft.

His pro career did not pan out, though, and he went to work for a car dealership in Birmingham and later for a coal-equipment company in Jasper.

After his son, Brad, was born in 1979, Langner returned to Auburn to finish his degree, and he served as a student assistant coach on Doug Barfield’s staff and then for Pat Dye during his first season at Auburn in 1981.

A year later, Langner got a head coaching job at Pickens Academy, a small private high school in Carrollton, just west of Tuscaloosa. His team finished 4-5-1 that season, and he got out of coaching.

“We moved around a lot,” Brad Langner, whose parents divorced when he was young, says. “There were a lot of endeavors along the way. It was a wild ride. Dad always kept things interesting.”

Ironically, an old Auburn football hero eventually found a home in Tuscaloosa, where Langner worked for many years for Townsend Automotive and where he met and later married an Alabama fan.

For the last 17 years of his life, Langner lived happily in the heart of Crimson Tide country.

“I don’t know if it was meant to be long-term, but Dad kind of fell in love with Tuscaloosa almost immediately,” Brad Langner says. “He just enjoyed being there.

“If he were living in Auburn, everybody would be patting him on the back and telling him how great he was. He would rather be in Tuscaloosa, where he could argue with them about football. The conflict was more fun to him than getting patted on the back.”

Mitchell's Midgets cropped.JPEGAuburn’s “Mitchell’s Midgets” from the 1972 team got together for a reunion in 2013. Pictured are, left to right, Johnny Simmons, Dave Beck, coach Sam Mitchell, David Langner and Roger Mitchell. (Photo courtesy of Roger Mitchell) 

‘Your name is familiar’

After moving back to Alabama, Greg Gantt started a recycling company, and he and his second wife, Frances, had two daughters, Miranda and Meagan. The couple later divorced.

On his sales calls, Gantt learned to take it in stride when people did a double-take after he introduced himself.

“I can walk into an office, hand my card to a customer, and if he says, ‘I know you,’ he’s an Auburn fan,” he told the Post-Herald’s Lumpkin in that 1980 interview. “If he takes the card and says, ‘Your name is familiar,’ he’s an Alabama fan. I can tell them apart.

“It has really helped me more than it has hurt,” Gantt added. “I can kid about it. It doesn’t haunt me. It’s something people remember.”

Jim Simmons, a three-year letterman at Alabama who started on the defensive line for the 1964 national championship team, played a decade before Gantt but the two became close friends after meeting at A-Club gatherings and then later when they both lived in Birmingham.

“We just sort of clicked,” Simmons says. “As cantankerous as he was, he was a pretty darn good guy when you got to know him.”

They later went into business together and traveled together on business trips.

“That Auburn thing,” as Simmons refers to the 17-16 game, got under Gantt’s skin on occasion, but he had a sense of humor about it, too.

Simmons recalls an encounter with some fans who were needling Gantt at a restaurant on one of their road trips.

“Somebody was giving him a hard time, talking some trash about Alabama,” Simmons says. “The guy gets up and goes to the restroom, so Gantt follows him in there. And I said, ‘Oh, hell.’

“I kept my nose out of that deal, but he came back, and I said, ‘How did it go in there, bud?’ He said, ‘You know, I took care of business and we talked a little bit and everything’s good.’

“I said, ‘He recognized you, didn’t he?’ He said, “Yeah, I told him I was Jim Simmons.'”

Greg Gantt with wife and two daughter from obituary (get permission).JPGIn the family photo from about 1990, Greg Gantt is pictured with his former wife Frances and their daughters Miranda, second from left, and Meagan, right. (Photo courtesy of the Gantt family) 

‘We lost a good man’

As did his father, mother and older sister, Carol — all of whom predeceased him — Greg Gantt suffered from coronary artery disease, which lessens the flow of blood through the arteries and, over time, weakens the heart muscle.

He was only in his late 30s when he had his first heart attack and had to undergo open heart surgery, his sister Patricia says.

“He was a young man,” she says. “His youngest daughter was about three years old when he got sick.”

While his heart condition worsened, Gantt later developed diabetes, and near the end of his life, his left leg had to be amputated due to complications following knee replacement surgery.

A few of his old Alabama buddies — in particular, Jim Simmons and Jimmy Rosser — visited him often to lift his spirits.

Rosser, who loaned Gantt his car all those many years ago, says he sometimes had to remind his friend that those two blocked kicks were just a couple of bad bumps  on what was an otherwise great ride.

“As a friend, I loved him and didn’t want him to always be dwelling on that thing,” Rosser says. “I said. ‘You played on three SEC champions, and you’re wearing a national championship ring. I think you got a pretty good deal.'”

One day, when they were having a sister-to-brother, heart-to-heart talk, Patricia Gantt asked Greg what were the happiest times of his life.

He told her they were the births of his two daughters and the four years he played for and attended the University of Alabama.

“He was just so grateful to have played for Alabama and to have been educated there,” Patricia says. “It was just such a fantastic experience for him.”

Simmons — who, at Gantt’s request, would sometimes bring him a Golden Rule barbecue sandwich and sneak it past the nurses – dropped by early one Wednesday morning to visit Greg in the intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s Birmingham hospital.

They talked for a little while, but Greg said he wasn’t feeling good and Simmons left.

“I was the last one to see him,” Simmons says. “I didn’t know that was going to be the last time.”

Before his sister had a chance to get there and read him the sports pages, as she did every morning, Greg Gantt died, four days before his 60th birthday.

Along with Simmons, a handful of Gantt’s former Alabama teammates — including offensive lineman Steve Sprayberry, defensive back David McMakin and quarterback Gary Rutledge — attended his visitation at Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham. Rosser was in California on a business trip and couldn’t be there.

Burying a teammate is like losing a member of the family.

“We lost a good man,” Simmons says. “I wish he were here today. I’m sure he could give you some sage advice because he was not bashful about it.”

Another old teammate also came by that day to pay his respects, this one from Woodlawn.

It was David Langner.

“He just said he was sorry to hear about Greg’s passing,” Gantt’s sister Patricia recalls. “I was very appreciative of him coming. Even though it was under bad circumstances, it was a pleasure to get to meet him personally and talk with him.”

At the graveside service that Monday, Patricia Gantt brought the sports page from the Oct. 26, 2011, edition of The Birmingham News — the paper she never got to read him — and tucked it inside his casket.

Greg Gantt cemetery marker.jpg Greg Gantt is buried in Southern Heritage Cemetery in Pelham, Ala. He died Oct. 26, 2011, four days shy of his 60th birthday. (Bob Carlton/bcarlton@al.com) 

‘Are we OK about the FSU game?’

David Langner was also coming face-to-face with his mortality.

A smoker since he was a teenager, he had heart issues of his own and underwent four heart bypass operations, his brother, Chuck, says. Once, Langner drove himself to the hospital after he had a heart attack.

But he later discovered that he had kidney cancer, and even the toughest son-of-a-gun on one of the scrappiest Auburn teams ever wasn’t going to beat this one. 

About six months before he died, Langner called up his old teammate Roger Mitchell and asked him to come to Tuscaloosa to play golf, presumably to show Mitchell how much his game had improved.

“I was bragging on him, telling him how good his golf game looked,” Mitchell remembers. “He looked at me and said, ‘Mitchell, I don’t want to hear any of that (stuff). What I want to know is: Are we OK about the FSU game?’ That’s what he wanted to get off his chest.

“I said, ‘Hell, yeah, we’re OK.”

Right there, in the middle of the fairway, the two old teammates started crying.

And then they hugged.

David Langner then and then.jpgDavid Langner was a running back at Woodlawn High School in 1969, left, and a defensive back at Auburn University from 1971 to 1973, right. (Photos courtesy of Woodlawn High School library and Auburn University) 

‘Do you know Jesus?’

In November 2013, in a story following Auburn’s similarly stunning “Kick Six” upset of Alabama that year, Langner told AL.com’s Jon Solomon that hardly a day went by without someone asking him about the “Punt Bama Punt” game in 1972.

“Anything in life you can be remembered for that you want to be remembered for is a gift that not many people have,” he said. “That’s something I’ve lived with and enjoyed living with. It’s a wonderful gift to have.”

But Langner added that, as a young man, he was not prepared for all the fame and adulation that came with it.

“If you’ve never had a reason to be in that situation before, it’s tough,” he said. “You make a lot of mistakes. You offend a lot of people. I certainly did, and I regret it.”

Langner didn’t say it at the time, but he knew the clock was running out on him, and there wouldn’t be a miracle comeback this time.

The following spring, he invited several of his teammates from that ’72 Auburn team to a cookout at his son Brad’s house in Auburn.

Thorne, Langner’s old friend from Jasper, picked him up in Tuscaloosa, and they rode to Auburn together in the BMW that Langner had sold him.

While it was just the two of them, Thorne had something to ask Langner.

“My question to David was: It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or accomplished, positive or negative,” Thorne says. “There’s not but one thing that counts in this world, and that’s do you know Jesus? So, I want to ask you right now: Do you know Jesus?”

“And he said, ‘Yes, I do.’

“We pulled over and had a good prayer, and I was satisfied that Langner knew the Lord.  And that was the most important thing to me that ever happened between the two of us.”

About a month later, on April 26, 2014, David Langner died.

Bill Newton, Roger Mitchell, Johnny Simmons, Dave Beck and a few of Langner’s other old teammates were there for the celebration of his life at Buddy Thorne’s daughter’s house overlooking the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa.

They scattered his ashes in the river, and then they said their goodbyes.

Remembering the 1974 Banks-Woodlawn game

Head to Head: Auburn vs. Louisiana Monroe

Auburn faces Louisiana Monroe in Week 12, following the takedown of No. 1 Georgia.

Watch video

 

Coming off the glorious takedown of No. 1 Georgia, Auburn will take on Louisiana Monroe. Lauren Sisler and Kevin Scarbinsky discuss the upcoming game.

Head to Head: Auburn vs. Louisiana Monroe

Auburn faces Louisiana Monroe in Week 12, following the takedown of No. 1 Georgia.

Meet your Nonconfriends: Indiana State

Of the Auburn men’s basketball team’s 31 scheduled regular-season opponents this season, 13 are of the nonconference variety and some of those are against teams you likely know very little about.

UAB Blazers will burn the Florida Gators in national debut

Joe vs. the Pro features scouting reports, TV times and picks against the spread of the best college football games each week. The place every coach goes for bulletin-board material.

UAB Blazers will burn the Florida Gators in national debut

Joe vs. the Pro features scouting reports, TV times and picks against the spread of the best college football games each week. The place every coach goes for bulletin-board material.

Gus Malzahn to Arkansas? Seriously? How about a new deal at Auburn?

The Georgia win put the Auburn coach on stronger footing than he's been in some time. With only three years left on his contract, an extension seems in order.

As Auburn decision-makers wrestle with whether to keep basketball coach Bruce Pearl and whom to hire to succeed Jay Jacobs as athletics director, another issue should be on their radar in the glow of the football team’s 40-17 destruction of Georgia.

What are they going to do about Gus Malzahn’s contract?

That subject has escaped public notice as the Tigers have moved squarely into the national championship discussion at No. 6 in the latest playoff committee rankings, but the industry is aware of one key fact about Malzahn’s deal.

It has only three years remaining after this season. The last adjustment, which he signed in April of 2016, was a one-year extension through Dec. 31, 2020. He’s making $4.725 million a year through the remainder of the deal.

That means Malzahn is under contract for three more seasons in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

It’s almost unheard of for a major college coach to enter a season in that situation so it seems inevitable that reps for the coach and the school will be talking about an extension at the conclusion of the regular season, if not sooner.

Complicating matters is next week’s Iron Bowl, which will decide the SEC West title and give the winner the inside track toward a playoff berth. Beat Alabama for the first time since 2013, and Malzahn will be in his strongest position in years.

Lose to Alabama for the fourth straight year, and it’ll be Auburn’s longest losing streak in the series since dropping nine straight from 1973-81. How would that change the mood among Auburn’s power brokers?

They tend to be emotional in either direction. Before Malzahn completed his first regular season, they agreed to give him a raise and an extension after Auburn beat Georgia with the Prayer in Jordan-Hare, though the deal wasn’t announced until the day before the Tigers beat Missouri in the 2013 SEC Championship Game.

Adding a bit of urgency to this situation is the new early signing period of Dec. 20-22. It’s almost a certainty that, if Malzahn and Auburn don’t agree on an extension before then, rival coaches will try to use that information against the Tigers on the recruiting trail.

The win over Georgia, which was No. 1 in the playoff rankings at the time, snapped a six-game losing streak to top-10 teams dating to 2014. That resounding victory has shifted the fan discussion of Malzahn’s future in his favor.

It appears far more likely than not he’ll be back for his sixth season at Auburn in 2018 – unless he decides to leave for another job. One theory says there’s one job that might appeal to Malzahn – his home-state University of Arkansas, where he got his introduction to major college coaching – and major staff drama – as offensive coordinator in 2006.

At the moment, Arkansas has a coach in Bret Bielema. What it doesn’t have is a full-time athletics director. The school announced Wednesday that it’s fired Jeff Long, which can’t be good news for Bielema. Long hired Bielema, and Bielema praised his old boss on the SEC teleconference Wednesday.

With Long gone, Bielema appears to be on his way out as well.

Would Arkansas target Malzahn if/when it does fire Bielema? It would make sense. If offered the job, would Malzahn leave Auburn to restart his clock at a familiar place in the same division?

Seriously?

That rumor is all the rage, but talk to people close to Malzahn, and they say what he’s said for years. He really likes coaching at Auburn. He knows what’s possible there, like winning the SEC title – which Arkansas has never done – and the national title – which Arkansas has done once in 1964 in the days of multiple champions.

The Hogs won the Football Writers Association of America title that year. Alabama won the AP and UPI crowns.

As Auburn’s offensive coordinator and head coach, Malzahn has been a part of two SEC championships, two national championship games and one national title. He has the Tigers in the hunt for both rings again.

Malzahn, with only one year as a college head coach at Arkansas State, and Bielema, with a solid track record at Wisconsin, were hired at the same time to clean up messes at their current jobs. Malzahn is 43-20 overall and 24-15 in the SEC. Bielema is 29-32 and 11-27.

Bottom line: Auburn is a far better job than Arkansas.

Another factor could make staying at Auburn more attractive for Malzahn. Jay Jacobs is playing out the string as a lame-duck AD. His successor is expected to be in place sooner rather than later.

It’s been reported here that the head coach and his boss have had a fractured relationship for some time. Insiders say Malzahn grew weary of Jacobs’ tendency to meddle in different situations, including the hiring of assistant coaches.

Now the Jacobs issue is going away, Malzahn is on stronger footing than he’s been in some time and the Tigers are an Iron Bowl win away from the SEC Championship Game.

All the coach and the school have to do sometime soon is renew their vows, but this being Auburn, things aren’t always as easy as they could be.

Gus Malzahn to Arkansas? Seriously? How about a new deal at Auburn?

The Georgia win put the Auburn coach on stronger footing than he’s been in some time. With only three years left on his contract, an extension seems in order.

Hosting the Warhawks!

ULM Week

Auburn has won every time against these guys.|
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody. Another Auburn football Saturday is fast approaching. In the past, the second week of November meant that the UGA Bulldogs were on the slate. In recent years, thanks to the 12-game schedule, Auburn has been able to schedule a lesser opponent, the week before the Iron Bowl. This year’s sacrificial lamb is Louisiana Monroe, we hope. Sometimes, these cupcake teams can give Auburn a scare.

     In the past decade, Auburn needed a miracle fumble recovery to keep Appy State at bay in 1999. A week later, Idaho roared back from a 30-7 deficit, and Auburn was carefully covering an onside kick. In 2011, Auburn needed a touchdown, an onside kick recovery, and another touchdown to secure a 42-38 win over Utah State. In 2012, the Tigers needed an overtime field goal to knock off Louisiana Monroe. In 2015, Auburn nearly, and probably should have lost to Jacksonville State in an overtime matchup.

     This week, Louisiana Monroe should have little chance. However, we will have to see what Tiger team shows up. We were expected to smash Mercer into the next hemisphere on homecoming week back in September, but instead were having to survive 5 turnovers, and pull away late for a 24-10 win. Monroe has nothing to lose in this one, while Auburn can only damage itself, with a lackluster performance in front of the playoff committee.

     So, what kind of challenge will ULM be this week? Frankly, I expect the Auburn offense to roll, even if the staff goes into a shell. Auburn has never been held below 30 points by this team. Even the worst Auburn team since World War II in 2012 managed 31 points on these guys. Auburn will score, and we will get to see some fireworks out of young folks like Kam Martin, Devan Barrett, Malik Willis, and so on. What is kind of worrisome is the offensive output of Monroe.

     These guys may be 4-5 overall, and unlikely to make a bowl game thanks to a hurricane cancellation against Florida State, but they do move the ball on offense. Offensive coordinator Matt Kubic is the real deal, and has the Warhawk attack humming. In October, ULM topped the 50-point plateau 3 times, beating Appy State 52-45, UL Lafayette 56-50, and Coastal Carolina 51-43 during that month. Auburn will not be able to sleepwalk through this game, on defense.

     Offensively, well, Auburn must simply take care of business and keep quarterback Jarrett Stidham upright. ULM’s defense has been pretty woeful, this year. The lowest point total they have held anyone to, is 27 points, against Texas State. The worst Auburn offense since the Earl Brown era in the late 1940s managed 31 points against Monroe, in 2012.

     Auburn has two meaningful goals, this week. Get out of this game with a win that doesn’t hurt the team’s standing in the playoff race, and not get anyone further injured. Me, I’d like to see some serious work on kick and punt coverage. Auburn’s offense should be able to score at will, well into the bench. What we need to do is kick it directly to all-Sun-Belt return man Marcus Green. This guy has been pretty scary for opponents, this season. Green has 3 kick return touchdowns this season, and is averaging 31.4 yards per return. He also is averaging 8.6 yards per return on punts. Auburn needs to kick to this guy, and let the coverage team work to get better.

The post Hosting the Warhawks! appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

USA Today’s Danny Sheridan: Gus Malzahn’s job is on the line – 247Sports


247Sports

USA Today's Danny Sheridan: Gus Malzahn's job is on the line
247Sports
Is Auburn Tigers football coach Gus Malzahn fighting for his job in the upcoming Iron Bowl against Alabama? USA Today sports analyst and sports betting handicapper Danny Sheridan says yes. "If Auburn fans want to accept mediocrity, and that to me is a …
Will Auburn trim Kerryon Johnson's carries against ULM?247Sports


Heisman hopeful Kerryon Johnson is making Auburn 'proud' with every stepSECcountry.com

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Auburn releases contract details for 3 first-year football assistants

Auburn released the contract details of the three first-year members of head coach Gus Malzahn’s football staff on Wednesday.

Contracts for Auburn’s 3 new football coaches heavy on retention – 247Sports


247Sports

Contracts for Auburn's 3 new football coaches heavy on retention
247Sports
AUBURN, Alabama — Auburn administrators took a different approach in contract negotiations with the three assistant coaches Gus Malzahn hired before the 2017 season. The contracts, ranging from two years for position coaches and three years for …
Auburn releases contracts of Chip Lindsey, Larry Porter, Greg BrownESPN



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Contracts released for Auburn football assistants Chip Lindsey, Larry Porter, Greg Brown

The buyout language in the contracts of two of the three members of Auburn's coaching staff hired last offseason is different from their colleagues, according to contracts the school released Wednesday after more than 10 months of requests.

The buyout language in the contracts of two of the three members of Auburn’s coaching staff hired last offseason is different from their colleagues, according to contracts the school released Wednesday after more than 10 months of requests.

Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, tight ends coach Larry Porter and secondary coach Greg Brown all earn base salaries of $250,000, but have differences in compensation for retention bonuses, personal endorsement rights and media rights and personal appearances and their respective buyouts if they chose to leave Auburn.

Lindsey earns an annual retention bonus of $100,000 at the conclusion of Auburn’s regular season, which would include the SEC Championship if the Tigers are playing. He earns $225,000 for both his endorsement and media rights, for a total of $800,000 in annual total compensation through Jan. 2020, not including performance bonuses for a bowl game or a discretionary bonus.

If Lindsey left Auburn other than to become a head coach in the FBS or FCS prior to the end of his contract, he would owe all remaining money owed to him through the remainder of his contract.

Porter eared an annual retention bonus of $50,000 on Nov. 1 and would do so again next year. He earns $75,000 for both his endorsement and media rights, for $450,000 in total annual compensation though Jan. 2019, not including performance bonuses. He would owe Auburn $55,000 if he left for another job before Jan. 31, 2018.

Brown earns an annual retention bonus of $25,000 on Dec. 31. He earns $62,500 for both his endorsement and media rights, for $425,000 in total annual compensation through Jan. 2019, not including performance bonuses. He would not owe Auburn any money if he left for another job.

The contracts of all three are fully guaranteed if Auburn were to fire them prior to the end of their contract, with mitigating clauses for any money they would earn elsewhere during the remainder of their contract term.

All three are also allotted a car allowance of $16,250 annually, which is standard for all of Auburn’s assistant football coaches.

Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand, wide receivers coach Kodi Burns and linebackers coach Travis Williams do not owe buyouts if they were to leave Auburn for any reason, according to their contracts released last year. Hand and Williams are under contract through Jan. 1, 2018 and Burns is under contract through Jan. 31, 2018.

Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton and defensive line coach Rodney Garner also do not include buyouts if they were to leave, according to their most recently released contracts, though the most recent copy of Horton’s contract expired in June.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele would own a deescalating buyout depending on the time at which he left, which is presently $750,000 but will drop to $500,000 after the 2017 regular season.

AL.com first requested the most current copies of contracts for Auburn’s football staff on Jan. 13. An Auburn spokeswoman said that while the contracts for Brown, Lindsey and Porter went into effect on Jan. 11, Jan. 20 and Feb. 10, respectively, all signatures were not completed until Wednesday.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Contracts released for Auburn football assistants Chip Lindsey, Larry Porter, Greg Brown

The buyout language in the contracts of two of the three members of Auburn’s coaching staff hired last offseason is different from their colleagues, according to contracts the school released Wednesday after more than 10 months of requests.

Did Gus Malzahn help sell play that produced Auburn’s 1st touchdown against Georgia?

Gus Malzahn can be heard shouting “get it to him” from the sideline on the pump-fake from Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Davis during Darius Slayton’s second-quarter touchdown.

Did Gus Malzahn help sell play that produced Auburn’s 1st touchdown against Georgia?

Gus Malzahn can be heard shouting "get it to him" from the sideline on the pump-fake from Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Davis during Darius Slayton's second-quarter touchdown.

Watch video

Gus Malzahn was coy when asked about Auburn’s first touchdown during its rout of Georgia, but the fifth-year coach couldn’t help but to crack a smile.

During Jarrett Stidham’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton in the second quarter of Auburn’s 40-17 win, Malzahn can be heard on the game broadcast shouting “get it to him!” as the play developed and Stidham pump-faked to Ryan Davis on a quick screen toward the Tigers’ sideline before delivering the strike to Slayton.

“First of all, I probably didn’t have anything to do with that,” Malzahn said, deflecting any credit for the play’s success. “I’m not going to take credit for that because — it was a great read, first of all. It was a great throw. And Darius made an unbelievable catch, to adjust to it, when you slow it down. They had a guy coming from the other side and he was reaching. It was one of those 50-50 balls that in a big game, you’ve got to have some of those.”

RELATED: Slayton’s long touchdown sparks Auburn offense against Georgia

Still, Malzahn couldn’t erase the smirk on his face when pressed about his shouting on the sideline, not far at all from where the fake to Davis was taking place.

When asked if his vocalization was an attempt to confuse the defense and sell the fake to Davis, Malzahn simply said “that’s a possibility,” before a bashful kudos to the media for catching on to the play.

“You guys don’t miss much,” Malzahn said. “I’m impressed. It’s impressive. Good stuff.”

For his part, Davis said Tuesday that he couldn’t hear Malzahn screaming from the sideline during the play but heard about it after the fact.


 

Either way, it seemed to work against Georgia in helping sell the fake, though the Tigers’ running two screns and a quick pass to the flats their three prior passes also set up the play.

As Stidham dropped back, Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker blanketed Davis near the line of scrimmage in anticipation of the screen and safety Dominick Sanders bit on the pump, rolling down toward Davis and opening up the deep part of the field for Slayton. Stidham set his feet and delivered the deep pass to Slayton, who reached back and impressively snagged the ball before rolling into the end zone for Auburn’s first touchdown of the game.

“That particular play really kind of opened things up for us because up to that point we’d kicked three field goals,” Malzahn said. “It’s kind of like, oh, you know, we had some opportunities missed. But when he hit that one it kind of opened everything up, gave us some breathing room. Probably after that play, just the confidence level offensively took off.”

Davis said Malzahn “probably” does that often during plays, shouting from the sideline to sell a decoy to throw off opposing defenses. Malzahn was a bit more diffident when asked if it’s something he does often.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, I coached high school for a long time. You do what you’ve got to do.”

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

Breaking down all of Auburn football’s postseason scenarios after UGA win – SECcountry.com


SECcountry.com

Breaking down all of Auburn football's postseason scenarios after UGA win
SECcountry.com
The committee wasn't even that harsh to Ohio State after it lost by 31 to Iowa. Auburn footballAuburn Tigers-Auburn-Gus Malzahn A loss to Alabama would sting, but Auburn's Gus Malzahn will still likely coach in back-to-back New Year's Six bowls. (Kevin C.
Alabama or Auburn? Man shot while arguing which team is betterUSA TODAY


ESPN analysts debate how Georgia would fare in a rematch with AuburnDawgNation
Man shot at motel amid argument over Alabama vs. Auburn footballThe Comeback
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Auburn Athletics Announces Iron Bowl RV Parking Plan – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site


Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn Athletics Announces Iron Bowl RV Parking Plan
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
19 at 4 p.m., and reopen for football permit RV parking at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22. At 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 24 campus will open for tailgating. Any flagging set-up prior to Friday at 6 a.m. will be removed by Auburn University public safety

Auburn will ‘find out a lot’ about itself at Charleston Classic

Auburn seems no closer to finding out the answers to any of the questions surrounding the men’s basketball program off the court. Some of the questions on the court, however, should gain more clarity this weekend.

Ranking the SEC after Week 11

Moves at the top, moves at the bottom, moves at supper time. When big wins are occurring, you can see moves at any time. But for real, this is the most restraint I’ve ever shown on this here site, but you’ll still NEVER GUESS WHERE I RANK AUBURN.

poll4

1. Alabama (10-0)

It’s almost like playing a decent team on the road is tougher than playing Fresno State, Colorado State, and Tennessee at home. Fun, isn’t it?

Last week: #1, beat Mississippi State 31-24

2. Auburn (8-2)

It took a lot to not put Auburn at #1 this week. I rank the teams based on who would beat who right now and I (and most people) think Auburn would beat Alabama right now. I just didn’t want to jinx anything.

Last week: #3, beat Georgia 40-17

3. Georgia (9-1)

It’s almost like playing a good team on the road is tougher than playing the SEC East each week. Fun, isn’t it?

Last week: #2, lost at Auburn 40-17

4. Mississippi State (7-3)

The Maroons aren’t bad this year. They really aren’t.

Last week: #4, lost to Alabama 31-24

5. LSU (7-3)

LSU is top-level mediocre. I think this is the highest level they will achieve with Orgeron in Baton Rouge. Yes, I know they beat Auburn.

Last week: #5, beat Arkansas 33-10

6. Texas A&M (6-4)

The Aggies feasted on a lower tier team to make the annual November slide appear to go away. It’s still there.

Last week: #6, beat New Mexico 55-14

7. Kentucky (7-3)

The Wildcats are going to lose their last two games and take some shine off this somewhat decent season. They have a 1-point loss to Florida and a 3-point loss to Ole Miss. They could easily be 9-1 right now.

Last week: #7, beat Vanderbilt 44-21

8. South Carolina (7-3)

The Gamecocks are 7-3, but they have hovered right above that mediocre line all season. I don’t see them moving away from that.

Last week: #8, beat Florida 28-20

9. Missouri (5-5)

Look at me moving Missouri up two weeks in a row. They are beating some bad teams, but they are scoring lots of points. And those bad teams have to be below them, right?

Last week: #12, beat Tennessee 50-17

10. Ole Miss (5-5)

Despite all their shortcomings, Ole Miss does have a bit of an offense.

Last week: #11, beat Louisiana-Lafayette 50-22

11. Vanderbilt (4-6)

Vandy is Vandy.

Last week: #9, lost to Kentucky 44-21

12. Arkansas (4-6)

The end is near for Bert.

Last week: #10, lost at LSU 33-10

13. Tennessee (4-6)

Butch Jones is gone and Tennessee will rise no higher than #13 in this ranking for the rest of the year. That’s a Coach Nutt guarantee.

Last week: #13, lost at Missouri 50-17

13. Florida (3-6)

The Gators hung with South Carolina a little more than I thought they would, but yeah, it’s bad.

Last week: #14, lost at South Carolina 28-20

Do you agree with these rankings? What did I get wrong? Leave yours in the comments.

Carlton Davis developing into ‘lockdown’ corner for Auburn

Carlton Davis has taken his play to another level and Auburn's defense has benefited enormously.

Carlton Davis has taken his play to another level and Auburn’s defense has benefited enormously.

Davis is keeping opposing wide receivers in check this season. The junior cornerback has 26 tackles with an interception, 10 pass breakups and a fumble recovery and could be putting himself in line for an early departure for the NFL.

“Carlton is a lockdown guy,” safety Stephen Roberts said. “He’s very physical. You can see it all through his — he’s been playing since he was a freshman. He kind of matured in the game a whole lot, the intensity that he has and that he brings to us.”

A look inside Davis’ numbers shows how his play has changed over the past three seasons.

A Freshman All-SEC honoree, Davis had 56 tackles with 11 passes defended, including three interceptions, in 2015. He had 46 tackles with 10 passes defended and no interceptions while playing through multiple ankle injuries and a shoulder injury last season.

While Davis’ tackles are down this season, that’s an indicator teams are avoiding throwing in his direction, and he still has 11 passes defended. Through the first seven games of the season, Davis allowed nine catches on 21 targets, according to CFB Film Room.

“I think the fact that he’s stayed healthy has really been the difference,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He was playing at a high level before he got banged up last year. This time last year we were hanging by a thread in a lot of areas. He was one of those guys that was just getting himself to the game. Now, he’s healthy and you can really see what he’s capable of doing.”

Opposing receivers have not had great success against Auburn this season and the few that have are rarely doing so when lined up against Davis.

Auburn is ranked 18th nationally in pass defense, allowing 181.1 yards per game, a drop of nearly 50 passing yards per game from last season.

“He brings that feisty edge,” safety Tray Matthews said. “He’s one of those elite, lockdown corners. We put him on the best receiver.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Carlton Davis developing into ‘lockdown’ corner for Auburn

Carlton Davis has taken his play to another level and Auburn's defense has benefited enormously.

Carlton Davis has taken his play to another level and Auburn’s defense has benefited enormously.

Davis is keeping opposing wide receivers in check this season. The junior cornerback has 26 tackles with an interception, 10 pass breakups and a fumble recovery and could be putting himself in line for an early departure for the NFL.

“Carlton is a lockdown guy,” safety Stephen Roberts said. “He’s very physical. You can see it all through his — he’s been playing since he was a freshman. He kind of matured in the game a whole lot, the intensity that he has and that he brings to us.”

A look inside Davis’ numbers shows how his play has changed over the past three seasons.

A Freshman All-SEC honoree, Davis had 56 tackles with 11 passes defended, including three interceptions, in 2015. He had 46 tackles with 10 passes defended and no interceptions while playing through multiple ankle injuries and a shoulder injury last season.

While Davis’ tackles are down this season, that’s an indicator teams are avoiding throwing in his direction, and he still has 11 passes defended. Through the first seven games of the season, Davis allowed nine catches on 21 targets, according to CFB Film Room.

“I think the fact that he’s stayed healthy has really been the difference,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He was playing at a high level before he got banged up last year. This time last year we were hanging by a thread in a lot of areas. He was one of those guys that was just getting himself to the game. Now, he’s healthy and you can really see what he’s capable of doing.”

Opposing receivers have not had great success against Auburn this season and the few that have are rarely doing so when lined up against Davis.

Auburn is ranked 18th nationally in pass defense, allowing 181.1 yards per game, a drop of nearly 50 passing yards per game from last season.

“He brings that feisty edge,” safety Tray Matthews said. “He’s one of those elite, lockdown corners. We put him on the best receiver.”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Carlton Davis developing into ‘lockdown’ corner for Auburn

Carlton Davis has taken his play to another level and Auburn’s defense has benefited enormously.

Alabama or Auburn? Man shot while arguing which team is better – USA TODAY


USA TODAY

Alabama or Auburn? Man shot while arguing which team is better
USA TODAY
Looks like you might want to be careful when getting into an argument over a rivalry football game. According to a report from AL.com, a man was shot Monday when he was arguing with another about which football team is better, Alabama or Auburn.
ESPN analyst Booger McFarland: 'I would take Auburn' if game was played todaySECcountry.com


Man shot at motel amid argument over Alabama vs. Auburn footballThe Comeback
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Auburn football podcast: Tigers land another solid commitment – SECcountry.com


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Auburn football podcast: Tigers land another solid commitment
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Welcome to The Podcast on the Plains, SEC Country's daily Auburn football podcast with host Zac Blackerby. On the show Wednesday, Blackerby is joined by SEC Country's Ben Wolk to discuss Auburn's latest commitment. On episode 68, Wolk just got back …

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‘Common sense’ will dictate how much Auburn uses Kerryon Johnson against ULM

Kerryon Johnson is averaging 27.33 rushing attempts the last six games.

Watch video

Kerryon Johnson has been Auburn’s bell cow this season, leading the SEC in rushing while helping lift the Tigers to a No. 6 rankings in the College Football Playoff rankings, with more on the line in the coming weeks.

With a winner-take-all Iron Bowl looming on Nov. 25, how Auburn handles Johnson this week in a tune-up against Sun Belt opponent ULM — 11 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2 — could be critical to Auburn’s postseason aspirations.

“Obviously, we’re going to use common sense, but our mindset is to get better,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

Durability questions have surrounded Johnson for much of his career. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery after his freshman season and missed the following spring. An ankle injury slowed him last season, and early this season he sustained a hamstring injury that caused him to miss two-plus games.

Since his return from that injury, though, Johnson has been on a tear for Auburn — a much-needed development for a backfield that has largely been without last season’s SEC leading rusher Kamryn Pettway. Johnson has eclipsed 100 yards in five of his last six games, including a 167-yard rushing performance against a top-tier Georgia defense in last weekend’s 40-17 unseating of the nation’s then-No. 1 team.

Johnson is averaging 27.33 rushing attempts during that span and had a career-high 32 carries against the Bulldogs, quieting a lot of the questions about his ability to be a featured workhorse back in the SEC.

“It’s starting to get cooler,” Malzahn said. “When it gets cooler, guys can carry the football more. KJ is a veteran guy. You ask him after every quarter, ‘How you holding up? How you feeling?’ And he is a mature guy enough that he’ll tell you the truth. He could have carried it probably another 10 times the other night. He’s just got whatever that is. Tre Mason was exactly the same. Some guys get stronger and he’s got that ability.”

While Johnson is unlikely to have that same workload this weekend against 35-point underdog ULM, Auburn doesn’t appear to have plans to hold him out in anticipation of an SEC West-deciding Iron Bowl next weekend.

Gus Malzahn: Kerryon Johnson ‘needs to be in the Heisman talk’

With Malzahn campaigning for Johnson to be in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy, it’s entirely likely the junior running back will have ample early opportunities to build upon his 1,000-yard, 17-touchdown stat line while Auburn tries to put ULM away early.

“Every game is different,” Malzahn said. “Every game unfolds differently…. “We need to play well. That’s our mindset. We’re going to progress like we’ve been doing. We’ll use common sense if we need to, but we’re going to play football. We’re going to get better.”

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

‘Common sense’ will dictate how much Auburn uses Kerryon Johnson against ULM

Kerryon Johnson is averaging 27.33 rushing attempts the last six games.

Auburn tries different approach to fix kickoff coverage woes

Last season, Daniel Carlson kicking the ball out of the end zone almost felt like a foregone conclusion. Just like death and taxes

Cam Newton earns ninth Player of the Week Award in NFL

For the ninth time in his NFL career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cam Newton earns ninth Player of the Week Award in NFL

For the ninth time in his NFL career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

For the ninth time in his NFL career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Newton won the award for Week 10 of the NFL’s 2017 season by completing 21-of-35 passes for 254 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and gained 95 yards on five rushing attempts in the Panthers’ 45-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Newton turned in third game in NFL history in which a player threw at least four TD passes and ran for at least 95 yards. It was his second such performance. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham was the first to do it in 1990.

Newton also became the first player to throw at least two touchdown passes in each of his first six appearances in the NFL’s Monday night game. The Panthers have a 5-1 record in those contests.

The other Player of the Week winners for Week 10 were New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, AFC Offensive; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn, NFC Defensive; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye, AFC Defensive; Los Angeles Rams place-kicker Greg Zuerlein, NFC Special Teams; and Patriots running back Dion Lewis, AFC Special Teams.  

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

Newton won the 2010 Heisman Trophy as Auburn‘s quarterback. The Tigers posted an undefeated record and won the BCS national championship that season.

Newton is the sixth player with Alabama football roots to earn Player of the Week honors during the NFL’s 2017 season.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson (Midfield, UAB) was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 2, Miami Dolphins place-kicker Cody Parkey (Auburn) was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 2, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (Alabama) was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 7, Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson (Alabama) was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 7 and Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby (Woodlawn, Auburn) was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 9.

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

Auburn not looking past ULM to winner-take-all Iron Bowl

"That's what you have to do, you know?"

The euphoria of beating the No. 1 team in the country will continue among Auburn fans, perhaps for quite some time if the Tigers manage to accomplish the feat yet again in the Iron Bowl.

But the team can’t bask in the glow of its dominant performance against Georgia and has to set its sights on ULM (4-5) this week.

Gus Malzahn has drilled home the importance of not having a “falloff” after such a big win.

“The reality is, that game is over, that game is behind us,” Malzahn said. “We can enjoy that after the year, we got to move forward. We’ve got Louisiana-Monroe, an opponent that is a very well-coached team. I have a lot of respect for their staff, a lot of veteran guys, won a lot of games.

“Offensively, they’re a top 20 offense. They’ve got skill guys that can flat out play. They’ve got one of the better kick returners in all of college football too. So when you watch their film they definitely wake you up.”

The Warhawks do rank in the top 20 in total offense and scoring, relying mostly on a top 30 passing attack led by Caleb Evans. He’s not the same quarterback ULM played in its 58-7 loss on the Plains last season.

Evans has spread the ball around, with three different receivers having over 400 yards, and his overall stat line is not that far off from Jarrett Stidham’s numbers this season, albeit against far less challenging competition.

Though the challenge the following week against No. 1 Alabama looms, Auburn is not going to spend time working ahead.

“I’ve grabbed that pot on the stove before; it will burn you,” defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said. “No. We (worked ahead for Alabama) in offseason, we did it some in fall camp. Limited knowledge of what was on the table, then in the off week we got some. This week it’s totally about having a dominant performance and repeat of last week in the stadium.”

Auburn should not stand much of a test against an opponent that ranks 127th in total defense and 120th in scoring. It may seem prudent to spend more time working on how to attack Alabama’s defense, but Auburn coaches insist that won’t happen this week.

“We’re focused on Louisiana Monroe; that’s it,” offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said. “That’s what you have to do, you know?”

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Auburn not looking past ULM to winner-take-all Iron Bowl

“That’s what you have to do, you know?”

Christian Miller’s dad has strong message for Iron Bowl fans: ‘Georgia’s not Alabama’

Former NFL linebacker Corey Miller talks Alabama defense, his son’s injury and what to expect from Alabama when it faces Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Christian Miller’s dad has strong message for Iron Bowl fans: ‘Georgia’s not Alabama’

Former NFL linebacker Corey Miller talks Alabama defense, his son's injury and what to expect from Alabama when it faces Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Corey Miller isn’t worried about the Alabama’s defense.

The former NFL linebacker and father to injured Alabama linebacker Christian Miller joined me and Lee Shirvanian on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5 on Wednesday to talk college football.

He didn’t disappoint.

“Alabama’s still Alabama,” Corey Miller said about the Tide’s 31-24 win last week against Mississippi State. “One thing I know, people now want to take Auburn (in the Iron Bowl), and I’ll say this – I talk to the guys and I talk to my son – these guys are going to be ready to play.”

The Tide gave up a very un-Tide-like 330 yards to the Bulldogs. The stat alone wouldn’t give fans pause for concern, unless, of course, the team only gives up 252 yards a game. And that’s with the Mississippi State game’s numbers averaged in.

“I’m not one ounce worried about Alabama,” said Corey Miller, who spent nine years in the NFL with the Giants and Vikings. “They are built to play on big stages, in a big atmosphere to take everyone’s best punch. Guess what? That team in Tuscaloosa, they are prepped for this type of work. I’m going to put people on notice right now. Alabama’s going to show up. The bus is going to roll in and they won’t be afraid of what they saw last week.”

What we saw last week was Auburn trash Georgia 40-17. Coach Gus Malzahn’s offense rolled up 488 yards while his defense shut down Sony Michel and Nick Chubb for a combined 46 yards, 233 below their season average.

“Georgia’s not Alabama,” said Corey Miller, who currently works WACH Fox 57 in South Carolina. “(Georgia coach Kirby Smart’s) doing a great job. He’s a friend of mine, but they are not Alabama. And Auburn’s going to find out what you saw last week is not what you will see in a week-and-a-half. I can promise you that. I’m not one bit afraid of what’s going to happen down there.”  

He did admit the Alabama defense “was tough to watch,” but it wasn’t just because of the injuries at linebacker.

“I’d say it was the defensive line,” he explained. “I like to call it dancing with the offensive line.”

The things that stuck out, Corey Miller said, were not getting off blocks, not penetrating and getting into the backfield and sticking to blocks.

He added the linebackers have “taken a hit.”

As far as Christian Miller’s biceps tear?

“He’s doing great,” Corey Miller said. “Rehab is going great. Really positive and working hard. He’s getting his strength back. We’re happy with where he is. He was set for a great year. … Again, some things are out of your control. Just have to keep the faith and trust everything is going to work out.”

(Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.)

2017 War Blogle Pick ’em Week 11 Results

Congrats to ecconnerjr for taking Week 11 of the 2017 War Blogle Pick ’em and winning a War Blogle sticker. Want any of that? Send me $3 and your address, or just win next week. But let’s be honest, it’s just easier to send three bucks.

I will be giving out an Auburn Hover Helmet to the overall leader at that end of the 15 weeks.

If you’re like me and don’t see your name, go check out the scoresheet (select Week 11).

If you missed joining last week, you can still join. It may be tough to win the whole thing, but you can still go for the win every 5 weeks.

 

 

Auburn’s top 2019 targets Bo Nix, Clay Webb describe watching Tigers dominate No. 1 team – SECcountry.com


SECcountry.com

Auburn's top 2019 targets Bo Nix, Clay Webb describe watching Tigers dominate No. 1 team
SECcountry.com
Welcome to SEC Country's daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It's Wednesday and SEC Country looks at Auburn's two biggest 2019 prospects who attended the Georgia game.

Daniel Carlson selected as finalist for Pop Warner Award – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site


Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Daniel Carlson selected as finalist for Pop Warner Award
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson was selected as one of six finalists for the annual Pop Warner College Football Award on Wednesday. The award recognizes a graduating senior who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom and in his community, …

and more »

Auburn to stream Iron Bowl on video board inside Auburn Arena

For fans who don’t have tickets for the Iron Bowl, but would like to enjoy the tailgating and campus atmosphere, the Auburn Athletics Department has announced it will show the game feed on the Auburn Arena video board.

Auburn to Stream Iron Bowl in Auburn Arena – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site


Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn to Stream Iron Bowl in Auburn Arena
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
AUBURN—For fans who don't have tickets for the Iron Bowl, but would like to enjoy the tailgating and campus atmosphere, the Auburn Athletics Department has announced it will show the game feed on the Auburn Arena video board. The video board will …

and more »

Auburn offensive line continues to improve despite constant turnover

It took Auburn a long time to settle on a starting offensive line this fall. Even longer than it took for the team to name Jarrett Stidham the starting quarterback.

Auburn football: Tigers proving to be top team with a top coach – SECcountry.com


SECcountry.com

Auburn football: Tigers proving to be top team with a top coach
SECcountry.com
Auburn football is the No. 1 topic in the War Eagle Wakeup every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Tigers' sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Auburn football

and more »

CFP Selection Committee’s Kirby Hocutt explains separation between No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 6 Auburn

Kirby Hocutt on Gus Malzahn's team: "I would say Auburn in the eyes of the Selection Committee is the best two-loss team at this point in the season."

Auburn’s dominating 40-17 win against previously top-ranked Georgia on Saturday has sent the Tigers to No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoffs rankings.

But what does the committee think of two-loss Auburn right behind undefeated Wisconsin?

That question was asked of CFP Selection Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt on Tuesday night after the poll was released.

“There was separation between 5 Wisconsin and 6 Auburn,” Hocutt said. “Very impressed with Auburn with their convincing win not only against Georgia but Mississippi State on their resume. I think I’ve said before, Auburn being a physical team on both sides of the ball, I would say Auburn in the eyes of the Selection Committee is the best two-loss team at this point in the season.

“Wisconsin, solid win over Iowa, who beat a very good top-10 ranked Ohio State a week earlier. Wisconsin is a team that continues to impress the Selection Committee. They’re top 10 in the country in both offensive and defensive 3rd down efficiencies. Only one team has scored more than two touchdowns against Wisconsin.

“You know, there was separation between No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 6 Auburn.”

Hocutt was asked how different it is to talk about a team with multiple losses when it comes to the top 4.

Auburn lost to Clemson 14-6 on Sept. 9, then fell to LSU 27-23 on Oct. 14.

“No, it doesn’t (change),” Hocutt explained. “Our charge is to rank the top 25 and the four best teams for inclusion into the semifinals. You know, anything can change weekend to weekend, and it does, and we’ll continue to look at each component of a team’s resume as we compile our weekly rankings. But you know, if that is what presents itself here in three weeks, then the committee will handle it at that time. But it won’t affect how we — the discussions we have or ultimately how we rank these teams.”

(Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.)

CFP Selection Committee’s Kirby Hocutt explains separation between No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 6 Auburn

Kirby Hocutt on Gus Malzahn’s team: “I would say Auburn in the eyes of the Selection Committee is the best two-loss team at this point in the season.”

Former Tulsa star Brennan Marion following mentor’s path with Malzahn-spiced offense

Brennan Marion, a record-setting receiver under Gus Malzahn at Tulsa, has helped spur a major turnaround at FCS program Howard with a Malzahn-influenced offense and Caylin Newton, Cam's little brother, at quarterback.

Brennan Marion wanted to do everything like Gus Malzahn.

After landing his first head coaching gig at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High in Vallejo, Calif., Marion, a former record-setting receiver for Malzahn at Tulsa, tried to emulate everything Malzahn did that made the Golden Hurricane one of the most explosive and prolific offenses in the nation.

“When I first started coaching, I called the same plays, I called them the same names,” Marion told AL.com. “I was like, man, I want to be Coach Malzahn. That’s how I started off.”

Marion has since let go of trying to emulate a man he described as a father figure in his life, but in his first year as the offensive coordinator at FCS program Howard, Malzahn’s influence can still be seen in Marion’s offense as he helps lead a resurgent Bison program that sits at 7-3 heading into its regular-season finale this weekend.

At Howard, Marion has put together an offense that ranks 32nd in the FCS in scoring (31.2 points per game), 19th in total offense (449 yards per game), 15th in rushing offense (221.4 yards per game) and 39th in passing offense (227.6) as the Bison have enjoyed a considerable turnaround under first-year head coach Mike London after winning only eight games combined the previous three seasons.

The Bison, who had one of the worst scoring offenses in FCS last season, have done it with the help of Marion and freshman quarterback Caylin Newton, the little brother of Auburn Heisman winner Cam Newton, while running an offense heavily influenced by Malzahn’s up-tempo philosophy.

“We still have some of the same tempo principles, like taking the shots down the field and some of the trick plays and stuff, but the way we run our plays and stuff is different,” Marion said. “It definitely has some of the same principles that we used, because when Gus was at Tulsa, we were the No. 1 offense like in the history of college football, so there’s a lot of good stuff in there.”


 

The Golden Hurricane weren’t the most prolific offense in NCAA history, but they did lead the nation in total offense in 2007 and 2008 with 543.9 yards and 569.9 yards per game, respectively. Tulsa also ranked second in scoring offense in 2008 at 47.2 points per game.

Marion didn’t get into specifics about the trick plays and particular play designs he utilizes now — a guarded approach reminiscent of his former coach — but conceded that a lot of the same tried and true trick plays that Malzahn has carried with him since his days as a high school coach in Arkansas have made their way to Howard’s playbook.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Marion said. “It works.”

Where Marion’s offense differs from Malzahn’s is in the formations. Much like Malzahn’s offense and Hurry-Up, No-Huddle philosophy was innovative in its own right during Malzahn’s ascension through the coaching ranks, Marion has brought his own innovation to Howard.

The most peculiar of which is a formation where the Bison field two running backs lined up side-by-side next to the quarterback out of the shotgun. Because not many teams have seen that before, particularly at the FCS level, it’s a tweak that’s helped make Howard successful this season with Caylin Newton running the show on the field.

Caylin Newton stepping out of big brother Cam’s shadow at Howard

Though the formation is different, many of the plays Howard runs out of it are the same ones Malzahn used at Tulsa where Marion set NCAA single-season and career records as a receiver.

“The key is having good players, but also scheme-wise, it’s evolved just from the guys I’ve worked with, I took their thoughts and some of the stuff they’ve done and tweaked it to what I like,” Marion said. “The way our formations set up, I just tweak plays that I’ve seen and liked.”

Marion first began developing his own flavor on Malzahn’s tempo-based offense during his first season at St. Patrick-St. Vincent in 2013, but the defining moment in his evolution as an offensive-minded coach came a year later at Waynesboro (Pa.) High.

Before the 2014 season, Marion visited Malzahn and then-Tigers offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee in Auburn to run some ideas by them. He explained to Malzahn and Lashlee what he wanted to do offensively, and both agreed that it could work because it was something different. Waynesboro, which went 0-10 the year before Marion’s arrival, went 6-4 that season while averaging 36.6 points and more than 500 yards per game with largely the same roster as the year prior.

Marion first began developing his own flavor of Malzahn’s tempo-based offense during his first season at St. Patrick-St. Vincent in 2013, where the Bruins went 5-6 overall with a playoff berth after going 1-9 the season before he arrived. The following year, he moved back closer to his hometown of Pittsburgh and took over a program at Waynesboro (Pa.) High that went 0-10 the year prior.

Before the start of his first year at Waynesboro, Marion visited Auburn and ran some ideas by Malzahn and then-offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Marion explained to Malzahn and Lashlee what he wanted to do with his offense, and both agreed that it would work because it was something different. That season, Waynesboro went 6-4 and averaged more than 500 yards and 36.6 points per game under Marion with largely the same roster from the season before.

Marion described it as a defining moment in his evolution as an offensive-minded coach.

“I kind of knew that now when I get a chance in college, to be a coordinator in college, this will have a chance to work,” he said.

Since then, Marion’s offense has further evolved — he has dubbed it “Go-Go,” in the same vein as the popular D.C. brand of music — while blending concepts from other coaches who have influenced him. There’s Malzahn, of course, but also Memphis coach Mike Norvell, who was Marion’s receivers coach at Tulsa, as well as Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long.

The results have been promising in his first year at Howard, where the Bison pulled off the largest point-spread upset in college football history during their 43-40 opening-week win at UNLV.

“He’s going to push any player to their highest potential,” said Caylin Newton, who scored the go-ahead touchdown against UNLV. “If he sees good in you, he’s going to squeeze it all out of you. He’ll push you past your limits that you thought you could never get to before.

Afterward the win, Malzahn sent a congratulatory text to Marion and Newton.

“He’s earned everything he’s ever gotten and I like that,” Malzahn said of Marion. “I like guys that do that. This is his moment and he’s seizing his moment.”

That resonated with Marion, who has looked up to Malzahn since Tulsa first garnered interest in him out of De Anza College. He credits the Auburn coach with helping him “see life in a different element” after a rough upbringing in Pittsburgh.


 

After Marion’s NFL career was cut short due to three ACL injuries in a two-year span, he pursued a career in coaching and said Malzahn picked up the phone at every opportunity to provide a reference or speak on Marion’s behalf. It’s part of the reason Marion aimed to emulate his mentor at first before soon realizing that wasn’t going to be practical.

“I just wanted to become the best version of myself,” Marion said. “Coach Malzahn and Brennan Marion are two completely different people. We come from two different worlds… We got different life stories and different things. I just try to be the best version of myself. He’s really had an impact on me as a mentor, friend, father figure, that type of deal to me. I definitely will always look up to him, but not trying to be him.

“I see a lot of guys trying to be exactly like him, but you can’t be him. You can only be yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do now.”

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

Former Tulsa star Brennan Marion following mentor’s path with Malzahn-spiced offense

Brennan Marion, a record-setting receiver under Gus Malzahn at Tulsa, has helped spur a major turnaround at FCS program Howard with a Malzahn-influenced offense and Caylin Newton, Cam's little brother, at quarterback.

Brennan Marion wanted to do everything like Gus Malzahn.

After landing his first head coaching gig at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High in Vallejo, Calif., Marion, a former record-setting receiver for Malzahn at Tulsa, tried to emulate everything Malzahn did that made the Golden Hurricane one of the most explosive and prolific offenses in the nation.

“When I first started coaching, I called the same plays, I called them the same names,” Marion told AL.com. “I was like, man, I want to be Coach Malzahn. That’s how I started off.”

Marion has since let go of trying to emulate a man he described as a father figure in his life, but in his first year as the offensive coordinator at FCS program Howard, Malzahn’s influence can still be seen in Marion’s offense as he helps lead a resurgent Bison program that sits at 7-3 heading into its regular-season finale this weekend.

At Howard, Marion has put together an offense that ranks 32nd in the FCS in scoring (31.2 points per game), 19th in total offense (449 yards per game), 15th in rushing offense (221.4 yards per game) and 39th in passing offense (227.6) as the Bison have enjoyed a considerable turnaround under first-year head coach Mike London after winning only eight games combined the previous three seasons.

The Bison, who had one of the worst scoring offenses in FCS last season, have done it with the help of Marion and freshman quarterback Caylin Newton, the little brother of Auburn Heisman winner Cam Newton, while running an offense heavily influenced by Malzahn’s up-tempo philosophy.

“We still have some of the same tempo principles, like taking the shots down the field and some of the trick plays and stuff, but the way we run our plays and stuff is different,” Marion said. “It definitely has some of the same principles that we used, because when Gus was at Tulsa, we were the No. 1 offense like in the history of college football, so there’s a lot of good stuff in there.”


 

The Golden Hurricane weren’t the most prolific offense in NCAA history, but they did lead the nation in total offense in 2007 and 2008 with 543.9 yards and 569.9 yards per game, respectively. Tulsa also ranked second in scoring offense in 2008 at 47.2 points per game.

Marion didn’t get into specifics about the trick plays and particular play designs he utilizes now — a guarded approach reminiscent of his former coach — but conceded that a lot of the same tried and true trick plays that Malzahn has carried with him since his days as a high school coach in Arkansas have made their way to Howard’s playbook.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Marion said. “It works.”

Where Marion’s offense differs from Malzahn’s is in the formations. Much like Malzahn’s offense and Hurry-Up, No-Huddle philosophy was innovative in its own right during Malzahn’s ascension through the coaching ranks, Marion has brought his own innovation to Howard.

The most peculiar of which is a formation where the Bison field two running backs lined up side-by-side next to the quarterback out of the shotgun. Because not many teams have seen that before, particularly at the FCS level, it’s a tweak that’s helped make Howard successful this season with Caylin Newton running the show on the field.

Caylin Newton stepping out of big brother Cam’s shadow at Howard

Though the formation is different, many of the plays Howard runs out of it are the same ones Malzahn used at Tulsa where Marion set NCAA single-season and career records as a receiver.

“The key is having good players, but also scheme-wise, it’s evolved just from the guys I’ve worked with, I took their thoughts and some of the stuff they’ve done and tweaked it to what I like,” Marion said. “The way our formations set up, I just tweak plays that I’ve seen and liked.”

Marion first began developing his own flavor on Malzahn’s tempo-based offense during his first season at St. Patrick-St. Vincent in 2013, but the defining moment in his evolution as an offensive-minded coach came a year later at Waynesboro (Pa.) High.

Before the 2014 season, Marion visited Malzahn and then-Tigers offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee in Auburn to run some ideas by them. He explained to Malzahn and Lashlee what he wanted to do offensively, and both agreed that it could work because it was something different. Waynesboro, which went 0-10 the year before Marion’s arrival, went 6-4 that season while averaging 36.6 points and more than 500 yards per game with largely the same roster as the year prior.

Marion first began developing his own flavor of Malzahn’s tempo-based offense during his first season at St. Patrick-St. Vincent in 2013, where the Bruins went 5-6 overall with a playoff berth after going 1-9 the season before he arrived. The following year, he moved back closer to his hometown of Pittsburgh and took over a program at Waynesboro (Pa.) High that went 0-10 the year prior.

Before the start of his first year at Waynesboro, Marion visited Auburn and ran some ideas by Malzahn and then-offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Marion explained to Malzahn and Lashlee what he wanted to do with his offense, and both agreed that it would work because it was something different. That season, Waynesboro went 6-4 and averaged more than 500 yards and 36.6 points per game under Marion with largely the same roster from the season before.

Marion described it as a defining moment in his evolution as an offensive-minded coach.

“I kind of knew that now when I get a chance in college, to be a coordinator in college, this will have a chance to work,” he said.

Since then, Marion’s offense has further evolved — he has dubbed it “Go-Go,” in the same vein as the popular D.C. brand of music — while blending concepts from other coaches who have influenced him. There’s Malzahn, of course, but also Memphis coach Mike Norvell, who was Marion’s receivers coach at Tulsa, as well as Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long.

The results have been promising in his first year at Howard, where the Bison pulled off the largest point-spread upset in college football history during their 43-40 opening-week win at UNLV.

“He’s going to push any player to their highest potential,” said Caylin Newton, who scored the go-ahead touchdown against UNLV. “If he sees good in you, he’s going to squeeze it all out of you. He’ll push you past your limits that you thought you could never get to before.

Afterward the win, Malzahn sent a congratulatory text to Marion and Newton.

“He’s earned everything he’s ever gotten and I like that,” Malzahn said of Marion. “I like guys that do that. This is his moment and he’s seizing his moment.”

That resonated with Marion, who has looked up to Malzahn since Tulsa first garnered interest in him out of De Anza College. He credits the Auburn coach with helping him “see life in a different element” after a rough upbringing in Pittsburgh.


 

After Marion’s NFL career was cut short due to three ACL injuries in a two-year span, he pursued a career in coaching and said Malzahn picked up the phone at every opportunity to provide a reference or speak on Marion’s behalf. It’s part of the reason Marion aimed to emulate his mentor at first before soon realizing that wasn’t going to be practical.

“I just wanted to become the best version of myself,” Marion said. “Coach Malzahn and Brennan Marion are two completely different people. We come from two different worlds… We got different life stories and different things. I just try to be the best version of myself. He’s really had an impact on me as a mentor, friend, father figure, that type of deal to me. I definitely will always look up to him, but not trying to be him.

“I see a lot of guys trying to be exactly like him, but you can’t be him. You can only be yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do now.”

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

Former Tulsa star Brennan Marion following mentor’s path with Malzahn-spiced offense

Brennan Marion, a record-setting receiver under Gus Malzahn at Tulsa, has helped spur a major turnaround at FCS program Howard with a Malzahn-influenced offense and Caylin Newton, Cam's little brother, at quarterback.

Brennan Marion wanted to do everything like Gus Malzahn.

After landing his first head coaching gig at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High in Vallejo, Calif., Marion, a former record-setting receiver for Malzahn at Tulsa, tried to emulate everything Malzahn did that made the Golden Hurricane one of the most explosive and prolific offenses in the nation.

“When I first started coaching, I called the same plays, I called them the same names,” Marion told AL.com. “I was like, man, I want to be Coach Malzahn. That’s how I started off.”

Marion has since let go of trying to emulate a man he described as a father figure in his life, but in his first year as the offensive coordinator at FCS program Howard, Malzahn’s influence can still be seen in Marion’s offense as he helps lead a resurgent Bison program that sits at 7-3 heading into its regular-season finale this weekend.

At Howard, Marion has put together an offense that ranks 32nd in the FCS in scoring (31.2 points per game), 19th in total offense (449 yards per game), 15th in rushing offense (221.4 yards per game) and 39th in passing offense (227.6) as the Bison have enjoyed a considerable turnaround under first-year head coach Mike London after winning only eight games combined the previous three seasons.

The Bison, who had one of the worst scoring offenses in FCS last season, have done it with the help of Marion and freshman quarterback Caylin Newton, the little brother of Auburn Heisman winner Cam Newton, while running an offense heavily influenced by Malzahn’s up-tempo philosophy.

“We still have some of the same tempo principles, like taking the shots down the field and some of the trick plays and stuff, but the way we run our plays and stuff is different,” Marion said. “It definitely has some of the same principles that we used, because when Gus was at Tulsa, we were the No. 1 offense like in the history of college football, so there’s a lot of good stuff in there.”


 

The Golden Hurricane weren’t the most prolific offense in NCAA history, but they did lead the nation in total offense in 2007 and 2008 with 543.9 yards and 569.9 yards per game, respectively. Tulsa also ranked second in scoring offense in 2008 at 47.2 points per game.

Marion didn’t get into specifics about the trick plays and particular play designs he utilizes now — a guarded approach reminiscent of his former coach — but conceded that a lot of the same tried and true trick plays that Malzahn has carried with him since his days as a high school coach in Arkansas have made their way to Howard’s playbook.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Marion said. “It works.”

Where Marion’s offense differs from Malzahn’s is in the formations. Much like Malzahn’s offense and Hurry-Up, No-Huddle philosophy was innovative in its own right during Malzahn’s ascension through the coaching ranks, Marion has brought his own innovation to Howard.

The most peculiar of which is a formation where the Bison field two running backs lined up side-by-side next to the quarterback out of the shotgun. Because not many teams have seen that before, particularly at the FCS level, it’s a tweak that’s helped make Howard successful this season with Caylin Newton running the show on the field.

Caylin Newton stepping out of big brother Cam’s shadow at Howard

Though the formation is different, many of the plays Howard runs out of it are the same ones Malzahn used at Tulsa where Marion set NCAA single-season and career records as a receiver.

“The key is having good players, but also scheme-wise, it’s evolved just from the guys I’ve worked with, I took their thoughts and some of the stuff they’ve done and tweaked it to what I like,” Marion said. “The way our formations set up, I just tweak plays that I’ve seen and liked.”

Marion first began developing his own flavor on Malzahn’s tempo-based offense during his first season at St. Patrick-St. Vincent in 2013, but the defining moment in his evolution as an offensive-minded coach came a year later at Waynesboro (Pa.) High.

Before the 2014 season, Marion visited Malzahn and then-Tigers offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee in Auburn to run some ideas by them. He explained to Malzahn and Lashlee what he wanted to do offensively, and both agreed that it could work because it was something different. Waynesboro, which went 0-10 the year before Marion’s arrival, went 6-4 that season while averaging 36.6 points and more than 500 yards per game with largely the same roster as the year prior.

Marion first began developing his own flavor of Malzahn’s tempo-based offense during his first season at St. Patrick-St. Vincent in 2013, where the Bruins went 5-6 overall with a playoff berth after going 1-9 the season before he arrived. The following year, he moved back closer to his hometown of Pittsburgh and took over a program at Waynesboro (Pa.) High that went 0-10 the year prior.

Before the start of his first year at Waynesboro, Marion visited Auburn and ran some ideas by Malzahn and then-offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Marion explained to Malzahn and Lashlee what he wanted to do with his offense, and both agreed that it would work because it was something different. That season, Waynesboro went 6-4 and averaged more than 500 yards and 36.6 points per game under Marion with largely the same roster from the season before.

Marion described it as a defining moment in his evolution as an offensive-minded coach.

“I kind of knew that now when I get a chance in college, to be a coordinator in college, this will have a chance to work,” he said.

Since then, Marion’s offense has further evolved — he has dubbed it “Go-Go,” in the same vein as the popular D.C. brand of music — while blending concepts from other coaches who have influenced him. There’s Malzahn, of course, but also Memphis coach Mike Norvell, who was Marion’s receivers coach at Tulsa, as well as Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long.

The results have been promising in his first year at Howard, where the Bison pulled off the largest point-spread upset in college football history during their 43-40 opening-week win at UNLV.

“He’s going to push any player to their highest potential,” said Caylin Newton, who scored the go-ahead touchdown against UNLV. “If he sees good in you, he’s going to squeeze it all out of you. He’ll push you past your limits that you thought you could never get to before.

Afterward the win, Malzahn sent a congratulatory text to Marion and Newton.

“He’s earned everything he’s ever gotten and I like that,” Malzahn said of Marion. “I like guys that do that. This is his moment and he’s seizing his moment.”

That resonated with Marion, who has looked up to Malzahn since Tulsa first garnered interest in him out of De Anza College. He credits the Auburn coach with helping him “see life in a different element” after a rough upbringing in Pittsburgh.


 

After Marion’s NFL career was cut short due to three ACL injuries in a two-year span, he pursued a career in coaching and said Malzahn picked up the phone at every opportunity to provide a reference or speak on Marion’s behalf. It’s part of the reason Marion aimed to emulate his mentor at first before soon realizing that wasn’t going to be practical.

“I just wanted to become the best version of myself,” Marion said. “Coach Malzahn and Brennan Marion are two completely different people. We come from two different worlds… We got different life stories and different things. I just try to be the best version of myself. He’s really had an impact on me as a mentor, friend, father figure, that type of deal to me. I definitely will always look up to him, but not trying to be him.

“I see a lot of guys trying to be exactly like him, but you can’t be him. You can only be yourself. That’s what I’m trying to do now.”

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

Former Tulsa star Brennan Marion following mentor’s path with Malzahn-spiced offense

Brennan Marion, a record-setting receiver under Gus Malzahn at Tulsa, has helped spur a major turnaround at FCS program Howard with a Malzahn-influenced offense and Caylin Newton, Cam’s little brother, at quarterback.

ESPN analysts debate how Georgia would fare in a rematch with Auburn – DawgNation


DawgNation

ESPN analysts debate how Georgia would fare in a rematch with Auburn
DawgNation
Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.
SEC Week 11 power rankings: Auburn makes a statementESPN (blog)


Auburn's most dominant offensive line is its 7th iteration247Sports
Practice Report: Observations from the second UGA practice before Kentucky gameRed and Black

all 135 news articles »

One down, three to go

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Saturday afternoon was overwhelming. 

Throughout the entire week leading up to the game, I was preparing myself for a loss. I had seen this game play out in front of me countless times. Gus Malzahn and big games just typically don’t add up to victories very often.

Following the LSU game earlier this year, many fans called for Coach Malzahn’s job. This segment of fans felt that it was just unacceptable for a team to be up 20 points and find a way to lose. They were right. There was also a segment of fans that felt that Gus should be given time and have the opportunity to finish out the season. Because who knows, maybe he could turn things around and give us a season to remember. They were right, as well.

At certain points of the season, both of these groups—the “fire Gus” and the “keep Gus” camps—had completely valid points to back up their base arguments. 

But whether you’d like to admit it or not, last Saturday’s game saved Gus Malzahn’s job. Fans were tired of losing this game. Auburn was 2–9 against Georgia since 2006 with an average score of 32–18 in the Dawgs’ favor. This year, that narrative shifted.

It was the most dominant performance I have ever seen from an Auburn team. Following the opening drive of the game, the defense woke up and played lights out, holding the Dawgs to just 46 rushing yards—139 yards lower than their previous season low. On offense, the Tigers were versatile with play calling and refused to take the foot off the gas pedal for 60 minutes against a quality defense. 

Long gone is the offensive line that allowed 11 sacks to Clemson. And for the time being, it looks like Coach Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey have finally found some middle ground in the play calling. There wasn’t a team in the country that could have won on the Plains last Saturday.

This year, the Iron Bowl has suddenly become a winner-takes-all matchup. And we all know what happened the last time this game had these types of stakes.

Get the job done this weekend, because No. 1 looms in the distance for the second time.

The post One down, three to go appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

State players dominate top NFL runs of Week 10

If you're looking for outstanding NFL ball-carrying, you came to the right state. Four of the top five runs from Week 10 of the NFL's 2017 season were turned in by players with Alabama football roots.

If you’re looking for outstanding NFL ball-carrying, you came to the right state. Four of the top five runs from Week 10 of the NFL’s 2017 season were turned in by players with Alabama football roots.

The runs included former Alabama standouts Kenyan Drake (at No. 5 with a 66-yard touchdown run for the Miami Dolphins) and Mark Ingram (at No. 3 with a 25-yard run for the New Orleans Saints) and former Auburn standouts Cam Newton (at No. 4 with a 69-yard run for the Carolina Panthers) and Corey Grant (at No. 1 with a 56-yard touchdown run for the Jacksonville Jaguars).

The runs were part of strong games for Ingram and Newton, who both landed in the top five performers for Week 10.

Newton threw for 254 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 95 yards on five carries in Carolina’s 45-21 victory over the Dolphins.

Ingram ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries in New Orleans’ 47-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Grant’s long run on a fake punt also appears as one of the top 15 plays of Week 10, and Newton appears here, too, but for one of his TD passes.

A state player also made it into the top 5 catches of Week 10, with former Alabama standout Julio Jones‘ 24-yard grab for the Atlanta Falcons at No. 5.

Grant and Jones also were prep stars in Alabama at Opelika and Foley, respectively.

NFL Network also chose the top five throws of Week 10 and gave five plays the freeD treatment.

Kenyan Drake,Kawann ShortMiami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake breaks loose during an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017.  

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

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

State players dominate top NFL runs of Week 10

If you’re looking for outstanding NFL ball-carrying, you came to the right state. Four of the top five runs from Week 10 of the NFL’s 2017 season were turned in by players with Alabama football roots.

Pro Bowl ballot includes 57 players with Alabama football roots

Fifty-seven players with Alabama football roots are on the ballot for the NFL's Pro Bowl. The ballot was released on Tuesday for the start of fan voting for the annual all-star game.

Fifty-seven players with Alabama football roots are on the ballot for the NFL’s Pro Bowl. The ballot was released on Tuesday for the start of fan voting for the annual all-star game.

Online fan voting will be open through Dec. 14.

Fans also can vote via Twitter in a new feature for this season’s Pro Bowl. In the Direct Message Voting Experience, fans can vote using entry cards tweeted from all 32 NFL team accounts and by visiting the @NFL profile page. The entry cards will initiate a private “Direct Message,” allowing fans to select a position group or search for a player or team to start voting.

From Dec. 7 through 14, which is the final week of fan balloting, votes also will be able to be cast by tweeting the first and last name of a player or the player’s Twitter handle with the hashtag #ProBowlVote.

The 44-player rosters for the AFC and NFC teams will be determined by the votes of fans, coaches and players, with each group’s results counting one-third in the selection process.

The Pro Bowl rosters will be announced at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 on NFL Network.

The Pro Bowl will be played at 2 p.m. CST Jan. 28 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. ESPN will televise the game.

The ballot includes 25 players who played at Alabama, nine from Auburn, three from Troy, two apiece from Samford and West Alabama and one each from Alabama StateNorth Alabama and UAB.

The ballot includes 30 players from Alabama high schools.

The dean of the state’s active Pro Bowlers is Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The former Athens High School standout has been selected for six Pro Bowls.

One state player appears on the ballot twice. Former West Alabama standout Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs is listed with the wide receivers and return specialists.

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

The players from Alabama high schools and colleges on this season’s Pro Bowl ballot include:

Quarterbacks: Cam Newton (Auburn), Panthers; Philip Rivers (Athens), Chargers; Jameis Winston (Hueytown), Buccaneers.

Running backs: Ameer Abdullah (Homewood), Lions; Isaiah Crowell (Alabama State), Browns; Kenyan Drake (Alabama), Dolphins; Derrick Henry (Alabama), Titans; Jordan Howard (Gardendale, UAB), Bears; Mark Ingram (Alabama), Saints; Eddie Lacy (Alabama), Seahawks.

Wide receivers: Amari Cooper (Alabama), Raiders; Tyreek Hill (West Alabama), Chiefs; Julio Jones (Foley, Alabama), Falcons; Ricardo Louis (Auburn), Browns; Jordan Matthews (Madison Academy), Bills.

Fullbacks: Jay Prosch (UMS-Wright, Auburn), Texans.

Tight ends: O.J. Howard (Autauga Academy, Alabama), Buccaneers.

Offensive tackles: Shon Coleman (Auburn), Browns; Cam Robinson (Alabama), Jaguars; Andre Smith (Huffman, Alabama), Jaguars.

Guards: James Carpenter (Alabama), Jets; D.J. Fluker (Foley, Alabama), Giants.

Centers: Rodney Hudson (B.C. Rain), Raiders; Ben Jones (Bibb County), Titans; Ryan Kelly (Alabama), Colts.

Defensive ends: Mario Addison (Tarrant, Troy), Panthers; Trey Flowers (Columbia), Patriots; Michael Johnson (Dallas County), Bengals.

Defensive tackles: Steve McLendon (Carroll-Ozark, Troy), Jets; Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford), Ravens; Jarran Reed (Alabama), Seahawks; A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama), Lions; Pat Sims (Auburn), Bengals; Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama), Giants.

Inside linebackers: Kwon Alexander (Oxford), Buccaneers; Mark Barron (St. Paul’s, Alabama), Rams; Zach Cunningham (Pinson Valley), Texans; Karlos Dansby (Woodlawn, Auburn), Cardinals; Reuben Foster (Auburn High, Alabama), 49ers; C.J. Mosley (Theodore, Alabama), Ravens; Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones, Alabama), Chiefs.

Outside linebackers: Dee Ford (St. Clair County, Auburn), Chiefs.

Cornerbacks: James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford), Panthers; Malcolm Butler (West Alabama), Patriots; Kareem Jackson (Alabama), Texans; Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama), Giants; Dre Kirkpatrick (Gadsden City, Alabama), Bengals.

Strong safeties: Landon Collins (Alabama), Giants.

Free safeties: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) Packers; Eddie Jackson (Alabama), Bears; Darian Stewart (Lee-Huntsville), Broncos.

Place-kickers: Cody Parkey (Auburn), Dolphins.

Return specialists: Tyreek Hill (West Alabama), Chiefs; Chester Rogers (Lee-Huntsville), Colts; ArDarius Stewart (Fultondale, Alabama), Jets.

Special teamers: Neiko Thorpe (Auburn), Seahawks; Brynden Trawick (Troy), Titans.

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

Pro Bowl ballot includes 57 players with Alabama football roots

Fifty-seven players with Alabama football roots are on the ballot for the NFL’s Pro Bowl. The ballot was released on Tuesday for the start of fan voting for the annual all-star game.

Watch Cam Newton wake drowsy reporter, give a ‘War Eagle’ for win over Georgia

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was feeling good after a 45-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was feeling good after a 45-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

And why shouldn’t he have been? The former Auburn star had just turned in a statistical line that had been achieved only three times in NFL history, and he did so for the second time in his career with four touchdown passes and 95 rushing yards in the game.

So in his postgame press conference, Newton woke up a drowsy reporter, gave a “War Eagle” for Auburn’s “expected” victory over Georgia and staged a fake walkout, poking fun at himself and the reporters.

The highlights from his 10 minutes at the podium:

Newton led the Panthers to their third straight victory on Monday night by completing 21-of-35 passes for 254 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions and ran for 95 yards on five carries. Newton’s rushing total included a 69-yard run.

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

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

Watch Cam Newton wake drowsy reporter, give a ‘War Eagle’ for win over Georgia

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was feeling good after a 45-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Cornerback Trovon Reed returns to NFL

Former Auburn standout Trovon Reed signed with the Seattle Seahawks to join the NFL team's practice squad on Tuesday.

Former Auburn standout Trovon Reed signed with the Seattle Seahawks to join the NFL team’s practice squad on Tuesday.

Reed had been out of the league since being released by the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 2 when the team reduced its 90-player preseason roster to the regular-season limit of 53 men. It was the sixth time that Reed had been cut during his NFL career.

The Seahawks put five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman on the disabled list with a ruptured Achilles tendon on Tuesday and had tried out several defensive backs this week.

Seattle signed Byron Maxwell to fill Sherman’s spot on the active roster. Maxwell played the first four of his seven NFL seasons for the Seahawks.

Seattle kept Reed for his second stint on the Seahawks’ practice squad.

Each NFL team has a practice squad of as many as 10 players who can practice with the team but cannot play in games.

Reed made his NFL debut last season by playing in the final six games of the 2016 schedule with the San Diego Chargers.

In his first two NFL games, Reed played only on special teams. But over the final four games of the season, he got on the field for 123 snaps with the Chargers’ defense. Reed intercepted a pass in each of his first two games on defense.

Reed played wide receiver for his first three seasons at Auburn before switching to the secondary as a senior. 

Reed spent time on the practice squads of the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and Seahawks after going undrafted in 2015. Reed was on his fourth NFL practice squad when the Chargers promoted him on Nov. 22.

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

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

Cornerback Trovon Reed returns to NFL

Former Auburn standout Trovon Reed signed with the Seattle Seahawks to join the NFL team’s practice squad on Tuesday.

Auburn Rises to No. 6 In College Football Playoff Rankings – Scout


Scout

Auburn Rises to No. 6 In College Football Playoff Rankings
Scout
With a very impressive victory over Georgia the Auburn Tigers have moved up to No. 6 in this week's College Football Playoff rankings. Last week the Tigers were No. 10 in the listing, but a 40-17 decision over then No. 1 Georgia has moved the Tigers up
Auburn football podcast: Tigers just lined up and handled GeorgiaSECcountry.com


Auburn jumps to No. 6 in College Football Playoff rankingsAuburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
Week 12 Power Rankings: Auburn Isn't Playing Like a Two-Loss TeamSports Illustrated
USA TODAY –DawgNation
all 421 news articles »

Auburn moves into top 6 of College Football Playoff rankings

Auburn moved up again in the College Football Playoff rankings after unseating previously top-ranked Georgia.

Auburn is inching closer to a shot at being the first two-loss team to crash the College Football Playoff.

After a convincing 40-17 win against previously top-ranked Georgia last weekend, Auburn moved up to No. 6 in the latest CFP rankings. The Tigers were ranked 10th last week.

Auburn is ranked behind, in order, Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Georgia fell to No. 7 following the loss to the Tigers.

Auburn (8-2, 6-1 SEC) will host Sun Belt opponent ULM this weekend at 11 a.m. before its regular-season finale against top-ranked Alabama in a winner-take-all Iron Bowl that will decide the SEC West — with the winner meeting Georgia in Atlanta the following week — and have major implications on the CFP field of four.

The full CFP rankings are below:

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Miami

4. Oklahoma

5. Wisconsin

5. Auburn

7. Georgia

8. Notre Dame

9. Ohio State

10. Penn State

11. USC

12. TCU

13. Oklahoma State

14. Washington State

15. UCF

16. Mississippi State

17. Michigan State

18. Washington

19. NC State

20. LSU

21. Memphis

22. Stanford

23. Northwestern

24. Mighigan

25. Boise State

AL.com will update this post.

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

Auburn moves into top 6 of College Football Playoff rankings

Auburn moved up again in the College Football Playoff rankings after unseating previously top-ranked Georgia.

Auburn inches closer to top 4 in CFP rankings – 247Sports


247Sports

Auburn inches closer to top 4 in CFP rankings
247Sports
The Tigers jumped four spots to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday. Auburn's dominating 40-17 victory against then-No. 1 Georgia — coupled with four teams ranked ahead of Auburn losing over the weekend — led to the Tigers
Auburn football podcast: Tigers just lined up and handled GeorgiaSECcountry.com


Auburn jumps to No. 6 in College Football Playoff rankingsAuburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
Auburn Rises to No. 6 In College Football Playoff RankingsScout
ESPN (blog) –USA TODAY –DawgNation
all 432 news articles »

Auburn jumps to No. 6 in College Football Playoff rankings – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site


Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

Auburn jumps to No. 6 in College Football Playoff rankings
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
There might not have been a more signature win in college football this past weekend than Auburn taking down No. 1 Georgia, 40-17, and the Tigers were rewarded by the College Football Playoff selection committee, jumping to No. 6 in the latest rankings …
Auburn Rises to No. 6 In College Football Playoff RankingsScout


College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama rises to No. 1, then Clemson, Miami, OklahomaUSA TODAY
FiveThirtyEight gives Auburn incredibly high chance of making College Football Playoff if it wins outSECcountry.com
Sports Illustrated –Landof10.com
all 480 news articles »

Auburn moves to within 2 spots of top 4 in College Football Playoff Rankings

Auburn is closer to a spot in the top four of the College Football Playoff Rankings than it ever has been in the history of the format.

TET College Pick’em WEEK 11 RESULTS

pickem-graphic-e1439682710300-3

A Big WAR EAGLE to all! What an exciting week 11 we had for our Auburn Tigers. The boys showed their strength over the #1 Georgia Bulldogs last week and the question is…did you pick them to do so in such fashion on your college pick’em scores? It’s true, this week doesn’t have to much power ranking teams going at each other, but don’t be fooled, this week could set you up to make a big push in your score as we approach the finale.

Picking winners will be easy this week, more than likely. Picking spreads may be more of a challenge.  Are you up to the challenge? We shall see. With just a few picks left, 1985AubieGirl leads the pack with audude and NC Tigers right behind. It’s getting close at the top. Make your picks wisely.

Here are your current Top 25

 

 
Rank Pick Set Name Total Dropped W-L
1 1985AubieGirl 180 25 180-118
2 audude 180 27 180-123
3 NC Tigers 176 23 176-125
4 BoJax34 175 22 175-127
5 FlyingTiger92 175 24 175-124
6 M.O.D 174 27 174-129
7 wesborden 174 27 174-128
8 Sully7 173 29 173-128
9 AZ Auburn fan baby 173 14 173-126
10 Al3xand3r 173 23 173-130
11 Asian Robert E Lee 173 25 173-126
12 Slack7110 173 27 173-130
13 Brianyork 173 28 173-129
14 99picks 173 27 173-129
15 J. T. 172 27 172-130
16 Wareagle32789 172 14 172-121
17 LTC Taylor 171 24 171-128
18 AUinPHL 170 25 170-133
19 Pine Mt Tiger 170 12 170-131
20 NY War Eagle 170 25 170-132
21 Best5Zach 169 31 169-134
22 WarEagle36608 169 24 169-129
23 AubTigerman 168 13 168-133
24 Erg 168 26 168-134
25 Wreckz 168 27 168-134

The post TET College Pick’em WEEK 11 RESULTS appeared first on Track 'Em Tigers, Auburn's oldest and most read independent blog.

Bulldogs’ defense back at work after struggling vs. Auburn – 247Sports


247Sports

Bulldogs' defense back at work after struggling vs. Auburn
247Sports
Football is a simple game according to the second-year head coach. Everyone tries to scheme their team into the best situation possible but ultimately it comes down to two things — blocking and tackling. Georgia didn't do either particularly well

and more »

VIDEO: Who was Gus Malzahn shouting at on Stidham’s touchdown throw to Slayton?

If you didn’t hear it live or catch the replay, on Jarrett Stidham’s touchdown throw to Darius Slayton during Auburn’s 40-17 win over Georgia, you can clearly make out coach Gus Malzahn yelling “Get it to him!” before Stidham lets…

‘These are the games where your names are made’ – honorary captain Carlos Rogers – Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site


Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site

'These are the games where your names are made' – honorary captain Carlos Rogers
Auburn Tigers Official Athletic Site
With 80 Auburn football players giving undivided attention, Carlos Rogers spoke from the heart. "These are the games where your names are made, pictures around the stadium, things like that," Rogers said. "These are the big games that people look at.

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