Thursday, 20 January 2011

The best coaching staff in the Nation

You need three things to put together a Championship team: Talent, chemistry and great coaching. But you also need other various intangibles such as the passion to win, and the right mindset.

Fans, and especially the media seemed to under-appreciate the importance of this coaching staff and how it was the main reason why Auburn won the National Championship. I mean, who do you even think BROUGHT Cam to Auburn? These coaches have worked their butts off the last 2 years in rebuilding this program from the lowest of lows, right up to the top of the mountain.

With how influential the media is in today's society, it is important to have coaches that know how to control their players and know how to maintain consistency. Players do read up on the influential sports outlets and it can change their mindset in a split second. Stars on this Championship team like Nick Fairley and Cam Newton were able to keep their feet grounded and maintain a good work rate, instead of taking their foot of the gas because they see their names in newspaper and magazine headlines.

You have got to give credit, where credit is due. Tracy Rocker built our stout defensive line, Gus Malzahn ran the offense and coached up Cam Newton and Chris Todd, Grimes inherited an experienced Offensive Line and made them better, Phillip Lolley coached the defensive backs, Curtis Luper made Ben Tate into a second round pick, and Trooper Taylor also coached the Wide Receivers up to brilliance, and even managed to turn a former Quarterback into a reliable Receiver. Go figure?

Gene Chizik has also done a great job at coaching the team, making the calls, handling the media well, staying humble and of course putting together this great staff we currently behold. The credit needs to go everywhere, and I think it has (at least from an Auburn fans point of view).

This entire staff has been together for 2 seasons, and none have been fired or left for jobs. Why you ask? Because they don't need too? Grimes stayed because he loves it at Auburn and he loves his coaching situation. Gus Malzahn (who I think will leave eventually) stayed because he knows he can further prove his worth with another season or two coaching up his offense.

I know we have had our gripes with certain coaches at different points in the season, but we ended the season perfect. What else could you want? These coaches work their butts off 24/7 to get this team to be as good as possible and it has shown this season.

Then there is the recruiting side of it. I don't think it needs to be said that this staff can recruit with the best because it has already been proved. We could finish this 2011 recruiting class very strong, just like we did last year. Don't get me wrong, Auburn is a great place and the family feel is what recruits like, but these coaches are the ones who are calling up high school studs trying to schedule visits with them.

The coaches know how to sell Auburn, and they do it really well. They respect these kids and their futures and don't treat the entire thing as a business. Recruits want to feel like they can talk to their coaches and not just take orders on the field. When something goes wrong either on or off the field this staff knows how to handle it and they do it very well. Examples could be the Cam Newton saga and several suspensions.

What we have at Auburn is special, this staff is the best there is and staying together for a third straight season would be nothing short of amazing. Enjoy this time and never doubt this staff, whether it comes to recruiting or coaching.

They can pull off miracles, so never say never.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Several juniors taking their talents to the NFL

After several days of both rumours and the truth, it has now been confirmed that Darvin Adams, Nick Fairley and Cammy Cam Newton will skip their senior year and head to the NFL. It was a tough decision for all three of them, but in my opinion they all made the decision that was best for themselves, and I'll explain why.

For Nick Fairley, it was a foregone conclusion he would head to the NFL since there is a good chance he could be the number one pick (Since Andrew Luck decided to stay for another year). This was a great decision by Fairley because even if he doesn't go first, the money in the first round is still incredible and you can never turn that down. He had a breakout year this season and I think he is well deserving of a great NFL career, and I think he will have one.

Then there is Cam. Cam Newton was by the far the most outstanding player in College Football this year, and his record as a starter showed. He never lost a game in an AU uniform, and even though he didn't do everything, he still did a lot. His decision to go to the NFL in my opinion was one that I don't get, but I can understand at the same time. I think he still needs a lot of work in his passing game and another year under Gus Malzahn could help him become a first year starter. Instead, I think he will get drafted by a team that has patience and will let him work on his game for a few years, and then give him a shot. But I can also see why he would want to leave College Football. As long as he plays at Auburn, there will be constant chatter about his father's actions and how it should impact Cam and Auburn. A lot of it is inaccurate information but that doesn't stop people writing it.

Cam will always be an Auburn legend and may be the best one and done college player of all time. How he impacted this Auburn team, and the leadership as well as his physical tools is beyond remarkable. To be a Pro Quarterback you need to have the tools, and the right mindset. Cam will soon have both, he holds all the leadership qualities that NFL franchises love and he obviously has the dimensions of an NFL quarterback (although his mechanics will be tweaked).

Can I just say it one more time?

6'6 250.

Finally, we have Darvin "Smoove" Adams. There was a period of confusion in his decision since the deadline had passed, and since no information came out we "assumed" that he decided to stay. But, we were wrong in the end. Came out just recently he did indeed make the jump and I have mixed feelings over this one but only one conclusion. Darvin Adams was one of the SEC's underrated players, and apart from Cam he was Auburn's most dangerous weapon. He always had reliable hands and made a name for himself last season coming just short of 1,000 receiving yards.

From a technical point of view, it was a poor decision for him. Guys like Julio Jones and AJ Green will be the first receivers taken and Darvin may find it hard to sneak into the first three rounds. He is no doubt a great player, but you need to evaluate your draft competition as well. If he stayed another year his main national competition would be Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery. Both are great talents, but then again so is Smoove.

From a family point of view, I think he made the right decision. Adams does have two children that need support and if he can manage to get drafted he will be able to support them. This is my overall conclusion, as to why I think this was a great decision for Smoove. He obviously feels the need to make this leap and I will back him the entire way. He has done so much for Auburn, and he stepped up for us in 2009 when we didn't have a clear number one receiver. He was a reliable weapon through his tenure, and will prove to be a decent weapon for any professional team that wants to take a chance with him.

His size may be an issue, but he has been at Auburn for three years. If he was going to gain more weight he would have done it already. Doing so could affect his game, which is why he may have held off gaining more muscle.

In the end, I think all three made the best decisions. It will be hard for fans to grasp them leaving because of what they have helped Auburn achieved this season and they have become legends because of it. I think you will see new guys step up next season in the unfilled positions, but that is the excitement of the situation. Yes its sad watching great players leave, but you get the tingly feeling over what younger guys may step up into new roles in the near future.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Curious Case of Kodi Burns

Theres is always that one person. That one person who will do whatever it takes for the team to win. The guy who accepts the role given to him, and the guy that accepts his destiny.

For Auburn, that man is Kodi Burns.

He will go down as one of the biggest cult heroes in Auburn's history. His story is an interesting one thats for sure, and even though his plans didn't work out the way he wanted them too when he got to Auburn, I have a feeling he just doesn't care. Heck, he's a National Champion.

Kodi came to Auburn under Tommy Tuberville in 2007, playing as a backup to Brandon Cox. He got a good percentage of the reps, and his most prized moments his freshman year was the runs agains Florida and Clemson. Fans were already deeming him the next star after what an "average" Brandon Cox graduated.

No one could predict how his Auburn career would end.

As a sophomore going into 2008, Burns and Todd were playing hop scotch with the Quarterback spot, but the season ended with Burns as the starter. He endured a miserable year at quarterback on a miserable team. He ended the season with 1050 yards and 2 passing touchdowns, as well as 411 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.

At the end of the season Tuberville was fired, Chizik came in and started the Quarterback race between Kodi, Caudle, Trotter, Rollison and Todd. Chris Todd was considered the best so he was given the starting job over Kodi Burns. Burns was then converted to Wide Reciever, and you didn't hear any complaints from him. He accepted the role and embraced it.

Enter 2010, which is considered maybe the greatest season in Auburn's history. He had 177 receiving yards for one crucial touchdown, which came against Oregon in the BCS National title game. The statistics do not do Kodi justice, all year he made some great catches for crucial yardage. As a quarterback converted to Wide Receiver you could say his career wasn't too shabby.

Kodi finishes his Auburn career as a legend, not for his production but for his team mind-set which is rare these days. As a top ranked Quarterback you don't dream about being changed to a Wide Receiver whilst another Quarterback comes in and takes your reps. One thing people forget, is that he easily could have decided to try out at Quarterback elsewhere. If he did transfer, we wouldn't have a crystal football in our trophy case.

Kodi did what was best for him, the team and the program as a whole. He has helped this program excel to greatness and he did it with no complaints and selfish acts. Maybe he didn't turn out to be the next great Auburn Quarterback we all expected him to be in 2007, but he has embraced the team and has taken up a new role which most players wouldn't have done. He hasn't ran away from his problems, he stuck it out like a man and for me that says something about the type of man he is. As I write this I am getting a tad emotional, just thinking about what he has been through and how he has turned his career around. He is a better man for it.

I hope whatever profession you go into will treat you well Kodi, the past 4 years has been a roller coaster for you and there's no doubt that your selfless acts has made the team as a whole more close and compact.

Kodi Burns is how you define an "Auburn Man"

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A perfect end to a perfect season

I'm finding it hard to come up with the words for this post, so I apologise if it doesn't make much sense. I am still in major disbelief over what has occurred monday night, and this season as a whole. In the summer, we all heard how special this team is and the chemistry that was developing over time, and how close knit this team is.

Seeing is believing.

On Monday, Auburn defeated the Oregon Ducks 22-19 in a game that was expected to be a straight up shootout. Both teams put points up, but both defense's also made big plays that helped turn the ball over. Cam did not play his best game of the season, but Oregon's defensive game plan was very good. They clogged the box and it forced Cam to throw under pressure and make some tight throws. Who knows how this game will influence Cam's NFL decision, but he still made some big first down plays that helped move the ball forward.

The man who really excelled on offense was Michael Dyer. He finished with 143 total yards on 22 carries and almost had a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Every carry he was always pushing for more yards, and looked very good especially with the moves he was making on a clogged field. Was this his breakout game? Who knows, we will have to see next season. But I think the type of game he had on the biggest stage on college football really helped his confidence. Dyer's carries will increase next season if Cam moves onto the NFL, and I think he will be ready for it.

With how stout the defense was, and how well Dyer played it really threw the theory out the window that Auburn were a one man show.

One thing to not forget, is the 2010 senior class.It was something special, as all year, several seniors made big plays that have helped contribute to this undefeated season. Here are several big ones.

- Zac Etheridge's fumble return for a TD against Arkansas.
- Antoine Carter's forced fumble on Mark Ingram that helped change the momentum against 'Bama.
- Wes Byrum's winning field goals against Clemson, Kentucky and Oregon.
- Josh Bynes and Demond Washington's crucial fourth quarter interception's against Arkansas and South Carolina.
- Not winning plays, but I thought I'd throw in Kodi Burns' TD throw to Cam against Ole Miss and his first and last receiving touchdown of the 2010 season against Oregon.

The media talks about Cam and Nick, and rightly so, they are both elite college players. But people often overlook the importance of the senior class and how it helped shaped the season. All will be remembered for the sacks, tackles, interceptions, blocks, touchdowns that they all made, and that in itself is priceless.

Who could forget the offensive line? It is without doubt one of the best lines I have ever seen in a college team. The majority of them have been together since their freshman year and have developed a bond that is rare these days. The blocking they did was a contribution to Cam's excellent play. Leaving him enough time to make throws and creating the holes for him to run through.

The Auburn family thanks the 2010 Senior class, because you made this season all the more special! Good luck and god bless.

The defense wasn't perfect, but it made the plays for us to win crucial games. They did their job no matter how frustrating it got at times. Ted Roof is a mastermind at halftime adjustments and our second half defensive record is stout to say the least.

Chizik came in two years ago and was one of the most unpopular sport hires we have seen in a while, but slowly people were starting to support Chizik and his plan, and it has evidently payed off. Makes you wonder what kind of odds there were that he would win the National Title when he was hired?

One thing is for sure, he definitely has Auburn on the right track, and he has already proven that he can win the big games. He did something only Shug Jordan could do, but that's not to diminish Pat Dye's and Tommy Tuberville's undefeated seasons, because they were all special teams.

Im excited, your all excited, the coaches are excited because this will hopefully change the perception of our program. Elite programs win National Championships, and winning them in the BCS Era is all the more important.

Unbeaten, unmatched, undeniably the best team in all of College football, and the best team in the nation. They are your National Champions, Auburn fans the Tigers are 14-0! - Rod Bramblett with a 2010 twist.

Monday, 10 January 2011

This is it....all or nothing

Tonight is perhaps the biggest game in the history of Auburn Football. It is a game where we can prove to the College Football world that we are going to become a modern contender. Tonight the entire Auburn family must be behind the Tigers 110%. Whether we are down by 24 or up by 24 you must never stop screaming, never stop supporting and never stop singing.

We have had chances in the past to be where we are now, but inconvenient circumstances never given us much luck. This game is not only for the 2010 Auburn football team, but for the teams in the past who never had the chance to play for it all. I don't believe the Auburn family has ever been closer or more compact than it has this season. We have been to hell and back, whether its with the heart wrenching comebacks, or the Cam Newton allegations, and somehow we have come out of it all unscathed.

All season, we have said "we escaped this time, but we won't again". Time after time we have been in uncomfortable positions, but we all have always come out on top. Slowly but surely, we were piecing together this chance. All it took was 13 steps. All we had to do was complete each step and so far so good. But that is in the past, all we are focusing on now is the task at hand. Which is what I like to call....the 14th piece.

Ever since Gene Chizik was hired at Auburn, he always preached "Good to great". Two years later, here we are. We are about to become great.

If I could say anything to the team before this game, I would just say "This is your chance to become champions, 60 minutes is all it takes....leave it all on the field"

Play every snap like it's your last. Hit 'em hard in the trenches, block like your life depends on it, run like the wind, never look back and always look forward.

But most importantly...

Play like a champion

Friday, 7 January 2011

BCS National Championship Preview!

Its finally here ladies and gentleman! In 2 days time the Auburn Tigers will be squaring off against the Oregon Ducks for the BCS National Championship! It would be fair to say that everyone is trying to hold back there excitement for this game, whether you are going to Glendale or not. This is being widely anticipated to be an epic shoot out, between two elite offensive teams. Both teams have a wide range of offensive stars that can get it done against any defense.

For Oregon, they have two top tier running backs in Kenjon Barner and Heisman finalist LaMichael James. As well as a dual-threat quarter back in Darron Thomas. All three of these pose similar threats to the Auburn defense, and Ted Roof has to figure out different schemes and packages that will try to contain each of them. Its a tough job, but he was undefeated in 2010 as a defensive he can't be that bad?

I'm not going to sit here and explain the weight's of the Oregon players, because quite frankly, that subject has been beaten to death. However it is true, that Auburn has a size advantage in most positions, such as the offensive and defensive lines. The trenches are a BIG factor into who wins ball games, and whoever wins the battles in this game will almost certainly come out the champion.

For Auburn, their offense is just plain nasty (not that I'm biased or anything). They have a Heisman winner in the dual-threat quarterback in Cam Newton, as well as two underrated running backs in Onterrio McCalleb and Michael Dyer. Both give the Auburn's run game a different look and it can catch defenses off guard. We all know Cam has developed into a great passer as the season has progressed, and the passing game is becoming a strength. Cam has many top weapons to throw too such as Phillip Lutzenkirchen (Touchdown Maker), Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery and Kodi Burns.

After stating the obvious of both teams, now I get to throw in the real question. What is the key to winning this game? That my "Orange and Blue" brethren is "defense". Which defense's will be able to come up with the necessary stops? Which one's can come up with the BIG stops?

For Auburn, if they want to limit Oregon's scoring, the entire defense must have a BIG game. The secondary will have to stay in tight coverage and the defensive line will have too maintain a constant pressure on the offensive line and Darron Thomas. This game is made for Nick Fairley. He is an elite defensive tackle and will be able to overpower Oregon's offensive line regularly, I guarantee you that. The Auburn Linebackers are key to stopping the outside run. Bynes is the inside man, but the guys on the outside like Stevens, Bates and Freeman must be quick off their feet and know what is coming. Many times in the past teams have used screens and outside runs against us and it has hurt us dearly.

Obviously, this is going to be a battle of epic proportions on monday but I expect the Tigers to walk out victorious. I think both Auburn and Oregon's offenses will start out slow, but as the game progresses more and more points will be put up on the board. Auburn's defense will get a few stops in the fourth quarter, and Cam will lead the offense down the field on a last minute drive where Wes Byrum will nail the winning field goal.

A very specific prediction, but it's what I do best! I hope this article has given you all a perspective from both sides and lets hope its Auburn who get's to hoist the crystal ball!

Remember to enjoy what we have right now, there is nothing better than to win the crystal ball but to do it undefeated as another accomplishment in itself. Soak up the glory of this team and enjoy the game wherever you are. I'll be up all night watching it on television, which is definitely an upgrade to an internet stream!

Let's hope my next post will be one of epic proportions! War Eagle!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Will Cam leave for the NFL?

I hope everyone is as excited about our game on January 10th as I am. It's probably the biggest thing on every Auburn fan's mind right now, but Cam Newton's dilemma about whether to skip his senior season comes in at a close second.

When Cam Newton arrived at Auburn, his father said that Cam was a two year commitment to the Tigers. But you can now throw that commitment out the window (No Cam jokes intended). When your'e a national star, a Heisman trophy winner and playing on an undefeated team how could your career getting any better? This is the question players ask themselves when considering the jump to the pro's. They ask themselves "Could I gain something better than what I have have?". Since things like stats and awards are key to upping your draft status.

When you look at Cam Newton's mega season at Auburn, you can clearly see he has achieved everything any high school recruit ever dreams about when stepping on a college campus. Such as an undefeated season, several major awards, a conference championship, a spot in the National Championship game and an eye-popping season statistically. Not to mention a heart-wrenching comeback against your most hated rival.

I'm no draft expert, nor do I try to be but according to several people Cam is projected to be an early to mid first rounder in the 2011 NFL Draft. When your'e projected that high you just have to take it. The money is unbelievable and teams will have more patience with you when your are making the transition into an NFL caliber player (especially at the Quarterback position).

What does Cam gain and risk if he returns? Well, for starters he could gain another valuable year of experience at Quarterback under Gus Malzahn, which would most likely make him into a much more solid player and could help his NFL career long term. What does he risk by returning? Everything else.

Auburn loses 24 seniors after this season, including the majority of the much heralded offensive line. There is no guarantee he will have the same comfort at Quarterback as this season and his stats may suffer because of it. There is also the risk of injury. Cam was very lucky not to have sustained any major injuries this season, and you never know how much it can play on someones mind when deciding to make the jump, and how it could affect your future plans. Just ask Kyle Parker.

Do I think he makes the leap? Absolutely, but if he does return it will be because he wants to help out an Auburn team that in 2011 would most likely be rebuilding at several key positions.

But heck, stranger things have happened.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Remaining Bowl Predictions!

Now that i'm up and running, i'm going to give you all my remaining bowl predictions! I wish I could have done them all, but the translation from YouTube to here was time consuming (amongst other things).

TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern vs Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberville will coach his first ever bowl with Texas Tech against Northwestern, the same team Auburn played on the Outback Bowl last year. Will Tubby be able to get his team ready for this game? I think he will.

Tech 21 NW 20

Outback Bowl: Florida vs Penn State
So it's the retiree vs the refuses-to-retiree. Meyer I believe will have his team amped for his last game at Florida, and will lay a licking on the Lions.

Florida 31 Penn. State 10

Capital One Bowl: Alabama vs Michigan State
My how the Tide has turned! A year ago they were undefeated playing for a title, and now they are playing in the Bank Bowl! However, the recent questions about whether Saban will be able to get his team ready will be answered when Bama beats up the Spartans.

Bama 41 State 17

Gator Bowl: Miss. State vs Michigan
Will this be Rich Rod's last game? You can bank on it.

Miss State 24 Michigan 21

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs TCU
TCU misses out on the BCS title game, but they won't beat this Wisconsin team which is on a mission as of late.

Wisky 41 TCU 21

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Connecticut vs Oklahoma

Oklahoma 49 UConn 13

Discover Orange Bowl: Stanford vs Virginia Tech
This I imagine will be a decent game. I think Stanford will get out to an early 10 point lead but Andrew gives them some Luck and they storm past the Hokies late on.

Stanford 28 VTech 24

AllState Sugar Bowl
Ohio State is 0-9 against the SEC, will they be 0-10 after this one? Yes sir. I don't see Ohio State winning, though if they do, they would probably sell the Sugar Bowl trophy.

Arkansas 35 Ohio State 28 Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs Miami (OH)

MTS 31 Miami 28

AT&T Cotton Bowl: LSU vs Texas A&M
Got a feeling after LSU's loss to Arkansas, they wont be up for this one.

A&M 28 LSU 17

The BCS National Championship prediction will be up in a few days! Stay tuned! War Eagle!