Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fall Approaches for the Tigers, QB Questions Loom

Its been a bit since the Parkway hit the air, but as fall approaches and camp gets underway the content will begin to flow again.

My apologies for the delay.

Here's what's happening in Auburn:

Who is the quarterback?

Great question. Right now it is wide open, but my bet is on Nick Marshall. Experienced at JUCO and has the intangibles to make plays.

He had interception issues, but that can be refined with routes and better receivers making plays.

This team has a host of talent on the outside, but it has yet to be developed under the last staffs coaching. 

A lot of updates are set to follow. Check back with us for more in depth updates in the future.

Expect the class breakdown to continue as well.

Thanks for riding the Parkway.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Auburn Recruiting 2014: State of the Class


ILB Tre Williams | Photo via 247Sports

Auburn recruiting is beginning to hit stride for the 2014 class, and this is a look at how the Tigers have done so far. This is the State of the Class report.


As the weeks pass this will be a look into the current class of commits, how they fit in at Auburn and an overlook of their individual skill sets. Stay tuned for constant updates throughout the recruiting cycle. 

                                             
                                                     


The Linebackers

The Tigers recently picked up their fifth pledge of the 2014 class when 4-star Tre Williams committed to the Tigers (h/t al.com).

He is the second inside linebacker commitment for this class joining fellow Mobile, Ala. native De'Shaun Davis. The Tigers are in need of bodies at linebacker despite the recent shift to the new 4-2-5 scheme.

Gus Malzahn and his staff won a major in-state recruiting battle against Alabama when they secured Williams' pledge. Making a mark on south Alabama is a must if this staff plans on securing the state's top recruits.

Here is a breakdown of the linebacker commits that are currently in the fold:

4-star Tre Williams: ILB, St. Pauls Episcopal School, Mobile, Ala.

The Rundown: Williams is a tough inside defender. He has moderate speed and a quick first step. He is best in scripted plays as his reaction time can be a bit slow.

Once dedicated to a gap he plays it out, and is not the most fluid when changing position.

When engaged, Williams is almost always the strongest player. He drives through the ball-carrier and will meet a player in the hole with a lot of force. He has a lot of pop to his hits, and he is a skilled blitzer. Williams is a bit methodical, but his execution is usually flawless making his predictability a non-factor.

Player Comparison: Josh Bynes

Redshirt or Instant Impact: Instant Impact for two reasons.

The Tigers are looking for bigger bodies to fill in at middle linebacker, and Williams has the frame to add another 10-20 pounds. At 6'2", 230 pounds he can become a very large interior linebacker.

His powerful striking ability is something the Tigers are missing on defense. Williams brings a knockout blow with each hit and that tenacious attitude is missing on the Tigers defense.

3-star De'Shaun Davis: ILB, Vigor High School, Prichard, Ala.

The Rundown: Davis is the type of linebacker that coaches love. He has a never ending motor, and he drives to the football. He is a rangy defender with good football speed, but he lacks the ideal top end speed that you look for in an elite recruit.

At 6'0", 225 pounds he lacks ideal size, but he could still be a solid inside man at the 6'0" mark.

He is elusive in space and shakes the first contact blocker with regularity. Davis is a strong player that uses his powerful base to drive through the ball-carrier. He dissects opposing offenses well, and is a very teachable player.
                                                   
                                               

Over the next few years he will be a quality edition to this class.

Player Comparison: Alex Lincoln

Redshirt or Instant Impact: Redshirt.

He may end up as a special teams contributor, but a redshirt is the best scenario for Davis.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gus Malzahn is Auburn's 26th Head Football Coach




Gus Malzahn was hired by Auburn to be the 26th Football coach in school history it was announced earlier today by the University.

Malzahn was at Auburn during the 2009-11 seasons, and helped guide the Tigers offense to unbelievable heights and a national title in 2010. His offense also helped guide Arkansas State to a 9-3 season in 2012.

In his one year with the Red Wolves he won the Sun Belt title and received a bowl berth for the team.

There will be a lot of news to come in the coming days and the Parkway will cover it all. Tomorrow will bring a solid breakdown of the hire and what to expect once he settles in the new role of head coach.

Check back soon for updates.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Auburn Fans Petition White House to Fire Jay Jacobs and Gene Chizik




The Auburn Tigers are staring at a three win finish to the 2012 season. It has become obvious for everyone involved that this team has lost its swagger and has no chance of regaining it this season.

Next year is the focus and who will be coaching the Auburn Tigers team is at the height of discussion. Names like Jeff and Jimbo Fisher, Gus Malzahn and others have begun to swirl around the message boards and rumor mills that discuss Auburn Tigers Football.

The Auburn fans pushing for a coaching change are getting a bit antsy, and are looking to take matters into their own hands to ensure that a change at the top is made this December.

Phone calls and emails have flooded Auburn University President Jay Gogue's office in the past few weeks displaying concern and irritation with the football program. On a daily basis new names and faces drop their football wishes on the President's assistants manning the hotline.

While there have been a few reports stating that changes were imminent thanks to the friendly fan nudging, a recent report gave Gene Chizik and his staff a favorable nod--again, just rumor. That report has led to a meltdown of epic proportions.

When was the last time that a fan base petitioned the White House for a coaching change? Think I am kidding--go here. An Auburn fan has decided to lobby the White House for a coaching change at Auburn.

While I tip my hat to the energy and passion, this is reaching the point of no-return stupid. The good news is only 24,997 more signatures are needed for an official White House response.

That should be interesting.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Auburn Football Continues to Struggle, Firing Gene Chizik Still isn't the Answer




I'm not blind. I have watched every snap of Auburn Football this season. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but for the first time I am torn by a coaches performance.

Gene Chizik earned a ton of praise for guiding the Tigers to their second national title in school history during the 2010 season, but the shine of that season is quickly losing its luster.

Auburn fans are getting stir crazy with a 1-4 record--especially when it looks like Ole Miss has the upper-hand in a SEC game for the first time in 16 contests. It will be the Ole Miss homecoming when Auburn rolls into Oxford this coming Saturday.

Auburn is a homecoming opponent for Ole Miss. Go figure. It seems to fit this season and the turmoil that these Tigers have faced throughout the year.

What has happened to this football team? Under Gene Chizik the Tigers overachieved in 2009 and won a bowl game, finishing 8-5. The following season Chizik led Auburn to the second national title in school history.

Granted, Cam Newton was a big part of that success, but it took a lot more than a bad coach and a great quarterback to win a title--especially with all of the off-the-field issues that attempted to swallow the season's glory.

Gene Chizik and his staff have produced Top 10 recruiting classes three years straight, and the Tigers coaches are set to sign the best class in school history if the 2013 class continues to progress as it seems it will. There are a lot of factors that go into recruiting class success, but coaching is one of the biggest aspects.

Now, two years after the most successful season in school history, Gene Chizik has led the Auburn Tigers to a 1-4 record, with a tough road test in front of this inconsistent and uninspired football team. Ole Miss used to be a sure win--now the game has become a possible scary reality waiting to be played out this Saturday.

What's the reality?

That Auburn is a really bad football team right now for so many reasons it is impossible to label them.

So with all this in mind, why is it not time to fire Chizik? After all, the Tigers could go 3-9 this year. Maybe the 10 million dollar buyout? What gives?

Well it won't be a record that keeps Chizik in Auburn, or a buyout. Even if the number was 20 million, if the Tigers administration wanted him gone, he would be. I don't think that is the solution, and the powers at be should feel the same way. Here is why.

Chizik is recruiting like a madman. Give him one more year.

Recruiting may not be everything--look at Ron Zook--but it is a big factor in football success. Tommy Tuberville is always credited with not recruiting well, but Auburn rarely had a class outside the Top 20 during his tenure. He was a great player developer, but don't fool yourself into thinking he didn't recruit.

Gene Chizik and his staff have been other-worldly on the recruiting trail. He has taken the Tigers back to a balance in the state, where a number of top Alabama recruits have chosen Auburn. Last season Chizik pulled in a number of players from Alabama, and he looks to do the same this year.

The talent pool is being stocked, and the overall ability of this team will continue to rise with Chizik and his guys in the recruiting seats.

There still needs to be some growth on the field no matter how highly recruited these guys are, but that comes at a later point. Auburn has found a ton of success pulling in the best talent in the country. Nothing is going to change in the short term to hurt that.

Dumping Chizik is wrong for a number of reasons, but his recruiting prowess is worthy of keeping him one more season.

If he flops again in 2013, dump him with a ton of talent on roster. Easy fix.

Seriously, it isn't just his recruiting prowess that keeps him around. Chizik has brought some smart decisions to the Tigers program. Brian VanGorder has been a huge addition to the staff and has gotten consistent progress out of a defensive unit that was among the worst in the country for three years running.

He did hire Scot Loeffler, which is still in the "not so sure about that one" category. Loeffler is a young guy that has only been a coordinator for one season. He has a long way to go with play-calling, but he is learning. The biggest question has been the lack of a running game.

I thought the Loeffler hire was a good one when it happened, but now I am not so sure.

Auburn can turn around its fortune in the next few weeks, but it starts against Ole Miss. If the Tigers run the football, they will win some ball games. Can Loeffler stick to the run, or will he keep forcing passes on a quarterback that isn't ready to throw them?

If Loeffler runs the football, and Auburn wins the next few games with offense, Chizik will be lauded once again.

For Chizik, how he finishes the season with this team is huge. Do they go down fighting, or do they curl-up and roll away?

The Auburn Tigers are not lacking talent. They are lacking leadership. Auburn is second guessing itself in a number of areas. The fans are starting to bear down the necks of the coaches and players.

It was time for Chizik to circle the wagons when he did, now he needs to produce results.

Chizik will make this team competitive again. His assistants will help along the way. There has to be a little more rope for Chizik to pull on because firing him would cripple the program.

There is proof that Chizik can win football games. He has shown that he can recruit. Hiring a new coach typically sets a program back two to three years. Why restart when 2013 may hold a better outcome? What if 2012 still has surprises?

Chizik has pushed through scholarship problems and NCAA investigations. He has won a national title and recruited with the best.

Dumping him is not the answer--yet. 2013 will bring a different story. Either he rides back into town with a winning record and  an orange and blue chariot, or the couch burning begins.


Auburn Football Ranked in the ESPN Bottom 10 Poll


Photo via Auburn University Official Website


When was the last time that the Auburn Tigers were ranked in the Bottom 10 by ESPN?

I'll wait.

I honestly am not sure if it has ever happened--until now. The Tigers are ranked No. 5 in the latest edition of the ESPN Bottom 10 poll.

Talk about a fall from grace. It has been a wild ride in 2012 so far. A season that almost witnessed a victory over then No. 2 LSU. A season that had hope and promise that now has more doom and gloom then the final season of the Tuberville era.

Yeah I said it. This season is having as many issues on the surface and underground as the 1998 season.

What is happening?

The Tigers have the talent, but there is a huge lack of leadership. Sammie Coates called out the seniors this week, saying he felt no leadership. That is a really bad sign for this football team.

More to come on the state of the program later today.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Auburn Tigers Tidbits 8.9.12: No Movement at Quarterback After First Scrimmage


Todd Van Emst | AP Photo


Tigers Complete First Scrimmage of Fall

The Tigers ascended on Jordan-Hare Stadium yesterday for the first scrimmage of fall camp. Don't get too excited, there wasn't much to see as the media was not allowed to view the scrimmage. There are a few nuggets of info that have made it out to the masses, but no substantial moves were made at any position that is currently in a battle to find a starter.

The Tigers were very inconsistent according to the coaches but there were some good signs that came with the scrimmage.

Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said the Tigers performed well at times and bad at times. He said there were four big plays that absolutely cannot happen this season. Onterio McCalebb is rumored to be one of the providers of a big play--a 70-yard touchdown run.

The quarterback play was inconsistent according to offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, providing no movement in the race for the starting job. Clint Moseley is still facing nagging shoulder issues and only threw one pass--a bubble screen.

At this point, Kiehl Frazier is taking almost every rep with the 1's. The job looks to be his--as it has for the past nine months--but I think the coaching staff want to give Moseley as much of a fair shake as possible despite the shoulder issues.

Jonathan Wallace had a good day for a freshman, completing a few passes to Jaylon Denson when he was taking reps with the 2's and 3's. Wallace was a very underrated recruit in my opinion and could be a guy that develops into a very good quarterback down the road for the Tigers.

One receiver that has captured the hearts and minds of the Auburn Family is Sammie Coates. His size and speed have led to speculation that he is the "next big thing" on the Tigers roster, but a round of brick-hands during the spring led to some concern with his consistency and concentration on the field.

Rumor has it that those issues are gone. If so, Coates will be a force in the passing game. He is one of the fastest players on the team. Add to that speed his 6'2" frame, and there is an explosive player waiting to debut.

Jake Holland Goes Beast Mode

Jake Holland has been a player that has drawn a ton of criticism in the past over his lack of consistency on the field and apparent sluggishness at times. Keep in mind, the dude has battled through multiple injuries since arriving on the Plains and has played with them.

This season he is healthy and despite getting mauled by the booming voice of Brian VanGorder for missed assignments during fall camp, he had a huge day during the scrimmage.

I have been a "jury is still out" type guy with regards to Holland, but it seems like he may be finally putting all the pieces together.

Tigers Take Thursday Off

The Tigers will take off today to recuperate after a few days of intense hitting. The Tigers will hit the field again tomorrow.

Shug Jordan Parkway Radio

K.C. Whitten and I will hit the waves again tonight for another Thursday edition of the Shug Jordan Parkway Radio. You don't want to miss the power hour that hits three nights a week. We will be talking a number of pressing items in the world of sports. Show starts at 6 p.m. CT.

Various and Sundry Updates

I will have more content for Bleacher Report and Fly War Eagle later today and tomorrow. Be sure to check it out. Until next time, thirsty Thursday is upon us--enjoy Parkway Riders!