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October 31, 2012

Auburn notes: Coaches, coordinators love Wallace; Trooper no comment on allegations

AUBURN, Ala. – Jonathan Wallace has got a long way to go to be mentioned in the same sentence as Tom Brady, Chad Henne and Tim Tebow.

One thing those four quarterbacks do have in common is playing college football under coach Scot Loeffler at one point in time. Auburn’s offensive coordinator can name other shared traits.

“They’ve all had similar characteristics; they’ve all had tremendous work ethic, they’ve all been tough as all get-out, students of the game, and a will not to be average,” Loeffler said. “There’s some things you see in this young guy that are similar.”

Loeffler doesn’t anticipate his gameplan to dumb down much for his true freshman, slated to make his first collegiate start Saturday against New Mexico State.

“He’s extremely cerebral. You’d be shocked how much he knows,” Loeffler said. “He’s been a gym rat since he walked in the door. He’s been a grinder in every sense of the word.”

Wallace also received high praise from two other Auburn assistants.

“He appears to be a guy that really pays attention to detail, which rubs off on other guys,” defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. “Between the athleticism and desire to be successful, it’s encouraging.”

And from wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, “I just like the self-motivation of the kid … when he’s calling plays in the huddle, it sounds like he’s been doing it all his life.”

Feeling Breesy: Four days after overseeing the worst defensive performance in school history, VanGorder could only come up with one comparison in his own 24-year coaching career.

When he was Central Michigan’s defensive coordinator on Sept. 19, 1999, Purdue romped to a 58-16 victory behind future All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees.

“We had tackling problems, speed issues, execution issues, a couple third-down penalties, and we didn’t need to help them, that’s for sure,” VanGorder said.

Texas A&M rolled up 671 total yards, the most ever against Auburn.

“Just an accumulation of a lot of errors,” VanGorder said. “And they’re pretty darn good – a pretty bad matchup for us.”

No comment: Following Chizik’s lead, Taylor didn’t have much to say in response to USA Today’s Danny Sheridan’s remarks Monday that Taylor, Auburn’s assistant head coach, and recruiting coordinator/running backs coach Curtis Luper have been pulled off the recruiting trail while the NCAA conducts an investigation on the program.

“We really can’t comment about accusations, but I can tell you this: we have a plan in place for recruiting,” Taylor said. “We stick to that plan, and what this coaching staff is focused on right now outside of recruiting is winning a football game.”

Respect for Lattimore: Auburn head coach Gene Chizik holds no ill will against running back Marcus Lattimore for turning down an offer and choosing South Carolina over the Tigers.

Chizik joined the chorus of masses lending words of support to Lattimore, who suffered a catastrophic knee injury Saturday against Tennessee that looks to put the junior out of football until 2014.

“Everybody that doesn’t know him only sees him as a great football player, but when you get to know him and his family and his mom – just great people,” Chizik said. “I’m sure there is a great outpouring of affection for him and his family. It’s hard to see something like that happen to such a man. He’s a great player and probably a better person off the field. It was great to recruit him and get to know his family.”

Auburn sophomore Tre Mason, who wears No. 21 on his uniform like Lattimore, dedicated last Saturday’s game to his fellow tailback.

“That’s the respect he’s commanded for everybody across the country,” Chizik said. “He’s certainly deserving of that.”

Knocked out: Cornerback Chris Davis “does not appear” to be available for Saturday’s action, according to defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

Chizik said Tuesday Davis suffered a concussion a few weeks ago. His void would leave cornerback duties to Jon Mincy, Jon Jones and Josh Holsey.

Defensive end Dee Ford is getting better, while defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker and quarterback Clint Moseley (ankle) aren’t expected to suit up Saturday. Ford and Whitaker are nursing undisclosed injuries.

SEC Power Rankings: Week Nine

Aaron Brenner, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer 

**All games Saturday … all times CT … all rankings BCS**

1) No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC); Last week, 1

Last week: beat No. 11 Mississippi State 38-7

Nick Saban isn’t really a robot … hey, the guy has two Debbie cookies for breakfast. The All-Access show ESPN has programmed this week might be interesting. If for nothing else, watch for Samantha Steele. She might be a better Erin Andrews than Erin Andrews ever was.

Next: at No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1), 7 p.m. | CBS

2) No. 5 LSU (7-1, 3-1); LW, 3

Last week: Idle

Is Death Valley where dreams go to die? That’s fair to say. And night games under Les Miles? Tigers are now 58-5 in that setting. We’re gonna find out if the Crimson Tide are for real, absolutely.

Next: vs. No. 1 Alabama (8-0, 5-0), 7 p.m. | CBS

3) No. 6 Georgia (7-1, 5-1); LW, 7

Last week: beat No. 2 Florida 17-9 in Jacksonville

My bad, letting Georgia sink that low in these rankings. It wasn’t pretty Saturday – what has been this year, for Mark Richt’s team? – and yet the Bulldogs are deservedly sixth in the country. Jarvis Jones, the Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week, is a man among boys out there.

Next: vs. Ole Miss (5-3, 2-2), 2:30 p.m. | CBS

4) No. 7 Florida (7-1, 6-1); LW, 2

Last week: lost to No. 10 Georgia 17-9 in Jacksonville

Last year’s plague came back to haunt Florida. Offense is just not at a championship-caliber level. And so, Florida beat South Carolina, who hammered Georgia, who beat the Gators. Oy.

Next: vs. Missouri (4-4, 1-4), 11 a.m. | ESPN2

5) No. 8 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2); LW, 4

Last week: beat Tennessee 38-35

It’s been stunning to view the outpouring of support for Marcus Lattimore. Absolutely numbing. On the football side, this does affect this team’s season greatly – Kenny Miles just isn’t the same.

Next: Idle

6) No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 SEC); LW, 6

Last week: won at Auburn 63-21

Vroom vroom. The Aggies’ offense waits for no one. Its next road tests, Mississippi State and Alabama, should each be a dandy.

Next: at No. 15 Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1), 11 a.m. | ESPN

7) No. 15 Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1); LW, 5

Last week: lost at No. 1 Alabama 38-7

Herein lies the issue – the Bulldogs used an awful lot of emotional juice to get up for Alabama. There enough left in the tank for a home game they’ve got to have?

Next: vs. No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2), 11 a.m. | ESPN

8) Ole Miss (5-3, 2-2); LW, 9

Last week: won at Arkansas 30-27

Not really sure why I had Vandy over Ole Miss last week – I saw both teams beat Auburn in back-to-back weeks. Rebels are better. A road win at Arkansas, which was starting to gain some momentum, proves it.

Next: at No. 6 Georgia (7-1, 5-1), 2:30 p.m. | CBS

9) Vanderbilt (4-4, 2-3); LW, 8

Last week: beat Massachusetts 49-7

Zac Stacy’s a little banged up … but he could be less than 100 percent and still run on this Kentucky defense.

Next: at Kentucky (1-8, 0-6), 11 a.m. | ESPNU

10) Tennessee (3-5, 0-5); LW, 10

Last week: lost at No. 13 South Carolina 38-35

They continue to be thaaaaaaat close to a big win. But it’s a results-based sport. (What sport isn’t, really?) This will be remembered as a very poor season in Knoxville, even if it’s a handful of plays here and there from being markedly different.

Next: vs. Troy (4-4), 11 a.m. | FSN

11) Arkansas (3-5, 2-3); LW, 11

Last week: lost to Ole Miss 30-27

It’s been greatly discussed, Auburn’s fall from grace. But that was over two seasons. Even if the Tigers don’t win another game – and they absolutely should, with two non-con patsies coming up – that’s a dropoff of seven victories from a year ago. Unless the Razorbacks (11-2 in 2011) can somehow knock off South Carolina, Mississippi State or LSU, their setback will be an eight-game differential … and that’s presuming a victory over better-than-you-know Tulsa, which can absolutely move the football on this Razorbacks defense.

Next: vs. Tulsa (7-1), 11:21 a.m. | SEC Network

12) Missouri (4-4, 1-4); LW, 12

Last week: beat Kentucky 33-10

Gary Pinkel says SEC > Big 12. Big 12 fans freak out. SEC fans smirk.

Next: at Florida (7-1, 6-1), 11 a.m. | ESPN2

13) Kentucky (1-8, 0-6); LW, 13

Last week: lost at Missouri 33-10

What did the Wildcats ever do to tick off the football gods? Injury after injury after season-ending injury.

Next: vs. Vanderbilt (4-4, 2-3), 11 a.m. | ESPNU

14) Auburn (1-7, 0-6); LW, 14

Last week: lost to Texas A&M 63-21

Here’s the keys, Jonathan Wallace. Not much you can do to make this worse, but use this week to gain some confidence, and then the Auburn family will see what you can do against the big boys of Georgia and Alabama after that.

Next: vs. New Mexico State (1-7), 11:30 a.m. | CSS

Tigers in the NFL: Week 8 edition

Happy Halloween! You’ll be treated to Auburn’s NFL report from the past weekend, courtesy Taylor Bryan in the AU media relations office. Fittingly on Halloween, the primary focus is a Raider. -AB

Pat Lee, DB, Oakland Raiders: Recorded the first interception of his career, while adding five tackles and two breakups in a 26-16 win over Kansas City. Lee has played in all seven games this season. He has recorded 26 tackles with four break ups, one interception and one forced fumble.

(WATCH VIDEO: Lee’s Acrobatic Interception)

Jerraud Powers, DB, Indianapolis Colts: Season-high 10 tackles (seven solo) in the Colts’ 19-13 win over Tennessee. Powers has started all 41 games in his career and registered 207 tackles with six interceptions in four seasons.

Rob Bironas, PK, Tennessee Titans: Hit 2-of-3 field goal attempts while also connecting on an extra point as Tennessee fell to Indianapolis, 19-13. Bironas has hit 12-of-15 field goals this season. He has hit on 85.9 percent of his attempts in eight seasons.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: Recorded his first 300-yard passing game since Week 1 by completing 20-of-39 passes for 314 yards in a 23-22 loss to Chicago. Newton has thrown for 1,701 yards with five touchdowns and rushed for 310 yards with three scores in his second season after being drafted with the top overall pick in 2011. Newton has 43 total touchdowns in 23 career games.

Karlos Dansby, LB, Miami Dolphins: Recorded eight tackles (five solo) and a deflection in a 30-9 win over the Jets. A nine-year veteran, Dansby has more than 700 stops in his career. He’s one of just four active NFL players with at least 30 sacks and 10 interceptions.

Ronnie Brown, RB, San Diego Chargers: Had a season-best seven receptions for 85 yards in a 7-6 water-soaked loss at Cleveland. Brown’s 13 rushing yards during week 6 put him over 5,000 for his career. He has played in 98 games in his career with 49 touchdowns.

Takeo Spikes, LB, San Diego Chargers: Tackled eight Browns. Spikes has recorded 1,393 tackles in his 15 seasons in the NFL, the last two with San Diego.

Jay Ratliff, DT, Dallas Cowboys: Had five tackles (three solo) in Dallas’ 29-24 loss to the Giants. Ratliff is in his eighth season, all with Dallas. He has started 81 games with 222 tackles and 27.0 sacks.

Carlos Rogers, DB, San Francisco 49ers: Had six tackles in San Francisco’s 24-3 win over the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. In his eighth season after being drafted No. 9 overall by Washington in 2005, Rogers has 26 tackles in 2012. He’s started all but three of the 90 games he played in since 2006 and was a 2011 Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection.

LB Ashton Richardson “overwhelmed with a sense of humility” as Rhodes Scholar Finalist

AUBURN, Ala. — Senior linebacker Ashton Richardson has been named a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest international fellowships available to college students to complete graduate work at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

“I was definitely overjoyed about it,” Richardson said. “Going into this whole process, I didn’t really understand how big of a deal it was. But as I learned more about it, I realized this really is a life-changing thing.”

A famous past Rhodes Scholarship winner was former Florida State safety Myron Rolle, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft after spending the 2009-10 academic year at Oxford.

“Actually, I learned a great bit about him. He’s been a great inspiration for me going through this process,” Richardson said. “I also remember being in high school watching the way he competed on the film, so I admired him as an athlete as well as an academia.”

Richardson is an Honors College student and animal sciences major (pre-veterinary medicine) in the College of Agriculture, with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.94. A three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member, he was named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation Campbell Trophy earlier this year.

“To Auburn, Ashton is a true ‘scholar-athlete,'” animal sciences professor Dale Coleman said. “But to the world, Ashton is so much more — a true gentleman and a true humanitarian.”

Growing up helping his father raise quarter-horses, Richardson wants to become an equine surgeon.

“I am an aspiring veterinarian, but studying at Oxford would be a tremendous opportunity to pursue my dream of using my education to give back,” Richardson said. “These scholarships are set up to prepare individuals to ‘fight the world’s fight.'”

The interview is in Birmingham Nov. 16-17, meaning Richardson might not be available for the Alabama A&M game depending on timing. A New Orleans native, Richardson could have interviewed in his home state, but wanted to give himself a chance to be available for Auburn’s weekend game.

“The majority of my life will be after football. So if anyone can take anything from my journey, I would want them to see that your life after football is still very important,” Richardson said. “While you’re here, we should take advantage of all the resources we have to promote that, to promote our life after football.”

Richardson has played in 32 career games, registering 13 tackles. He walked on to the Tigers as a freshman and was put on scholarship before his junior season.

Coach Gene Chizik opened Tuesday’s news conference by congratulating Richardson on “a great honor.”

“That is an unbelievable accomplishment for a great young man,” Chizik said. “We wish him well on that, and we hope he wins the opportunity. That’s great for him.”

One concern

Another week, another off-field distraction.

USA Today’s Danny Sheridan made some remarks to AL.com on Monday, indicating that two Auburn assistant coaches have been pulled from recruiting on the road during an NCAA investigation.

When asked about it, Chizik reiterated his standard approach.

“I don’t have time for all of that,” Chizik said. “I’ve got one direct focus: that is my team and my players. That has nothing to do with us winning. Whoever said what has nothing to do with anything, so I am not getting into any of that stuff.”

Take the ball?

Chizik was asked about his rationale for deferring to the second half against Texas A&M after winning the coin flip — giving the football immediately to Johnny Manziel and the Aggies’ high-octane offense. Auburn’s defense has struggled mightily on opening drives this year.

“Do you think we should do that? It might help, right?” Chizik said, with a smile. “We have actually had that very discussion. To be honest with you, I like to be on defense first traditionally, all things being equal … it really hasn’t quite panned out like we expected it to, so we’ve thought about that.”

From the infirmary

Cornerback Chris Davis suffered a concussion “a couple of weeks ago,” Chizik said. His status is day-to-day.

October 30, 2012

Chris Denson academically ineligible; Tigers offense busts out in exhibition opener

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn junior guard and Shaw product Chris Denson is academically ineligible for the fall semester, coach Tony Barbee announced Tuesday before the Tigers’ 108-57 exhibition win over Victory University at Auburn Arena.

Denson may practice, but can’t play in intersquad scrimmages or games until after first-semester grades clear. The Tigers have seven games in November, and following the last day of final exams Dec. 7, there are five more games in December.

“He’s got some goals he’s got to meet academically. He knows what those are,” Barbee said postgame. “He’s focused on meeting those, and he’s been working extremely hard. I fully expect he’ll be back and ready for us second semester.”

Auburn’s No. 2 returning scorer, Denson chipped in 8.7 points in 22.3 minutes per game last year. He started eight games in 2011-12, making 36.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Denson averaged 24 points per game at Shaw as a senior and scored 1,049 career points.

At least for one night, the Tigers didn’t miss Denson’s offense, shooting 57 percent from the floor. They topped the century mark for the first time in any exhibition or game since Nov. 29, 2003 – a 105-56 victory over Grambling State.

Senior center Rob Chubb, towering over shorter Eagles opponents, finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Last year’s leading scorer, senior Frankie Sullivan, put in 11 first-half points while first-year guard Brian Greene Jr., joining the program from a Florida prep academy, handed out 12 assists.

Auburn’s other three freshmen – Shaq Johnson, Jordan Price and Jordon Granger – each scored double digits, combining for 41 points on 17-of-22 shooting.

“The freshmen are game-ready already,” Chubb said. “We’ve got veterans that have been through the wars, so we’re going to shelter them and keep them on the right track. It’s going to be a great year.”

The Tigers’ next tuneup is Monday at 7 p.m. against Georgia Southwestern State, followed by the season opener Nov. 9 vs. IPFW at Auburn Arena.


“It’s a tremendous blessing”: Central product Jonathan Wallace to make first start at QB

AUBURN, Ala. – No external punishment was necessary when Auburn quarterback Jonathan Wallace fumbled the football two Saturdays ago at Vanderbilt.

Wallace took care of that with some self-direction. The very next day, the freshman could be found running heated drills through the ‘Blaster’ – a tackling mechanism used to exercise ball security – without pads, in regular clothes.

By himself.

Sophomore tailback Tre Mason, Auburn’s best offensive weapon this year, took note.

Teammates have constantly and publically admired Wallace’s work ethic in the few months since he arrived from Central-Phenix City.

They’re ready to back their guy as Wallace becomes the Tigers’ third different starting quarterback in 2012 when New Mexico State visits Saturday for Auburn’s Homecoming weekend.

“Jonathan knows the offense inside and out,” senior receiver Emory Blake said. “No shakiness at all. He’s a leader on the field and in the huddle. He’s always been like that.”

Wallace will become Auburn’s fourth true freshman to start at quarterback in the past 40 years, and first since 2007 when Kodi Burns defeated – ironically – New Mexico State 55-20.

“Jonathan’s very mature beyond his years,” said head coach Gene Chizik, after making the announcement official Tuesday. “He was up here all day yesterday on his own just watching film – not that that’s the first day he’s done that. He’s just a little bit different. He’s not into all of the fluff; he just loves football.”

Playing in the past five games primarily as a Wildcat quarterback, Wallace’s role increased incrementally after debuting against LSU on Sept. 22. Following his first opportunity and knowing he wouldn’t redshirt, Wallace cranked up his studying.

“You can’t take a day off in this league. That’s the only way you’re going to have an edge,” Wallace said. “With that work ethic, I was able to grasp onto a lot of things more quickly than people may have expected. It’s been working, so I’m going to stay on that road.”

Less than nine months ago, Wallace appeared headed to Central Florida before flipping his commitment to Auburn on Feb. 1. Now, he’s a starting quarterback in the SEC – and he’ll soon take on No. 6 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama if he keeps the job.

“Ultimately, it’s a tremendous blessing,” Wallace said. “(My parents told me) no matter what happens, stay humble and rely on God to take care of me. That’s really what they’ve raised me with.”

Tight end C.J. Uzomah dropped the “first one here, last one to leave” label on Wallace, who admitted he tirelessly reviews as much video evaluation as possible – whether offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and his fellow quarterbacks are present or not.

“If I ever find any other time to get in the film room, then I’m trying to watch some on my own,” Wallace said. “I think that really benefits (me) having that discipline of going in and being able to watch some on my own.”

Sophomore Kiehl Frazier – who Chizik named Wallace’s backup – is still recovering from an arm injury, and junior Clint Moseley did not practice Tuesday with a bad ankle.

Wallace earned the job in part due to the injuries and ineffectiveness plaguing Auburn’s veterans, as well as his poise presented in Saturday’s 63-21 loss to Texas A&M. The Aggies played prevent defense in the second half, but Wallace took what was given, completing 6-of-9 attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

“This will be a little different for him because the playbook will expand some; not that he hasn’t been in the meetings and hearing it and seeing it,” Chizik said. “But now he has the opportunity to be the starter and have to execute all of those things.”

Wallace made his mark largely by calmly avoiding the pass rush and keeping the offense coordinated, even with a large deficit. On Saturday, he’ll get his shot from the opening kick.

“He has ‘it’. We don’t know what ‘it’ is, but it’s something not a lot of people have,” Mason said. “He came in ready to go. It seems like he’s done this before, like he has the mindset of a senior who’s been here a while.

“We really do need a spark. Maybe he can do the job.”

Barbee, Tigers hope third year’s a charm

Photo by Todd Van Emst

AUBURN, Ala. — Having dug in to his new environment the past two season, Auburn men’s basketball coach Tony Barbee won’t settle for less in year three.

“Nobody can put a higher expectation on my program or myself than my players or myself,” Barbee said at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., last week.”With that being said, we just want to step forward and keep the momentum going. From year one to year two we got better and had more wins, more conference wins, a higher RPI, a higher strength of schedule, and we want to keep that momentum going this year.”

The Tigers went 15-16 overall and 5-11 in the SEC last year, both slight improvements from Barbee’s maiden voyage as a head coach.

Barbee didn’t throw out a number on how many victories he expects out of the Tigers in the 2012-13 season, but he won’t allow for a defeatist attitude. In a preseason poll, the media selected Auburn to finish 12th in the 14-team SEC standings.

“When I talk about expectations, I don’t want to talk about the number of wins because whenever I look at our schedule, I don’t see a game we are going to lose. That’s how I look at things.

“It’s going to be a fun year for us. Practice has been competitive and spirited. We have a lot of positive things going on and we are excited about the year.”

The Tigers will be captained by 6-foot-1, 206-pound fifth-year guard Frankie Sullivan, who led Auburn in scoring, 3-pointers, free-throw shooting and steals last year bouncing back from left knee surgery and a medical hardship his junior year.

“Frankie Sullivan is finally able to play at 100-percent,” Barbee said. “I can’t remember the last time he missed a shot in practice. He’s been playing really well.”

Rob Chubb, who started every game last year at center, looks to be the Tigers’ top rebounder after putting on 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason.

The senior class is rounded out by role-playing guards Josh Wallace and Noel Johnson, and walk-on Dylan Spencer.

“This has been the strongest leadership I’ve had since I’ve been at Auburn,” Barbee said. “That’s a part of building a program, which is the reason why I came to Auburn. I know we’re starting to get there when the players that have been with me for two years are finishing my sentences before I finish them. When I start to see those veteran players comfortable in their own skin now and coaching the younger guys, it’s a great start.”

Auburn plays its first exhibition tonight against Victory University at 7 p.m. at Auburn Arena. The season and home opener is Nov. 9 against IPFW before the Tigers head to the Charleston Classic in South Carolina.

Auburn’s SEC opener is Jan. 9, hosting LSU. Other key home dates include Jan. 19 vs. defending national champion and No. 3-ranked Kentucky, Feb. 6 against Alabama and Feb. 16 vs. No. 10 Florida.

October 29, 2012

Home cooking: Full 2013 schedule revealed

AUBURN, Ala. — This season got off to a rough start, in part when Auburn hit the road for its first two games and waited until mid-September to greet its home fans.

There will be no such obstacle next year, as revealed by the finalization of Auburn’s 2013 out-of-conference football schedule. Mike Leach-led Washington State will oppose Auburn in the opener, with Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic rounding out the non-SEC portion of the Tigers’ schedule – all at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Five of Auburn’s first six games are at home, with the lone exception coming Sept. 21 with a trip to LSU.

The current combined record of Auburn’s 2013 non-conference opponents is 10-23. Only Arkansas State (5-3) is on the plus side, led by first-year coach Gus Malzahn after he served as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator for three years.

Wazzu (2-6) last traveled to Auburn for the 2006 opener, in which the Tigers eased to a 40-14 victory. The Cougars, from the Pac-12 and the Tigers’ only major-conference opponent next year outside the SEC, are 11-46 over the past five seasons.

Western Carolina is 1-8 overall and 0-7 in the Southern Conference, an FCS league. Florida Atlantic (2-6) belongs to the Sun Belt Conference.

All four school contracts are believed to be 1-year deals.

Jacksonville State was originally on next year’s schedule, but Auburn associate athletic director Kirk Sampson said “a scheduling conflict could not be resolved.” According to a Jacksonville State release, the matchup was scheduled for Oct. 9, 2013, but the reshuffling of SEC schedules dictated Auburn’s trip to Texas A&M on that date.

Auburn will still have to pay the FCS school a guaranteed check, per Jacksonville State’s release.

The two bye weeks on next year’s schedule, Sept. 28 and Nov. 23, precede home games against Ole Miss and Alabama.

A-Day, Auburn’s spring game, will take place on April 20, 2013.


Aug. 31          WASHINGTON STATE                              

Sept. 7            ARKANSAS STATE

Sept. 14         MISSISSIPPI STATE

Sept. 21         at Louisiana State

Oct. 5              OLE MISS

Oct. 12            WESTERN CAROLINA

Oct. 19            at Texas A&M

Oct. 26            FLORIDA ATLANTIC

Nov. 2             at Arkansas

Nov. 9             at Tennessee

Nov. 16          GEORGIA

Nov. 30          ALABAMA

Open Dates: Sept. 28, Nov. 23


Missed it? Replay today’s live chat

From Bobby Petrino to Charlie Strong, from Willie Taggart to David Cutcliffe, all kinds of names were tossed around for who would be an interesting prospect if Auburn were to make a coaching change this year. Plus, we did touch on some current football topics on the Tigers as well.

October 28, 2012

Chizik encourages fans to stick with Tigers; speaks proudly of QB Wallace’s test run

AUBURN, Ala. – In postgame comments following Auburn’s last two home games – losses to Arkansas and Texas A&M – head coach Gene Chizik said he didn’t pay attention to the hordes of empty seats vacated by upset fans before the final whistle.

But when he watches film – as he did copiously Sunday – he couldn’t help but notice.

“We’ve got great fans, but they also want to see us win. I think that’s fair,” Chizik said. “I do want to encourage them that there will be a better day. Our guys are young guys learning how to win.

“Obviously, last night, we didn’t give them a lot of reason to stay.”

Chizik reiterated his intentional ignorance on swirling talk of his job security, which has resounded everywhere from fan message boards to the set of ESPN’s College Football Final.

“Although I respect everybody’s opinion, I don’t have time to investigate into that,” Chizik said. “I’m sure that there’s a lot of upset fans. When you’re 1-7, that comes with the territory.”

Chizik was asked if he’s always taken that approach: insulating from the outside world when times are tough.

“Yeah, but it’s the only option at times when you’re undefeated too,” said Chizik, who has been on staff for three undefeated squads in the last decade. “When you’re great, everybody loves you and it’s all rosy. I’ve been on a lot of those teams, too. I don’t change and listen to it when it’s good and not listen to it when it’s bad. You do your job, and that is not part of your job in this profession, in my opinion.”

The 2010 AP National Coach of the year doesn’t believe he needs to use his past successes as a campaign to save his job.

“I don’t feel compelled to remind anybody about that,” Chizik said. “It’s not about me. It’s really not. Every day, it’s about our players.”

The worn-down Tigers did not practice Sunday, trying to recover from injuries. When breaking down his team’s 63-21 defeat to Texas A&M Saturday, Chizik noted “focus is an issue” with foolish presnap penalties like illegal shifts, offsides and punt formations, which popped up plenty against the Aggies.

“As coaches we could have put them in better positions to make plays, and also as players when you’re in a position to make plays, (we’re) not making those plays,” Chizik said. “Going back and doing a thorough self-evaluation of a very tough game, it’s hard.”

Auburn had never given up 63 points at home before, one of many indignities staining the school record books with Saturday’s futility.
“I haven’t studied the record books exactly,” Chizik said, “but when you play in a game like that, you have to know historically it’s somewhere at the very bottom.”

The lone bright spot was true freshman Jonathan Wallace, the Central-Phenix City quarterback product who completed 6-of-9 passes for 122 yards and a pair of 27-yard touchdowns in relief mostly against Texas A&M backups.

Chizik didn’t use the “starter” title with Wallace when addressing the Tigers’ final four games, but indicated he’s firmly in the running to lead the offense Saturday against New Mexico State. Clint Moseley (ankle) and Kiehl Frazier (arm) are each less than 100 percent.

“He’ll be in strong consideration for playing time on a full-time basis,” Chizik said. “When we put together the health of all the quarterbacks we’ll see where we’re at.”

Chizik did speak glowingly of Wallace’s progress.

“Number one, he was very patient when he threw the football,” Chizik said. Even though there might have been some pass rush around him, he stood back in the pocket and he threw it without really working about where the rush was.

“He fumbled the ball two times last week (at Vanderbilt); he came back and he was very adamant about protecting the ball every time he carried it. I thought he made very good decisions.”

Wallace’s intelligence and preparedness, compared with Frazier’s and Moseley’s compared ineffectiveness, may force the Auburn coaches’ hand.

“When you get a young guy in a game, you don’t know how it’s going to unfold. So it was very nice to see him under some sort of duress be able to have some success,” Chizik said. “The time that he’s put in on his own, in his willingness to do what he has to do to get on the field and compete, is really the reason he’s put himself in this position.”