6) Ryan Russell, strength and conditioning coach
By Aaron Brenner
Don’t scoff at the No. 6 placement. How about some numbers for you: 69 and 6. Sixty-nine fourth-quarter points allowed in the first eight games of 2012. Six fourth-quarter points scored in the first eight games of 2012. It’s almost too incredible to believe: just two field goals in 200 crunch-time minutes, and a whole bucket of points allowed in that same time frame. Pride and passion have something to do with it. But the rash of injuries indicates endurance plays a role too.
Say what you want about Kevin Yoxall; plenty of former Auburn players did when he was dismissed, and they were none too pleased. https://twitter.com/lutzenkirchen/status/276831786707857408 But the current Tigers say they love Russell – a one-time Auburn assistant brought over with the Gus Malzahn parade from Arkansas State – and his rampaging ways and trademark howl during “flex” periods keep the intensity high during a dogged practice. We’ve seen some fairly daunting weight changes, both gains and losses, among several players who were previously too light or too heavy for their position. Even if most his work is done in the offseason rather than the fall, Russell’s program is critical to leveling that horrific 69-6 mark. Absolutely critical.