Monday, August 04, 2008

The Works, actual newzzzzz-style

Sharon Stone supports DeRon Furr.

Hooray, they've started practicing! Have they, uh, practiced anything important yet? Maybe it's just that my bloodhunger for actual football has reached the stage where a rain-delayed practice--like the cracker-with-cheese at 5:30 p.m. intended to tide you over until your 7 p.m. dinner just makes you realize you want your dinner now dammit now--feels like a wholly inadequate substitute for the real thing, but there doesn't seem to have been much of substance to come out of the Auburn's reporting day and first couple of practices. Yep, Todd and Burns are still battling to be the starter. Yep, the wideouts love them some Spread Eagle. Yep, Reggie Hunt is still floating through the NCAA Clearinghouse limbo.

That's not to say that those stories are completely lacking in import--it's nice to know Rod Smith has faith in Franklin's system, good to hear Burns say he and Todd get along, always nice to have an injury update on the likes of Tez Doolittle. The opening of fall practice also means we get a lot more worthwhile player profiles, like this one from the already-invaluable David Ching on D'Antoine Hood's sudden rise from no-name recruit to "expected freshman contributor." (Did you know he was Rod Hood's cousin? Positive sign, that.)

But the only bit of potentially capital-S Substantial news is, of course, this bizarro Deron Furr situation. As you likely know already, Furr (the allegedly freakishly athletic freshman safety-nee-quarterback) got into a dustup with the other DB's at the end of Saturday's practice, then no-showed Sunday. Ching's report that Furr spent Sunday studying for Monday's finals seems to be the best explanation going at the moment, though FWIW Auburntron's "auburn_jenks" used his first-ever post at the site to rumormonger to opposite (i.e. "he's gone") effect. The guess here: this all blows over in a few days, and by next week when we all get together for a pint or five at the local pub we'll have a good hearty chuckle through our beards about it.

One other link related to practice you should probably take a gander at is WRAS's on-site report, which I appreciate for reinforcing my belief (backed up elsewhere with glowing reports regarding Zac Etheridge) that the Auburn secondary, if healthy, will be one of the best in the SEC. (I also appreciated knowing that Lee Ziemba is wearing a Sasha Vujacic-type headband. Sweet.)

UPDATE: Naturally, not more than a couple hours after I post that "if healthy" bit without tossing a pinch of salt over my shoulder, Savage got carted off with what could be anything from a torn ACL to nothing. Hooray. Nothing like the thinnest position on the team getting dealt the first injury blow of the year.

Also making yours truly's crystal ball look even cloudier than usual was Tubby's rather obvious ... uh ... dissatisfaction with the Furr situation, which you can see for your own self at the 50-second mark of this OA-News video. You can also see that at the end of a hot practice, Auburn coach Tommy Tubberville enjoys the cool, crisp taste of Gatorade.

Backlash. As mentioned previously, even the JCCW was a bit taken aback when the media not only picked Auburn to take the SEC West but did so by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Not surprisingly, that choice has raised a few eyebrows across the SEC bloggitysphere, for which I can't exactly blame anyone: if there's any on-paper margin at all between LSU and Auburn, it's thinner than piano wire. (SMQ essentially took LSU over Auburn this week, too.)

Of course, while there are good reasons out there to back LSU, the factors in Auburn's favor aren't exactly spun out of cotton candy and gossamer daydreams, either; they're obvious enough they even get covered here, and if we're talking specifically about the media vote, it's worth noting that simple not-them-again LSU fatigue probably has as much to do with the margin as, say, the relative quarterback situations. For argument's sake, though, here's three more quick reasons past the J-Hare/no-more-Cox/no-more-Flynn knee-jerk stuff to take Auburn in the preseason biggest SEC West game of the year:

1. No special teams deficit. LSU took both the 2007 and 2005 meetings after disastrous Auburn breakdowns on special teams (a punt return in '05, Byrum's three-yard pooch kickoff last year). As explosive as Trindon Holliday is and as generally reliable as Colt David has become, a healthy trio of Tristan Davis, Byrum, and Shoemaker should mean that even if Auburn doesn't have a ST advantage, they won't have a disadvantage, either.

2. Luck. Miles's game-winning deep toss was the right call, but it doesn't change the fact that an incompletion followed by a David miss was almost as likely an outcome as what happened. If there are to be breaks--and this series seems to hinge on them more than any other I can think of--it's Auburn's turn to get them.

3. LSU's pre-Auburn schedule won't help them. Appalachian St. has the name, they're almost certainly better than LSU Week 3 opponent North Texas, and they're likely just about as good as Week 2 foe Troy--but there's no way facing the Mountaineers, Trojans, or Mean Green will be a substitute for taking on Auburn on the road, who'll have already tangled with Southern Miss and Miss. St. by then. It may give LSU more or an opportunity to scout ahead, but overall I think this is advantage AU.

Of course, if you don't like all this fancy analysis stuff, you could turn towards Alabama's most preeminent sportswriter and learn that Auburn will beat LSU because it's an even-numbered year.

The PPP steams along. If you haven't clicked over recently, the Paperless Preview Project has been updated a few times since its debut and will be so again first thing tomorrow morning to include CFN's surprisingly sagacious look at Auburn. (How many national commentators would realize the secondary was better than the pass rush?) Already available at the PPP is Auburn's Rivals preview and of course dozens and dozens of other preview links. Please continue to enjoy.


Acid Reign said...

.....The most alarming Auburn news I read over the weekend was that Aaron Savage got lit up for two 80-yard touchdowns in the first practice. Remember 1995 practice notes, when it was Larry Melton? We know how that year turned out! We could sling it, but we had a LOT of trouble stopping folks...

Anonymous said...

Well, don't worry about it. Aairon was carted off the field today in an air cast. Let's hope it was just precautionary. Regardless of opinions on Savage's abilities, we aren't exactly stacked at corner.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Likewise, however much Savage might struggle making the adjustment to corner, I'd feel a lot better with him out there than having to bring a freshman (even one the coaches like like Hood) on the field in a nickel to line up over, say, Brandon LaFell. Here's to hoping he's OK.

Acid Reign said...

.....And clearly, the coaches think Savage will be the best one to start opposite Powers. And down he went. I'm hoping he's ok, too. When I watched the A-Day game, Savage was just a step off. Not badly off, and he does have the speed to play the position.

.....Assignment-wise, corner is one of the easier positions on the defense. You've got the outside guy. The only real question is whether you've got safety help over the top, or not. While coaching and experience can fine-tune a few things, you've got the speed and moves to stay with the receiver, or you don't.

.....We've stuck really young ones out there before, and been ok. (Montae Pitts, and Kevin Hobbs come to mind.) The question with the corners now is, who can run?