Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More coachspeak

So we covered most of Taylor's and Roof's comments to the press last Friday, but several other members of Auburn's new staff have since had their turn at the reporter's mic and it's time to catch up.

Luper (via Bitter, Goldberg, Woodbery)

--I know I'm a complete mental case (trust me, I know), but for some reason I find myself totally fired up by this picture:

I don't know if it's the glasses, the immaculately shaved head, the giant computer screen, the sunlight streaming into the highly-organized office or what, but ... dude, doesn't Luper just look like a guy who knows exactly what he's doing? I'm pretty sure if I'd walked in just as this picture was being taken and Luper had stood, shaken my hand, and started talking to me about how he had an investment opportunity that was totally not a pyramid scheme, I'd be out several thousand dollars by now. Seriously: how much more confidence-inspiring is Luper's professional appearance than someone like Tony Franklin?

--The big story is obviously that Luper plans on having seven different coaches blanket Alabama. "We'll split the state up into seven areas, basically, in counties. Two down south, one has Montgomery, two up north, one has Birmingham. And then basically one that's Lee County and Columbus and LaGrange," he said. Fine. Cool. Get the guys you need. Don't care how you do it. (I appreciated the military "border" metaphor as well, though it doesn't really work when you realize that closing off our border means that we're now sharing an even-more limited space with our greatest enemy. But hey, the mindset's welcome.)

--After some of the negative character stuff that seemed to trail along after Chizik in the wake of his departure from ISU, it's always nice to hear someone stand up for the Chiz as wholeheartedly as Luper does.

--Bit of an odd thing, from Bitter's post:
Luper liked the toughness of Auburn's returning backs, Ben Tate, Mario Fannin and Eric Smith: "They're tough, physical runners which is what you need in this conference. The defenses, here, dominate this conference. Very seldom does one guy carry the load in this conference. I guess maybe Knowshon Moreno last year is one that I can think of. He alone had 250 carries and 1,400 yards or whatever he had.So we're going to use multiple backs, but those two in particular are tough, downhill runners, deceptive speed. You'll see them this spring. They'll be better than they were last year."
Emphasis mine, because Luper's apparently not talking about all three of the backs Bitter mentioned. The guess is that he's discussing Tate and Fannin, because, well, those are the two returning guys who you'd expect to see major carries this year. Doubt this means anything for Smith, though, of course.

--No, I'm not expecting the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. But there's nothing wrong with aiming high ... or with acknowledging that if someone's keeping score, you might as well try to win. (By the way, I'm pretty sure Luper's the first coach I've ever heard refer to recruiting rankings as something other than a tool of the devil. Going back to the picture, this strikes me as a wonderfully rational response. Getting guys who can think on staff is definitely not a bad thing.)

--As for the new RBs, Luper kind of confirmed the general consensus: Jacobs is big, McCalebb is fast, and Aycock is versatile. Worth noting that Demond Washington will likely start at RB. Reading between the lines on his comments regarding Malzahn's system--"His system calls for a lot of versatility. Guys are multiple, move them around ... The most multiple players give him the opportunity to really move them around and keep defenses off balance"--you have to wonder if it gives Aycock and Washington a slight leg up.

Rocker (Bitter, Goldberg, Woodbery)

--Bitter flat pwned the other beat guys on the "You like coaching the entire line, or just the ends or tackles?" question. Goldberg just gives us "I prefer the challenge. If it goes wrong, blame me" where Bitter gives us this much more nuanced, intriguing take:
"Everywhere I've been I've had the whole front and I just prefer the challenge to be on me. If it goes wrong, blame me, if not, I have to look over at someone else and wonder what happened. I just prefer it that way and I think it brings more camaraderie in the room. Everyone skins a cat differently. My way isn't always the right way, but that's what I prefer."
Emphasis mine because, gee, do you think it's possible Chizik listened to Rocker and adjusted his potential staffing plans accordingly (and thus giving us two guys in the secondary instead of on the line)? After last year's offensive staffing meltdown, this seems like such a novel idea.

--Enjoyed the "I'm not going to say anything that's going to make headlines, but yeah, James Willis kinda sucks" non-response.

--Terrific set of responses in regards to the new recruits. Reading between the lines: he really, really likes Eguae (I think I'm about two more interviews from writing a sitcom parody called "Everybody Loves Nosa"), but Fairley and Coleman are the guys who might see time this year.

--Lots of comments about health and playing through pain, which isn't too surprising given that he sees depth--also, not surprising--as Auburn's biggest concern up front. That no DT other than Blanc or Ricks seemed to get a name-drop isn't entirely encouraging, though I suppose that'll change after spring practice.

More Chizik, Taylor

--Starting the 2010 recruiting process with offensive lineman is "a no-brainer." Glad we're on the same page, Gene.

--Maybe I'm reading a little too far into it, but my sense is that Chizik's terribly, terribly glad to have the madness of Signing Day and the difficulties of ironing out the staff behind him. From Bitter:
"I'm at the point in the process that there's so many administrative issues that I'm handling, and won't be able to really delve into those type of things for a little bit longer, and then I'll be able to jump into it full bore," he said. "But there's too many other things going on right now, but if I had my wishes, I'd have already watched the season three or four times, but I haven't had the chance to do that yet. It'll get to that point."
"Administrative issues" in the international language of football coaches always means "crap I only deal with because I have to." There's a lot of talk (and some evident frustration, I think) about getting everybody "on the same page" and making every sure everything's organized properly before things really start churning forward ... which would also help explain why Chizik's response when Willis gets mentioned is, uh, less than cordial.

--Sorry, can't take the "last go-round" comment at assembling a staff at face value. Nice of him to say, but c'mon, we're two months into this thing.

--I missed this the first go-round, but Taylor's cleaning-lady anecdote is worth a read. Not because it really means anything about Auburn football, exactly, but it's another nice example of how maybe Chizik wasn't quite the sleazebag he was made out to be when he took off from Ames.

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