I guess I'm one of the few people (i.e. "nerds") who actually kind of dig the "If you're keeping score at home ..." complexity of it all. I won't be at the game, alas, but if I were, I'd totally have my scoresheet out and be following along on a notepad or something. Then again, I also went through a phase of keeping proper scorecards for Braves games when I was seven, so I'm well aware how firmly in the minority I am.
More recommended A-Day reading: Acid Reign and Jay G. Tate both supply worthwhile lists on what to watch for at the game. Me? It's all about the quarterbacking, which might be limited to Burns or might not be. Whoever plays, here's to hoping we get some shred of hope out of it.
One other thing: if you're going to be on the Plains and you've got some time to kill, you should think about checking out the track meet that's going to be held the same day. If you've never been to a track meet, the spectator experience is kind of like baseball--laid-back and casual, with plenty of time to just sit in the sunshine before brief bursts of (usually exciting) action, and obviously you don't need a deep and intricate knowledge of the sport to enjoy people running really, really damn fast. I recommend them.
Also on Saturday: live performance by DUNNCITY! He'll be performing "internet sensation" "Goose and Patron"! I don't think I've ever had a hand in turning something into an Internet sensation before, so that's cool.
News. A quick follow-up to yesterday's item that we're going to have to wait until the fall to find out who's Auburn's starting quarterback, which was greeted in the comments here, at least, with frustration: this is how it goes when you've gone through four different coordinators and/or quarterback coaches in three seasons and the first two of those did nothing to develop the quarterbacks currently battling for the job and the third was one Steve Ensminger. This can't be emphasized enough: Caudle and Burns are both starting from something close to scratch in the eyes of the current staff. Neither one was ever going to shine so brightly over the course of just three weeks of practice that the other would just fade away.
As for Auburn's injury list, it looks daunting, and it sucks for the fans who are going to be in attendance that guys like Etheridge, Slade, Carter, and E. Smith won't be able to go ... but it's still just a practice. Missing it's not that big a deal. Everyone's still locked and loaded for the fall, and that's the important thing. (As Tommie Thigpen will tell you.) And hey, not only that, but it sounds like Darrell Roseman might actually be around in the fall camp, so maybe we won't actually have to have that inflatable Bop Bag on the two-deep after all.
Of course, if we can outfit the Bop Bag with a pair of crude, makeshift hands, maybe it can move to wide receiver. Because it turns out Montez Billings isn't hurt after all, but on some kind of double secret academic probation. That's three guys--Billings, Gabe McKenzie, and Kyle Coulahan--who have missed the spring for transparently avoidable reasons and may not return (particularly in Coulahan's case, to judge by the beat writers' description of it), all of them at some of the thinnest positions on the roster. AAAAARRRRGGGHHH.
At that same Andy Bitter link above: Byrum and Durst currently have what seem like fairly firm grips on their respective positions, which is kind of comforting.
Fannin. Even he can't even tell you what position he plays. And in the meantime, every time Onterio McCalebb's name gets brought up the phrase "two or three long runs" isn't trailing too far behind. I trust that Malzahn isn't going to let a weapon like Fannin go to waste, but man, I just can't say I'm comfortable with where this is going, either. The further we delve into the unknown with this coaching staff, the more and more I hate Tony Franklin for turning every vaguely unusual offensive decision into something that feels like it's going to go horribly wrong as opposed to something that might go very, very right. Bah.
UCLA revisited. Jay Coulter writes things I agree with:
Forget the lame arguments being made by Jacobs for not playing the Bruins. Do you honestly believe that Arkansas State would have a problem rescheduling its game with Auburn for the following season if they were guaranteed nearly $1 million? Why not throw them a bone and offer to play them for two years if they agree to the change?Intelligent people can differ on this one--and certainly, if you're thinking that Auburn might actually have a national title run in them that season (I do not) it wouldn't help Auburn's odds--but the long-term benefits here are just too great to pass up. (Also, I'm not sure at all that Auburn would lose all that much money on the UCLA game. As Jay mentions Arkansas St. can probably be worked around, ESPN's offering $500,000 straight up from what we understand, and Auburn would keep half the gate at the Dome. Yeah, it's not as lucrative as a straight home game, but is going from 8 to 7.5 home games really that much of a financial burden?)
It hurts to say it, but simply put, Auburn officials wimped out.
Don't give me this crap that Auburn plays Clemson two weeks later and two tough non-conference opponents are too much. Who says that UCLA or Clemson will be much better than they were this past season? Lord knows Auburn should be better.
I'll remind Coach Chizik that Pat Dye, a man who's apparently a mentor to him, played Texas, Florida State and Maryland during the 1983 SEC Championship Season. All three of those non-conference teams were in the top 20. That season established Auburn as the dominant power in the SEC and things stayed that way for almost a decade.
Diamond dust. Oh, Auburn fans, don't get your hopes up. Looking over the Tigers' past three SEC series, Auburn's gone 5-4. But the total margin of victory in those five wins is seven runs; the margin of defeat in the four losses is 40 runs. This is a team that is much more lucky than good at the moment. Of course, because we're going by SEC standards, the Tigers are still in good position to make the NCAA Tournament. I just wouldn't expect much of a surge down the stretch.
While we're on the subject of baseball, a hearty War Eagle to Auburn baseball legend Paul Nix, who passed away this week.
Etc. As you've already seen somewhere along the line, Gene Chizik earned the Tony Barnhart seal of approval, for whatever that's worth ... Auburntron compares Burns's and Todd's 2008 seasons from a statistical standpoint ... and at the Pigskin Pathos, Ben wonders if maybe Chizik is accidentally making practice more pressure-filled.
This is all for today. Enjoy A-Day, everyone, and I'll be back with a bonus post sometime this weekend to make up for my absences this week.