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Thursday, April 18, 2013

A-Day provides first glimpse of revamped Auburn Tigers Lance Davis WRITER

Auburn fans will get their first chance to see the retooled and revamped Auburn football team on A-Day. After a 3-9 campaign that led to the exit of Gene Chizik and his coaching staff, Auburn looks to tap into the high-octane offense of former offensive coordinator now head coach Gus Malzahn and his hand-picked cast of assistants. A spring game isn’t the ideal setting for displaying the offense. Things are still in the tinkering stage with Malzahn’s nohuddle, high-tempo offense, and the defense will likely steal the show. Auburn struggled in most facets of the game last season, but the passing attack struggled the most. The Tigers finished next to last in the SEC in passing efficiency with 156.6 yards per game. Junior Kiehl Frazier and sophomore Jonathan Wallace have been splitting first-team reps all spring, and the coaches insist there isn’t any separation between the two. Auburn will have three more quarterbacks arrive in the summer—Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson and Jason Smith—so it’s unlikely Frazier or Wallace will be named starter at the conclusion of spring practices. But a strong showing on A-Day could be a springboard for whichever one has the best performance. The quest for a threat at receiver will continue through the spring. Junior Jaylon Denson, who caught one pass for 12 yards last season, has been the biggest surprise of the receivers. Sophomores Ricardo Louis and Sammie Coates could provide deep threats on the outside. Junior running back Tre Ma-

RAYE MAY / PHOTO EDITOR

Junior kicker Steven Clark, 30, practices on Wednesday, April 17. son will be the workhorse in the backfield next season, but the 1,000-yard rusher from a year ago will probably be limited for A-Day. He’s been dealing with an injury for most of spring practices. With Mason limited, be prepared to see a heavy dose of juniors Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne, as they battle for the backup running back spot. Auburn’s defense allowed a whopping 420.5 yards per game last season, ranked 13th in the SEC. Malzahn brought in Ellis Johnson, known for his 4-2-5 defense, to be defensive coordinator. Auburn intercepted two passes last season, and the secondary caught none of them. Despite the lack of production, the cornerbacks seem to be the strongest group on defense. Johnson called them the “most pleasing position” this spring, and cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith challenged them to lead the SEC in interceptions. Perhaps the most surprising player in spring practices has been junior Justin Garrett. Garrett has been tabbed to play the Star position, a hybrid lineback-

er-safety position in Johnson’s defense that requires roaming all over the field. The defensive line will be a solid rotation of experienced players. Jeffrey Whitaker, Dee Ford, Angelo Blackson and Gabe Wright figure to be key members of the rotation but most of Auburn’s two-deep along the defensive line won’t arrive on campus until the fall when the freshmen are added into the mix. Jake Holland, Kris Frost and Cassanova McKinzy have been rotating on the first team of linebackers. Holland is the most experienced of the group, but he has a class that interferes with some of the spring practices, leaving the door open for the linebackers below him. Malzahn’s high-tempo offense will be on display for the fans in attendance. It will be interesting to see whether Johnson gets creative with his 4-2-5 defense and challenges the quarterbacks, or keeps it simple and operates out of the simpler plays. However the format plays out, fans just want to see progress from last season, one that was worth forgetting.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

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The Malzahn era: what the new staff has accomplished so far John Burns SPORTS EDITOR

Gus Malzahn was hired as the head coach of the Auburn football team December 4, 2012 in the wake of former coach Gene Chizik’s 3–9 (0–8 SEC) season and subsequent firing. Malzahn brings his familiarity with the Auburn football program to the University along with his fast-paced offensive style that played a large part of Auburn winning the national championship in 2012. Malzahn hired most of his staff, including Rodney Garner, Ellis Johnson, Rhett Lashlee, J.B Grimes and Dameyune Craig, by January 4. Numerous coaches that Malzahn hired were recruiting coordinators at their former schools: Dameyune Craig was Florida State’s recruiting co-

ordinator, Rodney Garner was Georgia’s and Tim Horton previously recruited for Arkansas. Almost all of the on-the-field coaches are nationally celebrated recruiters which played a large part in the Tigers signing such a strong class in 2013 on a short time frame. Nation al Si g nin g D ay Wednesday, Feb. 6 saw Malzahn and his staff secure a recruiting class that was ranked 11th by some and as high as 8th by Rivals.com. The class included top defensive line prospects Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams. Jeremy Johnson, Tony Stephens and Jason Smith also added to the power of the recruiting class. It has been speculated that some of the top recruits from the class will likely see playing time for a team that desperate-

ly needs playmakers, especially on defense. Adams and Lawson will likely make a large difference on the defensive end of the football as both have the ability to rush the passer and stop the run. Spring practice began Wednesday, March 27 and was scheduled to end with the ADay game Saturday, April 20, but since Malzahn recently postponed two practices, those will be made up after the spring game. Because of this, the Tigers will be the last team in the SEC to complete their spring practices. For a team that has been learning new offensive and defensive schemes this spring, extra time between practices can certainly be positive.

RAYE MAY / PHOTO EDITOR

Malzahn exits spring practice on Friday, April 12.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quarterbacks, speed key in Malzahn’s high-tempo offense Robert Lee EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Quarterbacks - An obvious area of emphasis for coach Malzahan, look for sophomore Jonathan Wallace and junior Kiehl Frazier to battle for the starting position, while sophomores Ben Durand and Tate O’Connor continue to adjust to the pastpaced, no huddle offense. As seen during Malzahan’s tenure prior to coaching Arkansas State, the quarterbacks in his system tend to thrive. Cam Newton started one season for Auburn in Malzahan’s system, winning the national championship and the Heisman trophy along the way. Don’t expect a Cam-tacular explosion from the start this year, but do expect cohesive and consistent play from whoever starts Saturday, August 31, against Washing-

ton State. Malzahan is preaching the basics to his players this year who, at times last season, were lacking. A much more composed and prepared leader of the huddle should arise this year in Malzahn’s system. Runningbacks - Junior Tre Mason was last season’s highlight reel, and coming into a new offensive scheme where anyone has the opportunity to shine, expect Mason to continue where he left off last year. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee won’t be afraid to spread the ball around, giving Mason even more touches with catches out of the backfield and a well-rounded screen game. Junior Corey Grant, who saw limited action last season, is a formidable backup for Mason, but sophomores Andrew Williams and Chandler Shake-

speare, as well as junior Patrick Lymon and Cameron Artis-Payne could also see time, especially with the fast-paced tempo Malzahan is known for. Fullback Jay Prosch is possibly the strongest man on the team, leaving Lashlee and Malzahn with endless possibilities. Prosch should be seen as the Phillip Lutzenkirchen of 2010, catching passes from the tight end position and out of the backfield. More carried from Prosch is also likely, as his linebacker-like stature is ideal for short-yardage situations. Tight Ends - Junior Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah have starting experience from last season, although Uzomah was injured toward the end of the season. Both are experienced pass catchers as well as blockers capable of snagging passes

in the middle of the field to split the defense or in the red zone with their height advantage. Redshirt freshman Spencer Smith, Ricky Parks and Michael Clifton are excellent candidates to learn and become solid prospects for years to come, but expect Fulse and Uzomah to see most of the starting time. Wide Receivers - In a report on al.com, Lashlee said junior Jaylon Denson is someone to count on, a player most Auburn fans aren’t familiar with. Sophomore Sammie Coates should also continue his consistent performance in 2013. Sophomore Ricardo Lewis is another young receiver the coaches have been talking about during spring practice, while junior Trovon Reed and Quan Bray should still be utilized as mostly outside threats,

with Reed remaining a dangerous punt and kickoff return man as well. Offensive Lineman - The 2013 offensive line will have no seniors to lead the charge, but with the coaching of new offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, the Tigers should have a much more consistent and effective line than last season to steer Malzahan’s power-running attack. Expected starters include sophomore Greg Robinson at left tackle, Dismukes at center, junior Chad Slad at right guard and sophomore Patrick Miller at right tackle. Malzahan does have a knack for developing young talent, so don’t be surprised if younger players, such as redshirt freshman Jordan Diamond, step up throughout the season.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

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Johnson’s 4-2-5 defense gives Tigers fast, fresh look Robert Lee EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Defensive Line - Another relatively young position for Auburn, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has plenty of experience to pull from to spearhead his 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Juniors Kenneth Carter, Nosa Eguae and Dee Ford all have experience from last season and should rotate regularly to keep a fresh pass rush on the field at all times. Junior Jeffrey Whitaker and Craig Sanders also have experience in the trenches, but all of Auburn’s defensive lineman have strength on their side, as every lineman except Ford weighs more than 250 pounds. Under Johnson, the pass rush for the Tigers should find its rhythm early, providing more opportunities for a young secondary to show their speed

and ability to break on the ball. Linebacker - Possibly the weakest position on defense in 2012, former starter and junior Jake Holland should be replaced by freshman Cassanova McKinzy and redshirt freshman Kris Frost has a great opportunity to take the starting job. In Johnson’s defensive scheme, the hybrid spur position is something unknown to the Plains, but sophomore Justin Garrett seems to be picking up the position quite well with great reviews from spring practice. Look for Garrett to play all over the field and other young linebackers, such as freshman Gage Batten and JaViere Mitchell to develop as the season progresses. Defensive backs - Auburn fans know last year’s defensive backfield was likely one of

the worst overall performances on the team, partly because of T’Sharvan Bell’s injury and because of a lack of depth and experience. This season with the 4-2-5 defense, coverage is going to be better because of the extra man in coverage compared to last year’s 4-3 defense, but last year’s starters now have much more confidence to cover some of college football’s best receivers in the SEC. Look for Chris Davis and Joshua Holsey to battle for the starting corner positions and Demetruce McNeal and Jermaine Whitehead to round at the safety position. Last year’s safety struggled in coverage, but improved in tackling. This year, the defense will utilize every man available on the roster at defensive back and frustrating formations to confuse opponents offenses.

RAYE MAY / PHOTO EDITOR

Freshman cornerback Joshua Holsey lines up to defend a play at practice on Wednesday, April 17.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Get to know the 2013 Auburn Tigers Quarterbacks 17 - Ben Durand QB SO 6-3/200 10 - Kiehl Frazier QB SO 6-2/226 19 - Tate O'Connor QB RS FR 6-2/177 12 - Jonathan Wallace QB FR 6-2/197 Runningbacks 38 - Austin Autrey FB FR 5-11/207 41 - Chico Canady RB JR 5-9/196 20 - Corey Grant RB SO 5-11/200 41 - Patrick Lymon RB SO 5-10/190 21 - Tre Mason RB SO 5-10/198 8 - Anthony Morgan RB SR 5-11/197 35 - Jay Prosch FB JR 6-0/260 42 - Chandler Shakespeare RB JR 5-10/209 Wide Receiver 4 - Quan Bray WR SO 5-10/185 18 - Sammie Coates WR RS FR 6-2/200 89 - Jaylon Denson WR SO 6-3/211 38 - Billy Harris WR FR 6-0/200 6 - Ricardo Louis WR FR 6-2/210 82 - Melvin Ray WR RS FR 6-3/217 1 - Trovon Reed WR SO 6-0/190 86 - Dimitri Reese WR SO 5-11/174 39 - B.J. Trimble WR RS FR 5-10/168 83 - David West WR JR 6-0/214 49 - Taylor Williams WR SO 5-10/175 47 - Patrick Young WR RS FR 6-4/229 Tight End 83 - Michael Clifton TE FR 6-3/225 11 - Brandon Fulse TE SO 6-4/249 33 - Chris Landrum TE RS FR 6-3/240 46 - Ricky Parks TE FR 6-4/248 81 - C.J. Uzomah TE SO 6-4/250

Offensive Line 74 - Will Adams OL FR 6-7/289 79 - Eric Averett OL FR 6-3/249 48 - Blake Burgess OL JR 6-3/249 77 - Shane Callahan OL FR 6-6/280 72 - Shon Coleman OL RS FR 6-6/302 76 - Jordan Diamond OL FR 6-6/323 50 - Reese Dismukes C SO 6-3/293 65 - Tunde Fariyike OL SO 6-2/301 70 - Andre Harris OL 2V 6-3/308 64 - Forrest Hill LS SO 6-1/241 72 - Barrett Kernon OL FR 6-4/268 63 - Alex Kozan OL FR 6-4/294 70 - Robert Leff OL FR 6-6/289 59 - Jake Lembke LS JR 6-2/245 60 - Eric Mack OL SO 6-3/319 51 - Patrick Miller OL FR 6-7/298 58 - C.T. Moorman LS RS FR 6-0/225 73 - Greg Robinson OL RS FR 6-5/311 62 - Chad Slade OL SO 6-5/301 53 - Michael Sulka LS FR 6-3/253 78 - Colton Wingard OL SO 6-2/297 56 - Avery Young OL FR 6-6/295 Defensive Line 98 - Angelo Blackson DL SO 6-4/308 92 - Kenneth Carter DT JR 6-4/289 52 - Justin Delaine DE SO 6-5/253 94 - Nosa Eguae DE JR 6-3/268 95 - Dee Ford DE JR 6-2/246 45 - Keymiya Harrell DE RS FR 6-4/260 91 - Tyler Nero DL FR 6-2/277 93 - JaBrian Niles DL RS FR 6-2/297 10 - LaDarius Owens DE SO 6-2/260 42 - Gimel President DE FR 6-4/244 13 - Craig Sanders DE JR 6-4/257 96 - Devaunte Sigler DL SO 6-4/291 99 - Brian Walsh DL RS FR 6-3/303 54 - Jeffrey Whitaker DT JR 6-4/307 90 - Gabe Wright DL SO 6-3/299

Linebacker 57 - Gage Batten LB FR 6-0/233 40 - Clay Finkelstein LB RS FR 6-2/209 17 - Kris Frost LB RS FR 6-2/233 26 - Justin Garrett LB SO 6-1/215 5 - Jake Holland LB JR 6-1/241 30 - Cassanova McKinzy LB FR 6-3/243 18 - JaViere Mitchell LB FR 6-2/210 37 - Daniel Pond LB RS FR 6-1/215 29 - Mack VanGorder LB RS FR 6-1/193 49 - Jacob Westrich LB SO 6-1/230 Defensive Back 11 - Chris Davis CB JR 5-11/200 28 - T.J. Davis DB FR 6-1/184 41 - Adam Dyas S SO 5-9/192 31 - Trent Fisher DB SO 6-1/200 14 - Erique Florence DB SO 6-1/191 46 - Nosa Griggs DB 5-10/154 15 - Joshua Holsey DB FR 5-11/188 21 - Jonathan Jones DB FR 5-10/166 12 - Demetruce McNeal DB JR 6-2/187 16 - Ikeem Means DB SR 6-0/205 6 - Jonathon Mincy DB SO 5-10/190 32 - Blake Poole DB JR 5-11/199 24 - Ryan Smith DB JR 6-2/204 46 - Jordan Spriggs DB SO 5-9/189 44 - Anthony Swain DB RS FR 6-2/235 27 - Robenson Therezie DB SO 5-9/205 19 - Ryan White DB JR 5-11/198 9 - Jermaine Whitehead DB SO 5-11/202 Kickers 56 - Will Campbell P FR 6-1/235 30 - Steven Clark P JR 6-5/232 39 - Alex Kviklys K FR 6-2/180 36 - Cody Parkey K JR 6-0/194 39 - Ellis Smith P FR 6-2/204 37 - J.D. Strawbridge P FR 6-0/171

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

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What you won’t see: freshmen and their immediate impact Ethan Brady SPORTS WRITER

A-Day is sure to feature excitement and competition under head coach Gus Malzahn and his newly hired staff. The game will be the first time the public will see Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s fast-paced no-huddle offense and the tricky 4-2-5 defense of Ellis Johnson. What the public won’t see is the highly talented 2013 recruiting class that is sure to feature some impact players next season after they arrive on campus in early June. Committed to Auburn since February 2012, ESPN’s No. 2 overall high school recruit Carl Lawson thrilled the Plains when he committed to the Tigers on National Signing Day. The 6-foot-3 defensive end was the top player at his position this year and told Auburn Sport’s Justin Hokanson he wants to start this season. “I want to be able to compete and start — break a freshman sack record, I want to do all those things, but I have to work for it,” Lawson said. “I want to probably break the freshman sack record for the SEC or be able to start, but those things aren't guaranteed that

I'm working for.” The Alpharetta, Ga. native has the skill set to be able to start immediately this season. With junior Corey Lemonier departing early for the NFL draft a position in the defensive end rotation is open for Lawson’s taking. His pass rushing off the edge is one of the fastest to come out of high school in recent years and with time and coaching, Lawson will only get better. The Tigers second top-10 prospect in the 2013 recruiting class is Montravius Adams, a defensive tackle that is sure to make an impact in the fall and for years to come at Auburn. He’s 6-foot-3 and 281 pounds from Dooly County High School in Vienna, Ga. Malzahn said, “I’ve never seen a bigger, more athletic guy than him,” Gene Chizik said he has “Nick Fairley potential.” With compliments like that, Adams should find himself being the anchor of Auburn’s defense line in coming years. Adams was the No.1 defensive tackle in Georgia and will join senior Jeffrey Whitaker and junior Gabe Wright at the position. If he has a good camp in the fall, Adams could find himself in the starting rotation for the Tigers come the

first game of the season against Washington State Saturday, Aug. 31. While he isn’t expected to make a huge impact this season, Jeremy Johnson, the winner of the 2013 Mr. Football award in Alabama is the future of Auburn football. The Carver-Montgomery quarterback led his Wolverines to the Class 6A state semifinals this season and won the state championship in 2012. Johnson threw for 3,193 yards and 31 touchdowns in his senior season and also rushed for 705 yards and seven scores. With Malzahn and Lashlee’s spread offense, Johnson should thrive in the passing game. The 6-foot-6 quarterback is an extremely gifted athlete who was also considered a strong candidate for the 2013 Mr. Basketball award this year. His size and athleticism will give him a strong chance of playing in specific situations this season, but his youth and Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace’s experience will stop him from starting. The 2013 recruiting class features a few players who could ultimately make an impact this upcoming season. While the commits continue to grow and learn under Malzahn and his staff, they are certainly the future of Auburn football and look to improve everyday.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

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ThePlainsman.com

9

EMILY BRETT / FREELANCE GRAPHIC ARTIST

John Burns SPORTS EDITOR

They never achieved any feats on the football field to compare with the likes of Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton, and they never led groups of young men to victory as Ralph “Shug” Jordan and Pat Dye did, yet they are as much a part of Auburn football history as any of them. For some 25 years the Auburn faithful have rolled the two oaks on Toomer’s Corner after the football team achieved victory on the gridiron, but that valued tradition will come to an end after the A-Day game this Saturday, April 20. The final rolling of the trees will take place after the spring showcase of the football team, and along with the general chaos that is hundreds of people throwing toilet paper at the trees, there will be a 20-minute ceremony for them at 5 p.m. In order to understand the importance of the oaks their history must be examined. The trees were planted in 1880. No one knows exactly who planted the famed oaks, but it has been speculated that Judge John Harper, founder of the city of Auburn put the acorns in the ground. Regardless of who planted them, the oaks’ age is approximately 133-years-old, and they will not see another year. Students began to congregate at what is now known as Toomer’s Corner in 1892 for the purpose of celebrating football victories.

Not long after, the employees at Toomer’s Drugstore threw ticker tape from their telegraph machine on nearby power lines to signal an Auburn football away victory. The tradition of flinging ticker tape onto power lines to signal victory morphed into toilet paper in 1962. By this time it was fans celebrating the Tiger victories, not employees spreading the good news. It should be noted that for 27 years none thought to throw toilet paper on the giant oak trees next to the power lines; that is, until 1989. On December 2, 1989 the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide was undefeated before they entered Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time. They left with a mark in the loss column for the season to the delight of the sellout crowd after falling to the Tigers 30–20. Pandemonium ensued and the celebration was taken to Toomer’s Corner. It seems fitting that the first time Alabama lost at Auburn was also the first time the Toomer’s oaks were caked with a thick coat of toilet paper. Since 1989 the tradition has rolled strong. The most famous moment in the oaks’ history occurred the night of January 10, 2011 when hundreds came to Toomer’s Corner to unleash pound after pound of toilet paper on the trees in celebration of the Tigers’ first national championship in football since 1957. That was the last time the oaks would be seemingly healthy for a football celebration. On January 27, 2011, barely two weeks after the na-

tional championship, a man by the name of “Al from Dadeville” called the Paul Finebaum Radio Network and said, “The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn because I lived 30 miles away, and I poisoned the two Toomer’s trees. I put Spike 80DF in them.” Finebaum then asked if they were dead, and the caller responded by saying, “They’re not dead yet, but they definitely will die.” On February 16, 2011 it was made official that the oaks were contaminated with 65 times the lethal amount of Spike 80DF needed to kill the trees. It was later found out that the caller was actually Harvey Updyke, not an Alabama alumnus, but a hardcore fan who went as far as committing a criminal act against Auburn. Updyke was recently sentenced to six months in jail and five years of supervised probation for killing the oaks. After the final rolling of the trees Saturday, April 20, they will be cut down. Tuesday, April 23 is the scheduled day for the oaks to be felled. Once the oaks are gone, the leftover wood will be crafted into commemorative items that anyone can buy, and proceeds will go toward scholarships. During the ceremony at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20 the University will unveil its plans for a replacement structure or trees on the corner, though a replacement for 133-year-old trees will certainly take some time to get used to.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Family Tree: TWER reflects on Toomer’s rolling of ‘89 Jeremy Henderson JEREMY@ THEWAREAGLEREADER. COM

There was a book that came out a little while after it happened that said kids at Toomer’s Corner that day would remember being at Toomer’s Corner that day. I was one of those kids. I watched the game at Grandmama’s house. I’d been to ’87. It was my first. Dad and I started the “Hey, Hey, Hey Goodbye” chant you heard on TV. I swear we did. In ’88, Mom got some tickets from one of her friends, a bigwig at CBS. Someone offered her $300 for them. $300 a piece in 1988. She probably would have sold them had they called back. They didn’t. So I was at

’88, too. But there was no way a 5th grader was going to ’89. It was Bama’s first time in Auburn. I was 10; I wasn’t an idiot. I knew the significance: Welcome to hell. Dad and I drove down from Birmingham the night before. I wrote about it in my journal that day in school. (A few weeks later, I used it as the backdrop for a story that ended with me having powers like Jeff Bridges’ character in “Star Man,” if that tells you anything.) We came 65 / 85, and we rolled into downtown around 7 p.m. It was bangin’. The clock tower glow, the huge beautiful hair, those shiny blue Auburn Dad jackets you try to find on eBay. I sat outside on the rolled down window of the Lincoln Town Car. It was a different time. The law was irrelevant.

The law was in a shiny blue Auburn Dad jacket. Dad was letting me blare The New Kids on the Block’s "Hangin' Tough." We ain’t gonna give anybody any SLACK!—SLACK—“Like Reggie Slack, Dad”—our quarterback! God, it was awesome. Dad and Russ, my uncle, got my grandfather’s tickets. There is a picture of us all right before they left for the game: Russ, Josh and Jenny (cousins), Dad and me. And I’m decked out in face paint, Braveheart-style, wearing one of the two Auburn hats that I slept in and occasionally showered in that year and my Auburn boxer shorts outside of my sweatpants, holding a paper shaker in one hand and making a No. 1 sign with the other. And we’ve got some sort of giant “Beat Bama” sign on a freaking picket. We were

holding up signs while watching the game on TV in the living room. The way Dad looks in that picture is the way he still looks to me, the way he will always look to me. Dad and Russ take off. Hours go by. We were down at the half. Josh and I went outside with the football. I was gagging, gasping, trying to bend spoons with my mind, throwing perfect spirals up to heaven. It was like my body itself was praying. I closed my eyes and believed. And heard the New Kids. “… and if you try to keep us down we’re gonna come right BACK.” We come back. Of course we come back. We hold on. Of course we hold on. Reggie Slack, Stacy Danley, James Joseph, Shane Wasden, Alexander Wright, Quentin Riggins,

Craig Ogletree, all of them. There’s something like a minute left. We’re going to win. Granddaddy gets up from the recliner. I remember watching him walk down the hall. He comes back with an arm full of toilet paper and a smile on his face, like he’s watching us at Christmas. “Let’s go.” Toomer’s is a ball pit. It’s knee deep. It’s Disney World. Emotional apocalypse. Where are Dad and Russ? War Eagle! We’ve got to find them! War Eagle! Haaaa!! Oh God… War Eagle! None of them remember this, but I swear it happened. I heard, “War Eagle! Hey, War Eagle!’ and there they are up on a light pole, on Magnolia, right at the corner. God cares about football. See you at Toomer’s.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

What the Selena Roberts story means for team’s progress Andrew Yawn SPORTS@ THEPLAINSMAN.COM

In the wake of Auburn’s latest scandal, kindly introduced by The Plainsman’s own former sports editor Selena Roberts, fans hoping for a bounce back season on the Plains seemed concerned at how the latest allegations would affect the team. In short, not very much. While it must be somewhat demoralizing that Auburn can only find the spotlight by falling on its face as of late, the allegations in Roberts’ story have as much a chance of affecting the Tigers’ performance as Roopstigo.com has of challenging legitimate news sources for views. This team’s only relation to

the “testimony” provided in the article is that Mike McNeil and the former Auburn players who were misquoted—I mean interviewed—are exactly that: former Auburn players. This team has enough to worry about (the current players’ futures, for instance) without getting caught up in a long-winded, “he said, she said” debate. If there are violations, there are people paid to find them. It’s not just a new team of players. Auburn has an almost entirely new coaching staff running the program with militarylike efficiency, according to the players. When the NCAA investigated Auburn in 2010, that scandal didn’t stop Cam Newton (the catalyst for the investigation) from leading the team to the championship. Why should Roberts’ piece have any effect

if an investigation into players and coaches still with the team couldn’t derail the Tigers in 2010? At the end of 2013, it’s perfectly plausible that Auburn may still be a lackluster football team, but Roberts can’t take the credit for that. After going winless in an eight-game SEC schedule for the first time in history last season, would anybody be surprised if the team was just mediocre this season? I’m not making a prediction for the 2013 Tigers. It’s too early for that. However, the idea that Roberts’ controversial article will loom over Auburn this season is absurd. Most of the country has already forgotten how to spell “Roopstigo” by now, and Auburn is the only place still perpetuating the fact that her piece exists.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

The dos and don’ts of A-Day: Toomer’s versus expectations Will Gaines SPORTS@ THEPLAINSMAN.COM

With the final rolling of the Toomer’s oaks and the first look at head coach Gus Malzahn in action, many fans will be going to their first A-Day game on Saturday, April 20. If this is your first time to attend, then here are a few dos and don’ts for the day. Lets start with the don’ts first and get them out of the way. Don’t expect an exciting game that will give you tons of insight into next season’s football team. I am sure the coaches would love to be able to show fans some of the cool new things they will be doing next year, but unfortunately other

coaches in our conference will also be watching the game so they do not want to give away any secrets and let opponents have an entire summer to prepare for them. Don’t expect any starting jobs to be won. Many will show up to the game expecting to see one of the two quarterbacks emerge as the starter. Unfortunately, this will not happen. Again, the coaches will keep the play calling fairly basic so it will not give Jonathan Wallace or Kiehl Frazier an opportunity to emerge as a starter. It will, however, be a great opportunity for both to get comfortable playing in front of a crowd, and that could give coaches a good insight into who will step up to assume a leadership role. Don’t read too much into players not seeing much playing time, especially some of the

RAYE MAY / PHOTO EDITOR

Starters don’t usually play much at A-Day, so expect to see more playing time from players like Ben Durand.

better players. It will be pretty much a guarantee you will not see much from guys like running back Tre Mason and defensive end Dee Ford. Those two have proven they produce

on Saturdays in the fall and coaches will not risk injury for these two, and there will be others who will be in the same situation. Don’t forget to check the weather before you leave for the game. This time of year the weather can change quickly, so don’t forget your suncreen or rain jacket. Now that the don’ts are out of the way, let’s talk about something more positive. You will enjoy a game day atmosphere without the worry of the game putting you in a bad mood for the rest of the week. Take an opportunity to do things you would not normally do on a regular season Saturday. Take part in some of the behind the scenes activities the athletic department is offering like a tour of the locker rooms

at Jordan Hare Stadium on Friday April 19 from 4–6 p.m. On A-Day, you can take part in a fan festival on campus, and an autograph session with the players on the field 45 minutes after the game ends. While you are taking part in these festivities, you can go downtown and have a drink, then walk around while you enjoy it. Finally, the reason the majority of fans are coming to A-day will be the biggest “do” of the entire day, and that is to witness the final rolling of the famous Toomer’s oak trees. While you take part and watch this historical Auburn moment, take plenty mental images so you can tell your grandkids how you were a part of the last students at Auburn to enjoy this tradition that makes this University as great as it is.

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