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GAME DAY published by The

Auburn Plainsman

Sept. 2 vs. Georgia Southern 6:30 p.m. CST SEC Network

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The Auburn Plainsman: Game Day vs. Georgia Southern

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017


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Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017

The Auburn Plainsman: Game Day vs. Georgia Southern



HYOSUB SHIN/ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/MCT Former Georgia Southern Eagles wide receiver BJ Johnson (12) celebrates after he scored a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sept. 13, 2014, in Atlanta.

Tigers face offseason hype, tricky offense in opener Savannah Vickery SPORTS WRITER


In Saturday’s home opener against Georgia Southern, the No. 12 Auburn Tigers will be presented with a challenge by a formidable Eagles offense. GSU plans to reinstall and run its shotgun-based, triple-option attack on Saturday under former Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Cook. The triple option is one of the hardest offenses to prepare for in college football and Auburn opens the season against a well-versed opponent in Georgia Southern. The triple option is an unorthodox type of offense. Very few schools run this type of offense, but the service academies like Navy, Army and Air Force run it, along with Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern. Triple option teams rely on running the football. The defense has to worry about several different running choices on each play. There are three players who could run the ball in this offense. The quarterback takes the snap under center and usually has a fullback and two running backs behind him in the formation. The decision of who runs the ball is made by the quarterback during the play. Based off the quarterback’s read of the defense, his first option is to hand the ball off to the fullback for the dive. If he does not do this, the quarterback runs to the outside and has the option to pitch

the ball during the play to the running back. In the final preseason press conference, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn made several comments regarding the unique Georgia Southern offense. “They present challenges with that triple option, there’s no question about it. Three years ago, they beat Florida, they took Georgia to overtime. They played a lot of good teams well,” Malzahn said. Willie Fritz installed the option at Georgia Southern during 2014-2015. He left for Tulane after 2015, and GSU hired Tyson Summers. Summers went away from the option that had been so successful under Fritz. Coming into his second season however, Southern is back running the option attack. Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has plenty of experience dealing with this kind of offense. Steele was the defensive coordinator at Clemson from 2009-2011, when the Tigers faced off with Georgia Tech annually. As for Auburn, no player currently on the roster has ever played against the triple option in college. “Any time you’re facing a triple option team, especially that’s good at it and well coached, you’ve got to start working on (it) earlier,” Malzahn said. “Kevin has got a good plan. He has been in the ACC with Georgia Tech before so he’s somewhat familiar with that.” Steele and Clemson went 1-3 against the option during that three-year span. Clemson and Georgia Tech played in the 2009 ACC Cham-

pionship game, but Tech’s victory was later stripped due to NCAA violations. While many eyes are on Auburn’s new starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the Tiger defensive line will hold the most responsibility for Georgia Southern and its unique triple-option attack. As for the Eagles, redshirt freshman Shai Werts will get the start at quarterback on Saturday. The Clinton, South Carolina, native will be making his collegiate debut against the Tigers, so Auburn’s coaching staff is limited on ways to prepare for Werts. “To get a true picture of them cutting it like they cut in the offensive line, we’re not going to be able to simulate that,” Steele said. “It’s a challenge, there’s no doubt it’s a challenge. But it is what it is, and we’ve got to get it done.” Although the circumstances of Saturday’s game are somewhat unusual with GSU’s offensive playbook, Auburn is projected to take the game by five touchdowns. “I think any time you experience things it does nothing but help you, the fact that they have such a unique offense,” Malzahn said. “We had a long period to prepare. Some teams only have a week to prepare. Kevin [Steele] has a good understanding of the triple option and has defended it before. Now, does that mean they’re easy to stop? No, they’re good at what they do.” Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CST in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. The game will be televised on SEC Network.


The Auburn Plainsman: Game Day vs. Georgia Southern







Letter from The George-Anne Thomas Jilk SPORTS EDITOR - THE GEORGE-ANNE

Jacqueline Keck SGA President

Will Sahlie Sports Editor

Nathan King Ast. Sports Editor

Tyler Roush Sports Reporter

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017

In a down year in 2016, Georgia Southern was able to hang with Ole Miss for most of the first half and ultimately limit the defeat to 10 points, 37-27. Now, head coach Tyson Summers returns for his second season with a new offensive coordinator and a team hungry to run the football. The Eagles will play to win this Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. “It doesn’t matter if I’m brushing my teeth or playing cards or coaching a football game, I’m going to be as competitive as I can possibly be,” Summers said. “Our football team takes the same mindset. We’re not going into this game to do anything but to win.” The other new QB Redshirt freshman Shai Werts has the daunting task of playing his first college game as the newly minted starting quarterback against a talented and deep Auburn defense. But the dual-threat Werts didn’t seem fazed in a press conference on Monday. “People want to build the SEC up so much. That’s not what we’re going to do. They put their pants on just how we put our pants on,” Werts said. Werts has the support of a veteran offensive line, bolstered by the return of left tackle Tommy Boynton, who missed all of last season after suffering two concussions in spring practice. “That’s one of the groups and positions that has had the most drastic improvement,” Summers said of the offensive line. Keeping it on the ground Most fans of Georgia Southern football expect a return to a run-dominated offense akin to the option that has featured Eagle greats such as Jayson Foster, Adrian Peterson, and Jerick McKinnon in the past.

Last season’s 5-7 record is being blamed partially on the retreat from the classic option offense that has become famous in Statesboro. New offensive coordinator Bryan Cook was previously the quarterbacks coach at Georgia Tech, which is also known for an option running attack. Look for junior back Wesley Fields to see a bulk of the action, as well as senior L.A. Ramsby. Fields acknowledged the task at hand, but was confident in his offensive line. “SEC defenses are physical, big, and kind of shifty,” Fields said. “We just have to come hit ‘em in the mouth.” Young but capable After losing seniors Ironhead Gallon and Ukeme Eligwe to the NFL, the Eagles will reload their defense around junior safety Josh Moon, who was third on the team in tackles last season. Moon gave his insight on the best way to try to slow down the fastpaced Auburn offense. “We’ve got to hit them hard early, get them off the field so they don’t have the opportunity to tire us out,” Moon said. Highly-touted junior college transfer linebacker Tomarcio Reese will start in his first game as an Eagle, and junior defensive tackle Logan Hunt will try to clog the middle and minimize running lanes for Kamryn Pettway and company.


Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017

The Auburn Plainsman: Game Day vs. Georgia Southern


Dean primed for breakout season Sumner Martin SPORTS WRITER

Jamel Dean is entering his third season as a college athlete, but has yet to play a snap. It has been a long road, to say the least, for the former all-state cornerback from Florida. Dean was a two-position standout at Cocoa High in Central Florida earning all-state honors twice as a receiver and as a defensive back. Coming out of high school, he was one of the top cornerback prospects in the nation ranked No. 32 by 247Sports and No. 37 by Rivals. He committed to play for Ohio State in 2015. After redshirting for a semester and being declared medically ineligible, Dean decided to transfer to Auburn for the 2016 season. He looked poised for a breakout season and was projected to start for the Tigers before suffering a season-ending knee injury during fall camp, the same injury that gave him problems throughout his high school career. Now Dean said he is back fullspeed and better than ever. “It was a difficult time for me having to suffer through that injury again, but I just put that behind me now,” Dean said. “I’m just continuing where I left off at from last year.” With game number one right around the corner, saying Dean is eager to get on the field for the first time since high school would be an understatement.

“It was really exciting for me,” Dean said about getting on the practice field this fall. “Especially the first day of fall camp, that was probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time … (Starting) would mean a lot to me, but I just want to play. That’s all. “I just want to play my first college game. I’ve missed two years of it.” Dean finds himself in a similar situation this year, making his presence felt. He is once again expected to start the season at corner for the Tigers, due in large part to his freakish combination of size and athleticism. At 6-foot-2-inches and 215 pounds, Dean has a frame that rivals some linebackers in college football. Couple that with a 4.28-second, 40-yard dash, and you would be hard pressed to find a better option at corner in the SEC. “He has certainly been blessed with size, very good top-end speed,” defensive backs coach Greg Brown said. “He puts in the time. He works it, and he understands what the scheme is asking him both schematically and technique-wise, what is required to play corner at a top level.” Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele expects Dean to “be a dominant player and do his job” and sees what an asset he could prove to be for this secondary. “Playing corner is a hard job. It’s a hard job in this league, and it’s a hard job at the next league up,”

Steele said. “He’s long, he’s physical. If he gets in front of you and gets his hands on you, he can make that clock that the quarterback has been affected by, how the guy released off him and messed up the timing of the route combinations. He’s really, really good at that because he is so long and strong, and he’s really, really smart. That’s there, and then he has the physical ability to do it.” In 2016, Auburn’s secondary gave up, on average, just over 229 passing yards per game, which was ranked 67th in the country. Dean believes that he can be the impact player that can improve this defensive unit moving forward. “It’s a real advantage for me because receivers don’t really go against corners my size,” Dean said. “Going against me makes things much harder because you have to change the way you release … It’s going to throw off the timing of the offense so hopefully that will give our defensive lineman enough time to put pressure on them.” Dean described himself as an “aggressive” corner and has already impressed teammates and coaches alike with his play during fall practice. In Auburn’s first scrimmage of fall camp, he had an interception return for a touchdown and numerous wide-outs have pinned him as one of the toughest match-ups to lineup against. The entire Auburn team is just as excited as Dean is to final-

» See DEAN, 7



The Auburn Plainsman: Game Day vs. Georgia Southern

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017

AUBURN DEPTH CHART Quarterback: Jarrett Stidham - 8 Sean White - 13

Left Tackle: Prince T. Wanogho - 76 Bailey Sharp - 66

Running Back: Kamryn Pettway - 36 OR Kerryon Johnson 21

Left Guard: Mike Horton - 66 Marquel Harrell - 77

H-Back: Chandler Cox - 27

Center: Austin Golson - 73 Casey Dunn - 50

Tight End: Jalen Harris - 85 Tucker Brown - 86

Right Guard: Braden Smith - 71 Wilson Bell - 74

Wide Receiver: Darius Slayton - 81 Kyle Davis - 11 Nate Craig-Myers - 3 Ryan Davis - 23 Will Hastings - 33 Eli Stove - 12 Noah Igbinoghene - 19

Right Tackle: Darius James - 78 Calvin Ashley - 70

Defensive End: Marlon Davidson - 3 Nick Coe - 91 OR Big Kat Bryant - 1 Defensive Tackle: Dontavius Russell - 95 Byron Cowart - 9 OR Tyrone Truesdell - 94 Defensive Tackle: Derrick Brown - 5 Andrew Williams - 79

Will Linebacker: Tre’ Williams - 30 Montavious Atkinson - 48 Sam Linebacker: Darrell Williams - 49 Richard McBryde - 51 Field Corner Jamel Dean - 12 OR Javaris Davis - 31 Field Safety: Stephen Roberts - 14 Daniel Thomas - 24

Buck: Jeff Holland - 4 Paul James III - 10 OR T.D. Moultry - 55

Boundary Safety: Tray Matthews - 28 Nick Ruffin - 19 OR Jeremiah Dinson - 20

Middle Linebacker: Deshaun Davis - 57 K.J. Britt - 33 OR Chandler Wooten - 17

Boundary Corner: Carlton Davis - 6 Traivon Leonard - 21 Nickel: Daniel Thomas - 24 OR Jeremiah Dinson - 20

Kicker: Daniel Carlson - 38 Anders Carlson - 26 OR Sage Ledbetter - 31 Punter: Ian Shannon - 43 Aidan Marshall - 41 Long Snapper: Ike Powell - 69 Bill Taylor - 60 Holder: Tyler Stovall - 29 Punt Returner: Ryan Davis - 23 Stephen Roberts - 14 Kick Returner: Javaris Davis - 31 Kerryon Johnson - 21 Devan Barrett - 6 Noah Igbinoghene - 19

GEORGIA SOUTHERN DEPTH CHART Quarterback: Shai Werts Kado Brown

Left Tackle: Tommy Boynton Parker Williams

Running Back: Wesley Fields Monteo Garrett L.A. Ramsey Tight End: Ellis Richardson Ross Alexander Wide Receiver: Malik Henry Obe Fortune Wide Receiver: Myles Campbell Wesley Kennedy Darion Anderson Mark Michaud

Defensive End: Deshon Cooper Raymond Johnson

Sam Linebacker: Tomarcio Reese Lane Ecton

Left Guard: Ryan Northrup Lawrence Edwards

Defensive Tackle: Ty Phillips Ian Bush

Cornerback: Kindle Vildor Monquavion Brinson

Center: Curtis Rainey Caleb Kelly

Defensive Tackle: Logan Hunt Melton Brown Jr.

Right Guard: Jeremiah Culbreth Jake Edwards

Defensive End: Traver Vliem Randy Wade Jr.

Right Tackle: Drew Wilson Jakob Cooper

Will Linebacker: Chris DeLaRosa Rashad Byrd Middle Linebacker: Todd Bradley Chris Harris Jr.

Strong Safety: RJ Murray Sean Freeman Free Safety: Joshua Moon Jay Bowdry Cornerback: Darrell Baker Jr. Jessie Liptrot

Kicker: Tyler Bass Punter: Matt Flynn Long Snapper: Ryan Langan Colton Platt Holder: Matt Flynn Punt Returner: Myles Campbell Wesley Kennedy Kick Returner: Myles Campbell L.A. Ramsey Malik Henry Monteo Garrett

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017

The Auburn Plainsman: Game Day vs. Georgia Southern


From 1991: Auburn vs. Georgia Southern



-ly see him play his first college football game. “We all agree that we want him to play,” Auburn receiver Darius Slayton said. “We all know he’s a really good player. No one else has gotten a chance to see him play because he came in and had to sit out a year, and then he got injured.” Dean’s journey has had its up and downs, but today he finds himself less than a week away from running out of the tunnel in Jordan-Hare, and if all goes as planned, starting his first football game in two years. “I’m ready for him to play probably more than he is,” said Javaris Davis, Dean’s teammate in the secondary. “I’ve been ready to see him play too because he’s a great player.”


The Auburn Tigers started the 1990 season ranked No. 3 in the nation and had many believing in a national championship-caliber team. With a season that culminated in constant comeback efforts and disappointment, Auburn, a team that was meant to contend for a title, finished the season unranked. Playing Division I-AA Georgia Southern to start the 1991 season meant Auburn could create some breathing room for success. After all, the 1990 team had to rely on Larry Blakeney and Pat Sullivan sharing the offensive coordinator position. Now they had Tommy Bowden, son of Florida State’s Bobby Bowden. Georgia Southern began the season as back-toback Division I-AA national champions. Head coach Tim Stowers took over for Erk Russell in 1990, and he was looking to win a third-straight title. The first half was a blur to the crowd of 79,120. With Auburn trailing 17-0, a Georgia Southern defensive back dropped what would have been a pick-six thrown by sophomore quarterback Stan White. The

Tigers would later score a field goal to deny the Eagles of a first-half shutdown. Auburn’s first possession of the second half showed flashes of the 1990 team, the one that was meant to win the title. White threw a 23-yard pass down the middle of the field to Herbert Casey to capitalize on six-play, 88-yard drive to make the score 17-10. Size, speed and strength began to slow down Georgia Southern’s efforts on offense. On Auburn’s next possession, redshirt freshman Joe Frazier shook through the middle of the Eagles’ defense for a twoyard touchdown. Jim Von Wyl missed the extra point, and Auburn would have to rely on more scoring in the fourth. With twelve and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, any hope of a Georgia Southern upset had escaped the soul of Jordan-Hare. White scrambled and danced prior to tossing a 10-yard pass to Fred Baxter, and later completed a two-point conversion to make it 24-17. As many fans rinsed out onto campus, Reid McMillon scampered for a 32-yard touchdown to seal a 32-17 win after another two-point conversion. White

completed 14-of-27 for 236 yards in the victory. Auburn finished the 1991 season with a 5-6 record (2-5 SEC) for head coach Pat Dye’s first losing season on The Plains since his inaugural 1981 season. Following a 5-5-1 (2-5-1 SEC) 1992 season, Pat Dye was removed from his coaching position in favor of Terry Bowden, brother of Tommy. In 1993, Auburn finished the season undefeated and is recognized by the National Championship Foundation as that season’s national champion. Stan White finished his Auburn career as its all-time leading passer with 8,016 total yards over four seasons. Georgia Southern didn’t win their third-straight title in 1991, but they wouldn’t have to wait long before going back-to-back again in 1999-2000. It took the Eagles 21 tries before defeating its first Division I team, the Florida Gators, in 2013. The Eagles started their first season in Division I play in 2014, finishing the season 9-3 while undefeated in the Sun Belt Conference. Again utilizing a triple-option offense, Georgia Southern will look to dig the Tigers a similar hole crafted in the first half by its 1991 counterpart.

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8.31.2017 Georgia Southern Special Edition  

8.31.2017 Georgia Southern Special Edition

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