We’re 11 days from Christmas (hope you got your shopping done already, if not, there are some good shops in downtown Auburn that you should frequent), and we’re 18 days away from the Peach Bowl against UCF in Atlanta.
Auburn and the (Golden) Knights kick off at 11:30 am CST from Mercedes-Benz Stadium on New Year’s Day. It’ll be the second straight New Year’s Six bowl game for the Tigers, and now with a little experience in this situation, we hope that things will be better than they were last year against Oklahoma.
Up first is the effort to duplicate the game week like you were playing any old Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“Our idea when we go into a bowl week is basically recreate our complex wherever we are.”— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) December 12, 2017
Inside what goes into planning Auburn’s trip to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl: https://t.co/EYib9ASEF1 pic.twitter.com/iqUtSgcH0K
For the Tigers, recreating the similar effort starts with the guys on the team and the coaching staff, it seems as if most of the staff (if not all of it) is staying intact from 2017 to 2018.
Malzahn says OL coach Herb Hand will be back in 2018. "Herb’s one of the best offensive line coaches in college football."— Greg Ostendorf (@greg_ostendorf) December 13, 2017
At least one thing that will be the same (sadly) is the absence of running back Kam Pettway, who’s still going to be out for the Peach Bowl with that shoulder injury he sustained against Arkansas.
Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway will not return for Peach Bowl https://t.co/Hcmdb3QB2k— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) December 13, 2017
However, we should have Kerryon Johnson at full strength for the game against UCF. After finishing 9th in the Heisman voting and winning SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Kerryon has joined the upper echelon of Tiger tailbacks and continues that solid tradition that’s endured over the years.
"To have that tutelage and that history at RB, it means a lot to be able to represent what came before and what’s come after us."— Greg Ostendorf (@greg_ostendorf) December 13, 2017
» @ronnie23brown https://t.co/fafFiTR3Ow
And the honors keep rolling in after a good season for Auburn. Gus Malzahn has been named one of the finalists for the Paul Bryant Coach of the Year Award.
.@CoachGusMalzahn named a finalist for the 2017 Paul Bryant Coach of the Year award.— Auburn Football (@AuburnFootball) December 13, 2017
» https://t.co/woB0TKUD44#WarEagle pic.twitter.com/XSeTOrYqJo
Meanwhile, our guys keep getting All-American honors — Daniel Carlson and Braden Smith in particular.
For those counting at home, that's five All-America honors for @DanielCarlson38 and Braden Smith (AFCA, AP, FWAA, Sporting News and Walter Camp). https://t.co/Tky3mI89bW— Greg Ostendorf (@greg_ostendorf) December 13, 2017
"It's awesome getting awards for playing football, but changing others' lives and doing what you can to give back is so much bigger."— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 13, 2017
- @AuburnFootball's @DanielCarlson38 https://t.co/gQfq45DkGk
In the professional ranks, every year around this time we see the Chosen One conduct charitable activities with his Thanksgiving efforts, but now Cam Newton’s got a new endeavor that he’s trying to grow.
Auburn prof and @KennyChesney sparked Cam Newton’s new diversity intiative in Charlotte, @josephperson writes. Cool program from his foundation. https://t.co/cp7GeGGxBV— Mike Persinger (@mikepersinger) December 13, 2017
And as Auburn gets set for a huge non-conference game against a really tough Middle Tennessee team this Saturday, the Tigers hope to be back at nearly full strength (Purifoy/Wiley notwithstanding) as Mustapha Heron has returned to practice.
Auburn guard Mustapha Heron (back spasms) is slated to return to practice Thursday in advance of Saturday's game against Middle Tennessee State in Birmingham https://t.co/Uqk1vp975j— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) December 14, 2017
Auburn and the Blue Raiders play in Birmingham at 5 pm CST this Saturday evening. More to come... War Eagle!