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Monday Mailbag

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SEC Championship - Auburn v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What does Driscoll’s arrival mean for the position battle at center? Is it more likely now that someone like Horton moves over or should we expect Driscoll just to slot in at tackle and either Kim or Brahms still gets the nod at center? - Kotov Syndrome

This is a great question, but I honestly think we won’t know how this shakes out until fall camp. As AUNerd mentioned in the commitment article, Driscoll started 8 games at guard his redshirt freshman year and all 12 games at right tackle his redshirt sophomore season. That being said, I see him being used similarly to Casey Dunn last year, except at right tackle. If Calvin Ashley or Austin Troxell come out and light the world on fire in fall camp, I would expect one of them to take the RT spot, and Driscoll to slide back into guard. If the staff is still concerned there, I think Driscoll takes the RT job. I don’t think Driscoll would be in line for time at center, however, as I believe the staff would slide either Horton or Harrell inside to center.

Long story short, his addition gives us a lot more flexibility in giving starting jobs to the 5 guys that are ready. I think we can be pretty sure Tega, Horton, Harrell, and Driscoll will be four of our five starters, and whoever is the most ready out of Kim/Brahms/Troxell/Ashley will start at their respective position. - Ryan Sterritt


I was very excited by the decision of 4 star WR Kobe Hudson to become an Auburn Tiger. What is your honest prediction for his Auburn career (How will he do, when will he start, etc.)? - TitansPacersAU

Hudson is a big time football player so that excitement is not only understandable but warranted. I would not at all be surprised if he were to eventually land a 5th star but he should no doubt be a top 100 ranked player in next year’s class. He’s also going to be one of Auburn’s top recruits turned recruiters in the 2020 class. As for his impact once he arrives at Auburn, I think he’s got a great shot of seeing the field early. It’s hard to speculate whether that’s as a true freshman starter or just rotating in but I fully expect him to at least be apart of the rotation as a true freshman. The one aspect of his game I would really like to see him improve over the next two years is as a route runner. He’s got incredible athleticism which at times allows him to just blow by guys or jump over them to make a play. If he continues to improve from a technical aspect as a wideout, he’s got a great chance to be a 3 year starter for the Tigers. Auburn could soon have three top 100 prospects lining up at wide receiver (Matthew Hill, George Pickens & Kobe Hudson). - AUNerd


Note: This is a summary of a larger discussion in the Mailbag thread.

Why haven’t there been high round draft picks coming from Auburn the last few years? With the great recruiting work Gus has done, one would think there would be some higher draft picks. - Desert Weagle

Since Auburn has been in the 247 Top 10 of team recruiting rankings every season except this past recruiting class, you know that Auburn’s just about as talented as anyone else in the country (the crimson monster across the state notwithstanding). There certainly is a disconnect in the lack of high draft picks, and that can probably be chalked up to a couple of different things.

The obvious one is that the professional development isn’t there. We get four and five star kids just like the rest of the big boys, but for whatever reason they’re not being turned into true pro prospects. Is it a physicality thing? Is it the scheme? Is it a lack of fundamentals? There’s definitely a thought that Gus Malzahn’s offense doesn’t lend itself to the NFL translation. Pro scouts are looking for a quarterback, receiver, etc. that have run a pro offense. The vast majority of NFL offenses don’t look anything like what we see on Saturdays. We’ve also had some kids deal with lingering injury issues that probably cause a team to think twice rather than spending tens of millions of dollars.

Now, it’s not Gus’ job to get kids drafted, it’s his job to win football games, and he’s done that at a pretty high clip at Auburn. However, it helps him to win football games by preparing these kids to get drafted as highly as they can so that the program’s appeal is better.

Look at the NFL Draft over the past five years when compared with the final AP Top Ten from that previous college football season. Below are the total number of first round draft picks from the final AP Top Ten the year before.

  • 2013 Season/2014 Draft - 9 picks
  • 2014 Season/2015 Draft - 7 picks
  • 2015 Season/2016 Draft - 12 picks
  • 2016 Season/2017 Draft - 14 picks
  • 2017 Season/2018 Draft - 12 picks

Now I know that teams could’ve had underclassmen go on to become first round picks in later drafts, but we’re looking at immediate top-end CFB success in relation to having high draft picks on your team. 2013 FSU had exactly one First Rounder in the draft immediately following. Ohio State the next season had zero. Alabama in 2016 had one First Rounder in the next draft. Over the last couple of years, the Bamas and Georgias of the world have dominated the draft following a good season, but it’s hard to produce a first round pick in the NFL. There are so many different things that come into play. One thing’s for certain though — our Non-First Rounders kicked the hell out of Alabama and Georgia’s First Rounders this past season. - Jack Condon


What is your favorite SEC road-trip? - Will Riggan

I don’t exactly have a great history with road trips. Currently, I am 1-2 in road trips (not counting neutral site games), with my only win coming on a Thursday night in Lexington. And while the trip was a blast, it wasn’t because of that ugly football game or lack of tailgating, it was because of the people I was with. My two losses came in sub 40 degree Athens (‘14 and ‘16), and while it’s easy to say Athens is a fun place with a nice downtown scene, I wouldn’t recommend it to Auburn fans. UGA fans get an extra kind of nasty around us, and combined with the cold and ass-beatings we got there, I can’t recommend Athens either. So, in lieu (or should I say lieaux) of a better answer, I will have to say going to Baton Rouge is on top of my list. Obviously there’s the stories, but I also have a large amount of LSU grad/fan extended family, and I’ve never been to a party of there’s that wasn’t a blast and delicious. Maybe if I go, I can help break the losing streak we have down there, too. - Ryan Sterritt

Like Ryan, I have a horrible history with road trips. I am 0 for 3 in Auburn SEC Road Trips having been to Arkansas, Georgia and LSU. Of those 3, l would have to say LSU was my “favorite” because of the atmosphere and the fact I got a chance to walk around most of campus before the game last year. And to be honest, my experience at LSU wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it to be. They do, however, easily mistake Auburn’s shakers for pom-poms. That said, I’m really looking forward to going to the Grove this year. And my ultimate goal is to see Auburn play in every SEC stadium (it’s gonna take a really long time). -Will McLaughlin

I have done a bit better in road games (11-5), have been to most of the town’s in the SEC (Columbia, SC only one left) and only have a handful of stadiums left (Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Alabama). Ole Miss is fantastic as has been stated, and I’ve never had a bad experience at LSU, in fact I’ve met some life long friends as long as you put up with that first Tiger Bait chant. However I will go with a more surprising pick and that was Columbia, MO.

Great bar in CoMo

We really didn’t tailgate but we went to one of the bars (Shiloh) just north of campus and had an absolute blast watching games and having cheap beverages while we got to see what a beautiful Saturday it was in the bar. I will say this as a summary, I won’t have to do much convincing to get my dad (Big Dave to my buddies and I) to go back.

The man, the myth, the legend...Big Dave

-Drewmac20

This is a great one. I’ve seen some great games, a few painful losses, and several amazing wins. It’s a tough list but:
Just the atmosphere: 2009 LSU. Everything you hear about the tailgating is true. There was even a bonus for this one because everyone was cheering for Tennessee to beat Alabama before the game. Only blemish on this trip was the result.
Just the game: 2005 Georgia. 9 lead changes. Auburn had 23 first downs to Georgia’s 22. Time of possession was basically even. Both teams came up with huge turnovers. There was over 950 yards of total offense. That’s all without talking about 4th and 12. Sanford Stadium got as loud as I’ve heard any away stadium, and that includes Tiger Stadium and Bryant-Denny (admittedly I went pre-expansion). Then the noise shifted. Just an absolutely wild game that I’ll never forget. On the game alone I think the 2007 Florida game is the only one that comes close. And yet, it’s still not my favorite.
Best overall: 2004 Tennessee. College Gameday. To my knowledge, the only time College Gameday ever had a road team guest picker. A top 10 matchup. An SEC Championship Game preview. We had a tailgate spot in a VIP parking deck right between Neyland Stadium and the Tennessee River. Tiger Walk happened right next to us as the big money Tennessee fans could only watch and seeth. Then the game happened.

Until the second half of this past year’s Georgia game, I think this first half was the best half of football I’d ever seen Auburn play. Naturally the Tubershell reared its head and the game ended 34-10, but those that were there know Auburn could have named their score that night. - James Jones

I’ve only witnessed a few wins on the road for Auburn, and I also have an abysmal record in Athens (2007/2009), so I’m going to go with the 2010 trip to Oxford for Halloween weekend. Auburn had just come off of the win over LSU, Cam Newton was at the height of his Heisman buzz after dropping 218 rushing yards on the Bayou Bengals, and the Tigers were the new #1 in the latest BCS rankings.

We got to see the square, the Grove, and all that jazz. At one point, we decided to make our way to the stadium for Tiger Walk, but the crowds were making that nearly impossible to do. All of a sudden, we found a nice open pathway that led right to the stadium. Little did we know that we were right in the path for Ole Miss’ Walk of Champions (lol), and we were somehow unofficially leading the way for the Rebel team to head toward the stadium as well. Ole Miss fans on both sides of the path booed us as we jaunted toward Vaught-Hemingway wearing out Auburn gear, only to have the Ole Miss team come up right behind us and hear the same boos. I like to think it took them out of the proper mindset.

You remember the game — Ole Miss scored first, and it was really cute that those fans thought they had a chance. Then Cam caught Kodi Burns’ touchdown pass, and the rout was on. That night we got to enjoy the wild Halloween costume atmosphere downtown in Oxford, and on the ride back we stopped at the largest Sonic I’d ever seen, in Fulton, Mississippi. It had two playgrounds, a basketball court, and batting cages. So there’s that. - Jack Condon

Well judging by most of these answers, none of us should be going to any road games... I have a miserable road record. I have the distinct pleasure of having seen Auburn lose in Nashville twice. I’ve also watched Auburn lose twice on the road to Clemson (I know not SEC but I don’t get out much), once in knockoff Death Valley (2011) & once in Atlanta (2012). I did get to see an AU victory in Lexington in 2010 but I haven’t really had the greatest of experiences with UK fans. But since you specified “SEC road-trip”, I am gonna loophole my way out of this by saying the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta is a must do if you get the chance. I was fortunate enough to be there in 2010 & 2013. It’s a really cool and different environment where one team usually has a slight advantage in fans but not enough to really overwhelm the place. - AUNerd