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Noah Gardner

A-Day Takeaways

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

A-Day ended in a 37-13 victory for the blue team over the white team in a game that showcased the talents of players on Auburn’s roster and raised some questions heading into the summer and fall. Here are three A-Day takeaways.  

1.       Jarrett Stidham is talented.

Heading into the spring there was a distinct buzz around Jarrett Stidham’s arrival on the plains. His performance at A-Day will do nothing to stop the Auburn faithful’s expectations from increasing even more heading into the fall. While I’m not ready to buy into Stidham completely as Jeremy Johnson flashbacks creep into my mind, there is one thing that the spring game showed for sure: Stidham is talented.

The first thing that I noticed when watching Stidham was his throwing mechanics. He steps into his throws and hits his receivers in stride with accuracy. Not to mention, he showcased his ability to complete passes downfield as his longest throw was a 50 yard reception for Nate Craig-Myers. Furthermore, he has great pocket awareness meaning he knows when to step up into the pocket and make a throw, and he knows when it is time to tuck it and run. There is a major difference between A-Day and a live regular season game, but one can count on that Stidham has the talent to perform at a high level.

2.       Where are the tight ends?

Over the past few seasons the tight end in Auburn’s offensive scheme has devolved into an absence of the actual position in the game plan. With the arrival of Chip Lindsey, Auburn fans were wondering if this meant that tight ends would make a reappearance in the offense. A-Day did not show us that would be the case.

First, look at the production that the “tight ends” had in today’s scrimmage. Jalen Harris caught two passes for 19 yards and Sal Cannella caught one pass for 15 yards. Neither player had a significant impact on the game. Canella was lined up in the slot as a receiver many times throughout the game which leads me to believe that his production will come from that part of the field and not at a true tight end position. The slot was utilized a lot in the game which could prove to be the substitute for tight end. After all, several players on Auburn’s roster have slot receiver skill sets. One has to keep in mind that John Samuel Shenker has yet to arrive on campus, and he will bring the skill set of a true tight end. Although we didn’t see much from the tight ends today, I do believe they will become a part of the offense in the future. It just will take some time for the position to be brought into the system.

3.       John Franklin III’s transition to wide receiver won’t be easy.

It didn’t work out for John Franklin III at quarterback so he decided to make the transition to wide receiver this spring. That transition does not look like it will be easy.

He didn’t look comfortable at the position and that was shown with the first two passes thrown to him early in the game. The first pass thrown to him resulted in an incompletion after he was hit from behind and the ball bounced in the air for a near interception. The second was bobbled by Franklin III and then caught which only resulted in a two yard gain. His final stat line for the day was two receptions for 12 yards. Considering his transition to wide receiver has been talked about positively, his performance was underwhelming.

My other concern in regards to him playing wide receiver is that there is stout competition at the slot position. The competition includes the likes of Will Hastings who burst on to the scene today with seven receptions for 75 yards. Hastings showed that he has developed a relationship with Stidham in the passing game as eight of Stidham’s 20 passing attempts were thrown to Hastings. What does that mean for Franklin III? He is going to have a hard time showing the coaches that he can produce on the same level as Hastings. There are also other players, like Eli Stove, that showed last season that they can play in the slot, and they are actually wide receivers. The fact that Franklin III isn’t a true wide receiver is going to hurt him in the competition. At the moment, the only way I see Franklin III being able to contribute is out of special packages, and we don’t know how much Chip Lindsey likes to utilize those at the moment.  

ESPN Radio’s 20th Major League Baseball Season Begins Opening Day, April 2

By | ESPN 106.7 News | No Comments

ESPN Radio 20 Major League Season

ESPN Radio’s 20th Major League Baseball season of 71 games will include multiple appearances from several top teams including the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Commentator Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton return this year as ESPN Radio’s lead commentator team.

The season begins on Opening Day as Kris Bryant and the Cubs visit Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, April 2, at 7 p.m. ET*. ESPN Radio will also broadcast the Cubs’ home opener on Monday, April 10, at 7 p.m. against the Dodgers – a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series.
Among the other highlights this season include: Seven games showcasing the defending Champion Cubs; seven New York Yankee games; six St. Louis Cardinal matchups; and the New York Yankees visiting the Boston Red Sox on July 16. In addition, ESPN Radio will be the exclusive radio home for the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and the 88th MLB All Star Game from Marlins Park in Miami, on Monday, July 10, and Tuesday, July 11, respectively. Every MLB postseason game will be broadcasted for the 20th consecutive year. Postseason coverage will include any potential tie-breaker games, Wild Card games, National and American League Division Series, National League Championship Series, the American League Championship Series and the World Series.
All MLB games on ESPN Radio will be preceded by the Baseball Tonight pregame show offering news, previews and analysis of upcoming games. As the season progresses, additional matchups on ESPN Radio will be announced.
Confirmed schedule (additional games will be announced at a later date):
Date
Time (ET)
Game / Commentators
Sun, Apr 2
7 p.m.
Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Amin & Chris Singleton
Mon, Apr 3
6:30 p.m.
Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers
Adam Amin & Chris Singleton
Sat, Apr 8
3:30 p.m.
New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
TBD & Chris Singleton
Sun, Apr 9
7 p.m.
Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Mon, Apr 10
7 p.m.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sat, Apr 15
12:30 p.m.
St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sun, Apr 16
7 p.m.
St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sat, Apr 22
3:30 p.m.
Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sun, Apr 23
7 p.m.
Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sat, Apr 29
3:30 p.m.
Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sun, Apr 30
7 p.m.
Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sun, May 7
7 p.m.
New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs
Sat, May 13
12:30 p.m.
Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Sun, May 14
6:30 p.m.
Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Sat, May 20
6:30 p.m.
Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers
Sun, May 21
7 p.m.
Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers
Sat, May 27
6:30 p.m.
New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates
Sun, May 28
7 p.m.
New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates
Mon, May 29
3:30 p.m.
Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants
Roxy Bernstein & TBD
 
6:30 p.m.
Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals
Sun, Jun 4
6:30 p.m.
St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
Sun, Jul 9
7 p.m.
Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
Adam Amin & TBD
Mon, Jul 10
8 p.m.
T-Mobile Home Run Derby
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Tue, Jul 11
7 p.m.
MLB All-Star Game
Jon Sciambi & Chris Singleton
Sun, Jul 16
7 p.m.
New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
Sun, Jul 23
7 p.m.
St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
Sun, Aug 20
6 p.m.
St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates

* Windows include the pregame show

Has Auburn Basketball Improved Under Bruce Pearl?

By | Auburn University News | No Comments

pearlAuburn, Ala. – Following Auburn’s first-round SEC Tournament defeat to Missouri, Auburn’s postseason hopes appear to be dashed. With Auburn’s postseason drought on the verge of being extended to eight years, Tiger fans are wondering if Auburn Basketball has improved under Bruce Pearl.

It is no secret that Tony Barbee left the Auburn program in a bad place, but how far has Auburn come since his departure? When just comparing the records of Barbee and Pearl, Auburn has taken small steps in the right direction.

Both head coaches posted a win percentage lower than 50 percent. Barbee finished his time at Auburn with a 49-75 record and a .40 win percentage, while Pearl has accumulated a 44-54 record and a .45 win percentage.

Furthermore, Pearl has led Auburn to a winning season, their first since 2008-09, something Barbee failed to do in his time at Auburn. The Tigers seem to be on track to do even better next season.

In his first season on the plains, Pearl recorded a 15-20 record in 2014-15 and followed it up with an 11-20 season in 2015-16. Although there was a drop in overall wins, Auburn did win one more conference game in 2015-16 than the year before, including a victory over the Kentucky Wildcats.

Then there was this season. Auburn posted an 18-14 record with a 7-11 record in conference play. Considering that this is Auburn’s first winning season in seven years, it sounds like Auburn is developing. Right?

The metric statistics suggest that this year’s Auburn squad is better than the two before it. This season, the Tigers posted their highest points per possession under Pearl with a 1.035. That is slightly above average for college basketball teams.

Auburn also posted their best opponent points per possession stat under Pearl this season with a 1.024. That is slightly below average for college basketball teams.

When you subtract opponent points per possession from points per possession, a statistic called efficiency margin (EM) is derived. This is an indicator of how good a college basketball team is. Auburn finished this season with their best efficiency margin under Pearl with a .011. To put that in perspective, at this point in time North Carolina has a .16 and that is one of the best EMs in the nation. A .011 suggests that Auburn is an average basketball team.

The year before Auburn had a -.10 EM making them a poor basketball team in the eyes of metrics. For Auburn to make a .111 jump in EM over one season, that is a major sign of improvement.

Auburn is in an unprecedented point for recruiting as well. Auburn signed their first five-star recruit in program history when they landed Mustapha Heron. They followed that up with the signings of Austin Wiley, Chuma Okeke and Davion Mitchell, all of which are high profile recruits.

With the amount of talent and core of this year’s team returning coupled with the arrival of Mitchell and Okeke, all indications point toward next season being even better for the Tigers.

The season ended bitter sweet. Auburn might have ended the year by losing to the worst team in the conference in the first round of the SEC Tournament, but hope can be seen through the smoke of the dumpster fire that was the Auburn program at the end of this year.

Back away from the cliff Tiger fans. Auburn is taking steps in the right direction. Baby steps, but steps nonetheless.