In-depth game preview and analysis from the Auburn sideline.
Big thanks to Chris Fuhrmeister at College and Magnolia for looking past some ridiculous questions in order to give some really outstanding analysis of the the Razorbacks' opponent Saturday.
[Editor's Note: To see BVC's answers to College and Mag's questions, check out the other side of the Q&A on their site.]
1. Just how hot is Gene Chizik's seat presently, and how hot would it become in the event of losing to Arkansas? Please present answers in the form of a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU).
Right now, there's just the slightest bit of warmth being detected. You know there's a little bit of heat, but it's not really worth paying attention to. It's just adding a little bit of flavor to the overall taste. I'd compare it to biting into a peperoncini right before devouring six slices of Papa John's pizza.
Now, if Arkansas knocks off our beloved Tigers this weekend, things are going to change. Auburn will be 1-4, and any hope for salvaging anything from the season will be gone. This year is all about development and showing improvement before getting back into contention next year. If Auburn loses to this God awful Arkansas team, it will be clear that the Tigers are truly going in the wrong direction. There's a good chance that Chizik would lose his team, and if that happens, there's a legitimate chance that he could be gone. I never thought I'd say that, but it's true. It's kind of like when your buddy dares you to drink the Habanero hot sauce. You don't think it could be that hot, but then you're chugging milk and sitting on the toilet for the next two days.
2. How much, if any, Phantom Offense Pain associated with the departure of former Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn is being experienced by the team and fan base? In the event the Auburn season goes south and Chizik is shown the door, how much support would Malzahn receive as a candidate to replace him?
Eh, not too much. Last year's offense pretty much sucked, too, and Auburn fans, for the most part, have always preferred pro-style offenses to the spread. New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler isn't receiving a ton of praise, but no one is really yearning for the Days of Malzahn.
If Chizik gets the boot, I don't think Malzahn would be a legitimate option. There was a message board rumor flying around about a year ago that Auburn would fire Chizik after this season and then hire Malzahn, but I don't see it happening. Like I said, Auburn folks prefer a pro-style offense, and we're not convinced a zone read-based spread can be competitive in the SEC without an elite player at quarterback -- ahem, Cam Newton. Plus, a somewhat popular thought is that Malzahn mailed it in last season. He didn't teach Frazier proper footwork or how to make reads, and he may have coddled Mike Dyer, who we'll discuss later. Auburn fans love Malzahn for the role he played in 2010, but as strange as it sounds, we weren't all that disappointed to see him go at the end of last season.
3. Does Trooper Taylor do any actual coaching, or just jump around wearing a backwards caps and hip-check players coming off the field? The rest of the SEC has wondered for years.
Hey, every good fighter needs a hype man. Trooper Taylor is our hype man.
As far as how much/little coaching he does, all you have to do is look at his responsibilities. Taylor is Auburn's wide receivers coach, and our wide receivers, with the exception of Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen, have been useless over the past year and a half. So no, I don't think he actually does any coaching.
But hey, he's a really awesome hype man.
4. In light of Quan Bray's suspension, which Auburn receiver looks to be the favorite target of Kiehl Frazier's shot puts? What is the general feel of the Tiger receiving corp as a whole? Because the Razorback secondary is really, really bad.
This will actually be an interesting matchup. The Arkansas secondary seems to be a bunch of toddlers and old men in rocking chairs, but I'm not sure that Auburn's receiver corps isn't a bunch of random students on light walks that happen to look like routes. Blake and Lutzenkirchen have been solid, and they will always be Kiehl's favorite targets. Bray was beginning to step up, so losing him hurts. I don't know if anyone else will make an impact.
HOWEVAH, if you're looking for a relatively unknown Auburn receiver to make a huge impact, look no further than redshirt freshman Sammie Coates. Coates is listed at 6'2, 200 pounds, and he's an absolute burner. He has shown a couple of flashes this season, and the Arkansas game could be his breakout performance. Look for Frazier to air it out -- or at least try -- a few times to Coates.
5. If you will, please give some insight on the Auburn defense. Which defensive lineman should Hog fans look for to blow up Alvin Bailey on 3rd and short? What linebacker is poised to channel his inner Takeo Spikes while terrorizing Tyler Wilson?
Well, our interior linemen haven't been great this year, so I'm not sure if they'll be blowing anyone up. Jeffrey Whitaker and Angelo Blackson looked better against LSU, but I don't know if that was just a case of a couple of blind squirrels finding acorns -- you know, it happens every once in a while. Our linebacker play has left much to be desired this year, and if you listen closely, you can probably hear Auburn fans cursing Jake Holland's name. That position is experiencing a bit of an overhaul where more experienced, less talented players are giving way to more talented, less experienced players. So right now, it can be hit or miss.
If I were Tyler Wilson, I'd be praying to God that defensive ends Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford get some sort of stomach illness and have to miss the game. These guys are terrors on the pass rush, and they could seriously damage Wilson. They have combined for 36 tackles 7.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and 10 QB hurries, and those numbers don't really do them justice. If Lemonier and Ford don't beat Wilson to a pulp, Auburn may have a tough day.
6. I choose to believe that in addition to being one of the best tight ends in the SEC, Phillip Lutzenkirchen is an aspiring brewmaster who plans on crafting the perfect Belgian-style lager upon completion of his eligibility at Auburn. On a loosely related note, any must-visit locations, dive bar or otherwise, for those who are making the journey down to the Loveliest Village?
If you're in beautiful downtown Auburn, I highly suggest Quixote's and Bodega -- it's called "the Bank Vault" now, but it will always be Bodega to me. Both are solid college town bars without being too fratty or douchey. They have TVs and outdoor areas and are excellent places to to knock back a drink or 10. If a bunch of TVs is your priority, I'd go with Quixote's. If you're more interested in a great patio, go with Bodega.
If you'd like some damn good food and fancier beer, go to the Bloodhound. But be warned that the service can often suck. For a late-night slice and pitcher, hit up Little Italy.
Now, if you want to really tie one on and visit an Auburn landmark, you must visit the War Eagle Supper Club. It's way out of the way, but they have a drunk bus that will pick you up and take you home -- the number is 334-707-7143. You'll have to pay a cover and fill out a membership card, but it's worth it. The place is old as dirt and an absolute hole in the wall. It has live music -- the Velcro Pygmies play Saturday night if you're looking to re-live your band party days -- and a "shot bus" out back. Plus, they stay open until 5 or 6, and the slogan painted across the wall is "Cold beer. Hot rock. Expect no mercy." What more could you want?
7. One of the great traditions of the SEC is fantastic radio play-by-play. What is the story with Auburn's Rod Bramblett? Any annoying quirks? What trademark touchdown call can Razorback fans expect to hear replayed ad nauseum Saturday afternoon during the post-game show?
Rod Bramblett has the unfortunate responsibility of being the guy that followed The Guy. From 1981-2002, Jim Fyffe was the play-by-play man, and he fit the mold of classic SEC broadcasters like Larry Munson and Jack Cristil. Usually when Auburn found the end zone, radio listeners would be treated to Fyffe's signature "TOUCHDOOOOOWNNN AUBURNNNNNNNNNNN!" Sadly, he passed away before the 2003 season, and Bramblett has been calling Auburn games ever since.
Bramblett and color man Stan White, who quarterbacked at Auburn from 1989-93, call the games now, and they do a fine job. Bramblett is still relatively early in his broadcasting career, so he hasn't developed a true signature call yet, but he usually pays tribute to Fyffe with at least one "TOUCHDOOOOOOWNNN AUBURNNNNNNNNNN!" per game.
(For an example of Fyffe's touchdown calls, click here. The video is from the 1993 Iron Bowl that Auburn rallied to win. The Tigers finished 11-0 in Terry Bowden's inaugural season.)
8. How about an update on Shon Coleman? Intra-conference hatred is great, but hopefully that brave young man is aware of the respect he has earned from football fans across the southeast and the nation.
I am incredibly pleased to report that Coleman has received the all-clear and is on the offensive line two-deep. He hasn't gotten a ton of playing time this season, but he's still working his way back from beating cancer. I'd expect him to be a staple on the line in the future. More importantly, I'm just glad that he's healthy.
9. Jake Holland supposedly donated his lengthy tresses to Locks of Love this week. Any truth to the rumor that this is a cover up, and that he actually lost a battle and cut it in shame in the way of a Dothraki warrior?
Holland donating to Locks of Love is great, and I really appreciate the action.
But here's the thing: If you're going to wear a long, flowing mane as a linebacker, you better be a badass. So far in his career, Holland has not been a badass. I mean, you don't want to call any extra attention to yourself with a long haircut when you're being blocked out all over the field.
I like to think that, out of frustration, defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder just ripped it out.10. Michael Dyer. Discuss.
Talk about a waste of talent. The Mike Dyer and Maurice Clarett situations are eerily similar; Dyer just hasn't ended up in jail yet. After being named offensive MVP at the BCS Championship Game in 2011, Dyer's ego blew up, and he just decided that he was above the team, the rules, whatever. He was rumored to have a bad attitude in the locker room, and it is legally documented that he was a fan of carrying around guns and synthetic weed. Malzahn coddled Dyer a bit, and even gave him a second chance at Arkansas State. We saw how that worked out when Dyer was pulled over with -- you guessed it -- weed and a gun in his car.
Dyer is incredibly talented, but unless someone gets in his face and changes his attitude, he's just going to be another example of raw talent wasted on a jackass.
11. What preparations, if any, are being made for the kickoff of the better-late-than-never Heisman campaign for Tiger quarterback Kiehl Frazier that will surely be necessary after Saturday?
There's a statue of Cam Newton, along with statues of two other Heisman winners that played at Auburn, outside the stadium. We'll probably just lop off Cam's head and replace it with a bust of Kiehl.