Tag Archives: Ronnie Brown

AutoNation Cure Bowl: San Jose State vs. Georgia State

The San Jose State Spartans (5-7, 4-4 in the Mountain West Conference) will meet the Georgia State Panthers (6-6, 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference) in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl on Saturday, December 19th, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Kickoff time is 7 PM EST. It will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. This will be the sixth bowl appearance for the Spartans. The Panthers will be playing in their first bowl game ever. San Jose State has been installed as a 3.5 favorite.

Ron Caragher is 14-22 in his three years as head coach at San Jose State. Trent Miles, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year Award recipient, also just completed his third season as the head man at Georgia State. His record stands at 7-29.

San Jose State

At 5-7, the Spartans garnered this bowl invitation due to their high graduation rate. They scored 975, out of 1,000, on their APR (Academic Progress Rate).

I got a good look at the Spartans, back on October 3rd, as they played Auburn on the Tigers’ homecoming. Their ‘bell cow’ is Tyler Ervin. He carried the ball 27 times for 160 yards and a TD that day. He also returned two kickoffs for 59 yards. He is for real. He toted the rock for 1,469 yards in 2015 and totaled 2,410 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns. Ervin was also named to the first-team All-Mountain West team. His biggest games were 330 yards on the ground against Fresno State and 263 against New Mexico.

The Lobos, from Albuquerque, were the victims of a 31-21 defeat at the hands of San Jose State. That was the Spartans most impressive win of the season.

Quarterback Kenny Potter is one to watch, Saturday, as well. He is very accurate, with a 68.5 completion percentage, and he is mobile. He rushed for 346 yards and six TD’s. Potter was named the Outstanding Offensive Player at San Jose State in 2015.

The Outstanding Defensive Player, at San Jose State, went to Cleveland Wallace. Wallace is a defensive back who made three picks and broke up seven passes. He was in on 43 tackles this year.

And, the Spartans have a second-team All-American (Football Writers Association of America) in Michael Carrizosa. Carrizosa averaged 47.7 yards-per-punt and was a Ray Guy Award finalist.

As a side note, their offensive coordinator is Al Borges, who held the same position at Auburn from 2004-’07. As many of you know, Auburn went 13-0 in ’04 and were led by running backs Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Ronnie Brown. They were both top five draft picks and quarterback, Jason Campbell, was also selected in round one of the 2005 NFL draft.

Georgia State

The Georgia State Panthers are only in their sixth season as a football team. Bill Curry was their first head coach and helped build the program to its, now, FBS status. They play their home games in the Georgia Dome and hope to  have a stadium of their own in the not-too-distant future.

The Sun Belt Student Athlete of the Year Award went to Georgia State quarterback Nick Arbuckle. The senior, a prolific passer, threw for 4,160 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was sixth in the nation in yards passing per game with a 346.7 average.

Penny Hart, Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Award winner, hauled in 70 passes from Arbuckle. These receptions totaled 1,085 yards. He and fellow Panthers, Robert Davis and Donovan Harden, teamed up to provide the Sun Belt Conference with it’s top three receivers. Davis is a junior and Harden is a senior.

The Panthers defense features senior linebacker Joseph Patterson. Patterson made 106 tackles in 2015 and has 371 career stops.

Tarris Batiste, also a senior, is a safety who has 5 interceptions in his time at Georgia State. He also has 21.5 career tackles-for-loss.

The Sun Belt All-Conference Team features 12 Panther players.

Georgia State got off to a slow start (2-6) but finished as a very hot team. They won their last four games. The Panthers defeated rival Georgia Southern in the last game of the season, 34-7.  That was a most impressive accomplishment. You might remember that Georgia Southern took the Georgia Bulldogs to overtime before losing, 23-17.

My sense is that the Cure Bowl will be a hard-fought, exciting affair which could come down to the wire. I think the underdog, Georgia State, could well pull off the upset. They also get the +3.5 points. That looks very good from here.

Prediction. Georgia State 31, San Jose State 27

The AutoNation Cure Bowl’s presenting sponsor is the Florida Hospital with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The sponsor will host a Cure Village where fans can opt to receive mammogram screenings.

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry

I have attended twenty-five Auburn-Georgia games. My record is 13-11-1. Saturday, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise (well, the creek HAS risen, but that’s another story), will be number twenty-six for me. And I hope my record improves to 14-11-1. More on that later.

Here is a look back at some of those games I attended which were memorable and had a huge impact.

1968

The 1968 game was the first one I was privileged to view in-person. My father drove me, and my friends Frank McGraw and Mike Collins, to The Plains that rainy November morning. The weather cleared during the game.

Auburn was 6-2 with designs on an Orange Bowl invitation. Those dreams were squashed by a suffocating Bulldog defense which allowed only 3 first quarter points. The visitors scored all 17 of their points in stanza number two. The final tally was 17-3.

The Herschel Years

Herschel Walker, arguably college football’s greatest running back EVER, toted the rock at UGA for three seasons, 1980-82, and Georgia was the victor in all three. The respective scores were 31-21, 24-13, and 19-14.

I was there for all of those losses.

1982

Moral victories (is there really any such thing?) are ultimately hollow, but often provide a ray of hope. That was the case in 1982.

Georgia was undefeated and had their sights set on a second National Championship in a three-year span. They had beaten Notre Dame to accomplish this, behind the running of frosh phenom, Walker, following the 1980 season.

The Dawgs led 13-7 in the fourth quarter when Auburn’s Lionel “Little Train” James fielded a punt at his own 13-yard line and took it to the house. Tigers 14-13!

The number one team in the country responded like the champions they were with an 80-yard march that ended with Walker taking it in from the three. The two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Tigers countered with a desperation drive, engineered beautifully by quarterback Randy Campbell, that fell just short, as Campbell threw into the end zone on fourth down only to have the pass batted away with 47 ticks remaining on the clock. Game over. Georgia, 19-14.

This was the afternoon that legendary Bulldog broadcaster, Larry Munson, screamed, “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky! Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” as the game concluded, and referencing the, now upcoming, trip to the Sugar Bowl for the SEC Champion Bulldogs.

But… BUT, also as the game concluded, Auburn fans, as often we do, chanted “It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!” over and over and over. And the mood at our, and other’s tailgates, was not one of sadness or despair, but one of optimism and hope.

One game was yet to be played on that 1982 schedule, and the opponent was the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Auburn fans knew, in their heart of hearts, as one, that the nine-game winning streak that the Tide lorded over the Tigers could very well come to an end in two weeks at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

It did! Bo Jackson went “over the top” to give Auburn a 23-22 lead which they did not relinquish. That was Bear Bryant’s last regular season game as head coach at Alabama, and the balance of power, within the state, began to shift.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Another monster game in “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.”

1983

I was NOT in attendance. We were living in Albany, NY and didn’t make the game, but it’s tale is a must tell when one consider’s the enormity of the event.

Auburn had not won an SEC Championship since 1957. Third-year coach Pat Dye brought a determined group of Tigers to play “between the hedges”. They were 8-1 and number 3 in the country. Georgia was undefeated and ranked number 4.

Georgia was looking for its fourth straight league title. The winner of this one would decide who would represent the SEC in New Orleans.

Auburn would, absolutely, not be denied this time. They were in full control of the game, from the beginning, and the 13-7 triumph was not as close as the score indicated.

The twenty-six year conference championship drought came to an end in Athens.

Auburn went on to defeat the Michigan Wolverines, and Bo Schembechler, 9-7, in the Sugar Bowl. They would be crowned National Champions by the New York Times.

Schembechler said Auburn would not be able to run on Michigan. Auburn did, indeed, run on the Wolverines and Bo Jackson was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Fast forward to 2004. I’m back in attendance.

2004

Auburn… #3 and undefeated. Georgia… #5 with one loss.

ESPN College GameDay.

There is only one game in which the atmosphere was more electric on an Auburn football Saturday. That was in 1989 when Alabama came to town for the first time in the history of the series.

Auburn had already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game and was playing for a, potential, spot in the Orange Bowl in the BCS National Championship Game.

Auburn held Georgia scoreless for 57 minutes and wound up winning by a 24-6 count. It wasn’t that close. They dominated the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball.

Carnell “Cadillac” Williams carried the ball 19 times for 101 yards.

Ronnie Brown ran for 51 yards. He also caught 7 passes for 88 yards.

And how about Jason Campbell? 18 for 22 and 189 yards.

Most of us know the rest of the story.

Auburn went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama two weeks later. The Tigers should have played Southern Cal for it all. They did not, as the idiots in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls kept Oklahoma at number two, and college football fans were robbed of what would, most likely, have been a monumental ‘game for the ages’ in Miami.

Auburn WAS named National Champions by People’s National Champions and the GBE College Football Ratings, among others.

2013

‘Nuff said!!!

And that brings us to…

2015

It’s not 2004, or even 1982, but this year’s contest between Auburn and Georgia is very important. Without rehashing what is going on in Athens, with Mark Richt and his squad, Georgia needs this game… BADLY.

Auburn needs this game.

The Tigers went to to College Station and whipped the Texas A&M Aggies in a most impressive fashion.

The game plans for the offense and defense were excellent and they were well executed.

Jeremy Johnson returned as the starting signal caller and performed extremely well.

Jovon Robinson asserted himself as that ‘go to’ back that Auburn can give the ball to with complete confidence, and he will break a couple of long runs before the season is over.

The Auburn defense nabbed three picks off the arm of dynamic freshman quarterback, Kyler Murray and, very importantly, contained him in the pocket.

In short, the Tigers played Auburn Football, really, for the first time this year. Now it’s time for them to step up and do that consistently.

For the 119th time, Georgia awaits. The series stands at 55-55-8. Think it could get any closer?

There has been turmoil within the Bulldog program and Richt might be coaching for his job in these last two games, but you can believe that he will have his minions ready for Auburn. He always does. The Dawgs have won seven out of the last ten.

The stage is set.

I am of the opinion that Auburn will continue to build on what they have been doing for the past three weeks, the A&M game being their most complete one, and play their best game of the 2015 season. And I will run my record, in games I’ve attended versus Georgia, to 14-11-1.

Auburn 31, Georgia 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin’s Joel Stave: The Utterly Replaceable Quarterback

In other sports, namely baseball, the concept of wins above replacement (WAR) has become very popular.  The concept of WAR seems simple: it is a measure of how much better or worse a player is than the “average” player.  To put this in context, players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera have a higher WAR value than much of the league because they have skills and provide contributions that are far beyond average and ultimately cause their teams to have more victories with them than without them.

Going into 2015, the projected Wisconsin Badgers’ starting quarterback is Joel Stave.  EVERYTHING HINGES ON HIM (and to a lesser degree, Corey Clement).  If Stave performs well, the Badger offense becomes well balanced, possibly lethal.  If Stave is average or below average, good teams will load up against the run, force Wisconsin to pass, and the offense will struggle.  He is the result of the Wisconsin quarterback development process and possesses a lot of “experience,” but has been generally underwhelming.  For me, he is the epitome of average and, in the context of WAR, it isn’t readily apparent that having Stave under center provides the Wisconsin offense with any real advantage.  Stave has never been able to truly separate himself from the other quarterbacks on the roster.  Since being on campus, he always seems to be in a quarterback competition of some sort.  He has battled and, to varying degrees “won” competitions with Curt Phillips, Danny O’Brien, and Tanner McEvoy.  In addition to beating out these potential quarterbacks, Stave has survived three head coaches, four quarterback coaches, and has overcome a case of the “yips.”

Adjectives like gritty, embattled, tough, grizzled, and game manager are words that a Stave supporter can use to describe the quarterback.  These are also words that are used when a player doesn’t have any elite skills.  He is much like former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell who had three different offensive systems in four years at Auburn and in his first seven years in the NFL had five different head coaches.  Jason Campbell’s coaching turmoil in the NFL has led him to become a capable backup and a spot starter.  However, like Stave, he always finds himself in the mix, but never able to truly thrive and never asked to do more than simply not make mistakes and keep his team in the game.  Always being in the mix, but never being able to separate from the pack makes a quarterback, or any other position player for that matter, very average, and, ultimately, very replaceable.

Stave will never be a first round pick like Jason Campbell.  In fact, Stave will probably go undrafted.  Although Campbell was a first round NFL draft pick, he probably would not have been selected so highly had he not been playing with two first round running backs, Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, and a first round cornerback, Carlos Rogers.  For the 2015 season, Stave doesn’t have the same luxuries that Jason Campbell had in his final season at Auburn.  Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal are good players, but at this point they do not have Cadillac Williams/Ronnie Brown-type abilities.  Wisconsin’s defense has some talent, but it doesn’t have a shutdown corner at the level of Carlos Rogers.  Without any true stars to bolster an average quarterback, it is a stretch to think that Stave and Wisconsin will be able to have anything but an average Wisconsin season.

While Stave has not shown that he can be a game-changing quarterback, his possible replacement, Bart Houston, has not shown that he perform at a high level either creating the dreaded “if you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none” scenario.  Despite being a 4-star recruit out of De La Salle in Concord, California, Houston has not lived up to his recruiting hype, has always been on the outside looking in during offseason quarterback battles, and is on the verge of ending his college career without taking a truly meaningful snap.

Joel Stave embodies my prediction of what this season will hopefully become:  an average year with the Badgers ending with a respectable, but not stellar 8-4 or 9-3.  Their record will net them a respectable, but not stellar, bowl like the Alamo Bowl or the Outback Bowl and this season, like many others will go into the file of “if only Wisconsin had a truly great quarterback.”

WAR Badgers!

10 Years Ago: The 2004 Tigers, Auburn’s Best?

 
Last Saturday Auburn honored it’s 2004 football team on it’s tenth anniversary. This was a great football team. They won the SEC going away and should have played for a national championship. Officially they finished second in both polls after they defeated Virginia Tech, 16-13, in the Sugar Bowl. But was this team the greatest to ever take the field at Auburn?
There certainly have been quite a few great football teams at Auburn. The 1913 team went 8-0 and gave up only 13 points all season. They were recognized by Billingsley as the National Champions. The 1957 team, National Champions according to the AP voters, had a 10-0 record and gave up only 28 points that year. The 1983 unit finished the season 11-1 with a 9-7 victory over Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. They were proclaimed National Champions by the New York Times, Rothman and the College Football Researchers Association. The 2010 team defeated Oregon, 22-19, in the BCS National Championship Game which culminated a 14-0 season.
And how about last year’s Auburn Tigers? This team came absolutely out of nowhere to win the SEC Championship. Who woulda thunk it? Seriously, did even the most dyed-in-the-wool, orange and blue Kool-Aid drinking, War Eagle screaming, optimistic Auburn fan think that the 2013 Tigers had even a remote chance at winning the SEC and play for the BCS National Championship? I had them at 9-3 and third in the West Division… TOPS!
All of the aforementioned teams were superb. They all deserve their rightful places as SEC and, in the minds of many, National Champions. But which group of Tigers is the best in school history?
A compelling argument can and should be made for Auburn’s 2004 team. First let’s take a look at the scores:
Auburn 31 LA-Monroe 0
Auburn 43 Mississippi State 14
Auburn 10 LSU 9
Auburn 33 The Citadel 3
Auburn 34 Tennessee 10
Auburn 52 LA Tech 7
Auburn 38 Arkansas 20
Auburn 42 Kentucky 10
Auburn 35 Ole Miss 14
Auburn 24 Georgia 6
Auburn 21 Alabama 13
Auburn 38 Tennessee 28 (SEC Championship Game)
Auburn 16 Virginia Tech 13 (Sugar Bowl)
Auburn averaged 32.1 points per game, first in the SEC, and their opponents averaged 11.3 points per game. That is a 20.8 average margin of victory which put the Tigers first in the SEC in that department.The 11.3 points allowed per game was first in all of college football. As a matter-of-fact the Tiger defense DID NOT ALLOW A RUSHING TOUCHDOWN UNTIL THE NINTH GAME OF THE SEASON! That same defense gave up an average of only 237.4 total yards per game.
In 2004 Auburn defeated FOUR teams that were ranked in the top ten when they played the Tigers. Southern Cal and Oklahoma, who played in the BCS National Championship Game, came up against only three teams ranked in the top ten, when they played them, COMBINED.
Auburn had four players (Ronnie Brown, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell) selected in the first round of the NFL Draft off of the 2004 squad. Rogers was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award which is given to the best defensive back in the country.
1913, 1957, 1983, 2004, 2010 and 2013. In every one of these years Auburn achieved excellence on the gridiron. But last Saturday, September 6th, the 2004 Auburn Tigers were recognized for their accomplishments. The view from here is-that outstanding group of players and coaches, led by head coach Tommy Tuberville, was the greatest to ever wear the burnt orange and navy blue.