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After Team Meeting, Are All Auburn’s Players In The Same Trench?

Good programs aren’t supposed to start seasons 1-4.  Forget the situation, circumstances and the excuses.  When traditionally strong football programs start 1-4, there’s going to be some internal turmoil.

The turmoil from Auburn’s 1-4 start is apparently beginning to manifest itself in some amount of finger-pointing inside the Tiger team.

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Lutzenkirchen Ready To Show What He Can Do At Auburn

Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has gained a reputation for being a pretty good football player for Auburn the past three seasons.  But that’s mainly been because of his blocking and his red zone production.  Now he thinks he’s ready to show even more of his talents thanks to the arrival of new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.

Out goes Gus Malzahn’s spread attack and in comes Loeffler’s more traditional, balanced scheme.  The senior believes he’ll have more opportunities as a receiver in the Tigers’ new system:

 

“I haven’t been able to show what I can do in that standpoint over the past three years.  I’ve had success in the previous offense, and we won a national championship in it.  But selfishly, I’m kind of excited for this season to kind of put together the whole package of what a tight end does and really show what I can do.”

 

Tight ends coach Jay Boulware told The Opelika-Auburn News that he, too, expects Lutzenkirchen to “be more versatile” in 2012.  “This is more of a pro-style offense.  Lutz’s role is more along the lines of what most tight ends in the NFL have to do now.  They have to be both — he has to be a fullback, he has to be a tight end, he has to be a backside tight end, he has to be a wideout.”

The tight end said that he’s already running deeper routes than he did under Malzahn’s leadership.  And to underscore Lutzenkirchen’s point, one only needs to look at his stats from the previous three seasons combined: 44 catches for 489 yards.  He has served as a red zone target, though, hauling in 14 touchdowns over that same span.

Key for Lutzenkirchen’s production, however, will be the play of Auburn’s quarterback.  As of yet, the Tigers haven’t named a starter and coaches are already limiting the number of throws Clint Moseley makes in practice because of a sore arm.  If the Tigers can’t find someone talented, smart, and healthy to run Loeffler’s offense, it might not matter what kind of routes Lutzenkirchen is running.

Update from Auburn: Coach Gene Chizik has named sophomore Kiehl Frazier the starting quarterback.

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SEC Headlines – 3/6/12 Part Two

1.  It’s a biased opinion, but Bill Self says Kansas City is a Kansas State town first, Kansas second and Missouri third.  (Would the SEC really consider playing a tourney there?)

2.  Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen is feeling better after shoulder surgery.

3.  Several ex-Tigers are gearing up for their Pro Day.

4.  A loss to Ole Miss did some damage to Alabama’s RPI.

5.  Arkansas will be fighting to keep their season alive in New Orleans.

6.  Ex-Razorback gridders are prepping for their Pro Day, too.

7.  LSU will be looking for a fresh start at the SEC Tournament.

8.  Tiger AD Joe Alleva is starting his five-year tour of duty on the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

9.  MSU’s “Mr. Double-Double” Arnett Moultrie is a changed man.

10.  “Newfound confidence” has State feeling good about themselves again.

11.  Ole Miss needs win in New Orleans if it’s to keep its bubble hope alive.

12.  Murphy Holloway has been key to the Rebels’ revival.

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SEC Headlines – 2/14/12 Valentine’s Day Edition

1.  Billy Donovan says Florida’s depth situation is “dire” rolling into Alabama.

2.  The Gator coach is warning his team it could be NIT bound if it continues to falter.

3.  Georgia could still finish 8-8 in the SEC with a red hot finish.

4.  John Calipari doesn’t want to talk about the odds of Kentucky finishing SEC play undefeated.  (UK has done it twice before… the only two times in league history it’s been done.)

5.  South Carolina has spent $150 million in facility upgrades over the last five years.

6.  Cuonzo Martin has tried a lot of different player rotations and combinations this season at Tennessee.

7.  Martin says he believes his Vols can reach the NCAA tourney by winning out.  (The numbers — as posted on the site today — would suggest otherwise.)

8.  There’s talk that Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien might transfer to Vanderbilt, but James Franklin is staying silent on the matter.  (Wonder if that means O’Brien’s not a man of honor, not a man of integrity?)

9.  It’s not a done deal yet, but dang near everyone in Alabama believes Willie Martinez will be reunited with Brian VanGorder as Auburn’s new secondary coach.

10.  Tiger tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen will likely miss spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery.

11.  Backup Arkansas quarterback Brandon Mitchell was ready when his number was called by the Razorback basketball team last weekend.

12.  This writer feels it’s time the Hogs give Nolan Richardson a permanent honor at Bud Walton Arena.

13.  LSU will try to avenge a close loss in Starkville when MSU visits Baton Rouge tonight.

14.  Freshman Johnny O’Bryant continues to come up big for the Purple and Gold.

15.  Mississippi State will play four of its next five games on the road.

16.  Rick Stansbury wants his Bulldogs to kickstart their defensive efforts.

17.  Ole Miss’ search for a new athletic director?  Still going.

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Good News For AU, Bad News For Us: Lutzenkirchen To Return

Gotta admit it.  This writer was hoping Philip Lutzenkirchen would leave Auburn early for the NFL.  Oh not for any rooting-interest reasons.  I just hate having to type his name because I know sooner or later I’ll fumble and mistype it.

In all seriousness, in a bit of good news for a program in need of some positivity, Lutzenkirchen announced on Twitter last night that he will return to the Plains for his senior season:


“It’s official world.  I’m staying for SR year.  War eagle!”


Lutzenkirchen caught 24 passes for 238 yards last year in Gus Malzahn’s run-first system.  While his overall catch totals aren’t eye-popping, seven of his 24 receptions went for touchdowns.  That was the team-high for Auburn pass-catchers.

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Chizik, Malzahn Making Final Plans For Bowl Game

Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Bowl against Virginia will feature Gus Malzahn’s departure from Auburn and Gene Chizik’s return to his defensive coordinator roots.  Both men are already making plans.

According to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, his offensive coordinator has big things in store for the Cavaliers.  “He’s going to throw the book at them,” he said of Malzahn’s gameplan.  Malzahn will take over as Arkansas State’s head coach after the bowl.

Chizik, meanwhile, is filling in for departed D-coordinator Ted Roof.  And he always coached from the pressbox as a coordinator in the past.  Any chance he coaches from on high Saturday?  Uh, no.

“Really and truly, my plan is to be on the sideline,” Chizik said.  “I’d give it 90-10.”

“That’s going to be the challenge for me, obviously.  Even when I was a defensive coordinator before all those years I never called a game before from on the field.  Obviously, I’m going to have to be involved in the total aspect of the game — third downs, fourth downs, ‘are we going to go for it?’  I feel like we’ve got a pretty good plan in place, but when everything starts flying fast out there, sometimes it gets pretty hairy out there.  But that’s going to be my plan right now.”

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Counting Twitter Followers Around The SEC

Yesterday we brought you the schedule for next week’s SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.  As if trying to prove that we’re very much in the dog days of summer, David Morrison of The Opelika-Auburn News took things a step further.

He counted the number of Twitter followers for each player scheduled to attend Media Days in an effort to see which school is bringing the most “popular” trio of athletes.  We salute his ingenuity.

So which school’s players do have the most Twitter followers?  Here’s his list:


1.  Auburn — 15,635 followers
2.  Georgia — 12,548
3.  South Carolina — 7,821
4.  Kentucky — 7,733
5.  Tennessee — 5,780
6.  Florida — 4,346
7.  Alabama — 4,271
8.  Ole Miss — 3,712
9.  Arkansas — 3,672
10.  LSU — 1,556
11.  Miss. State — 441
12.  Vanderbilt — 173


Morrison also broke down the Twitter numbers for each player and listed the 10 “most popular” players who’ll be attending Media Days.  You can see the full list right here.  (Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen is the biggest draw.)

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Mid-Afternoon Nuggets

Just a couple more notes for you this afternoon:

1.  Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen’s role could grow at Auburn as Gus Malzahn tweaks his non-Cam Newton offense.

2.  This writer says Stanley McClover and the rest of “the HBO Four” should tell the whole truth to the NCAA… if they really want to fix college athletics.

3.  Speaking of McClover, his mouth could save some Auburn students some money.

4.  CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd had a little fun with John Calipari at the Final Four and he caught some hell from some UK fans for it.  He responds by telling Cat fans: “Sometimes we give you stuff you need to read, as opposed to what you want to read.” 

5.  Speaking of Calipari, he’s lined up the top recruiting class in the country.  For the third straight year he’s done this.  Oy.

6.  Tennessee has a crowded secondary this spring.

7.  Georgia’s Travis Leslie plans to test the NBA draft waters without signing with an agent. 

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UM B’baller Nelson Looking “Great”

According to a source quoted by Parrish Alford of The Northeast Mississippi Journal, Ole Miss freshman guard Dundrecous Nelson (and freshman center Demarco Cox) will be “great.”

Is this really big enough news to warrant it’s own blurb?  Probably not.  It’s third-hand info and who knows what “great” really means.

But I include it here because Dundrecous Nelson now joins Rantavious Wooten and Barkevious Mingo on MrSEC.com’s “All-Scrabble Team.”

Not making the cut: Philip Lutzenkirchen… mainly because I’m more likely to misspell that one.

But welcome to the SEC, Dundrecous.  You’re sure to win me some bucks the next time I’m playing “SEC Athletes” Scrabble for cash.

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Chizik Goes Easy On The Tigers In Practice

Last Saturday, Auburn won a physical 24-17 game over previously-unbeaten LSU.  Next Saturday, they’ll go back on the road for the first time in three weeks to visit Ole Miss in Oxford.  In between, Gene Chizik chose to give his team a bit of a break this week.

Instead of the usual tough Tuesday practice, Auburn’s coach allowed his team to go in shorts and shells.

“I think Coach Chizik knew we needed a little bit of a break,” Philip Lutzenkirchen told The Birmingham News.  “It didn’t hurt our intensity.”

Good coaches know when to loosen the reins and when to tighten them.  Facing a potential trap game in Mississippi, Chizik chose to loosen them… for a day.  If the Tigers continue to mow over their SEC foes he’ll be hailed as a genius.  If the Tigers stub their toes, then you can be certain his decision to relax on Tuesday will be greatly over-analyzed.

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