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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Auburn-Furman pre-game

It's a lovely day in Auburn, a great day for a homecoming football game. Although there were very sparse crowds tailgating on the way in. Early kickoffs will do that.

This will be the standard pre-game post. I'll start with some facts about the game you should know and continue to update it as the game gets closer with pertinent information, mindless musings, etc.

Let's start with the facts ...
  • Auburn has won all three meetings in the series, the last coming in 1956. The Tigers have allowed only six points in all three of those games.
  • The Tigers have won 17 straight homecoming games and is 31-2-1 in their last 43 homecoming contests.
  • There is no line on the game. Vegas doesn't assign point spreads to games involving teams from the Football Championship Subdivision.
  • Auburn is averaging 427.6 yards per game. If it keeps up that pace, it will break the school record for offense in a season with 5,559 yards.
  • The Tigers have 11 scoring drives this season that have lasted less than a minute. Ten of those have results in touchdowns.
  • Auburn has four non-offensive touchdowns this year (three defensive, one special teams).
  • Three of Auburn's last five opponents have converted on fewer than 25 percent of their third downs. This was an Achilles' heel for the Tigers the first few weeks.
  • Ben Tate is 11th nationally in rushing (118.6 ypg) and has six 100-yard games this year. He is fifth in school history in rushing (3,026 yards) and has 1,067 yards this season, tops in the SEC.
  • Chris Todd has 13 of Auburn's 16 touchdown passes. The Tigers had seven all of last year.
  • Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery have combined for 54 catches for 949 yards and 10 touchdowns. Entering the year they have five catches for 42 yards.
  • Antonio Coleman leads the team with 11 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He's fifth in school history with 20 career sacks, one behind current defensive line coach Tracy Rocker.
Enough about Auburn, what do we know about Furman? Glad you asked:
  • The Paladins are 4-4 overall, 3-3 in the Southern Conference, which is good enough for a fourth-place tie.
  • Auburn is the second Football Bowl Subdivision team Furman will play this year. The Paladins lost to Missouri 52-12 earlier this year.
  • Furman is 5-19-1 all-time against FBS (formerly I-A) competition, its lone win coming in 1999 against North Carolina (28-3 in fact). But it's had some close losses recently. Here's a sampling:
  • 2008: 24-7 to Virginia Tech (Hokies would later win the Orange Bowl)
  • 2006: 45-42 to North Carolina
  • 2004: 41-38 OT to Pittsburgh (Panthers, although bad, would play in the Fiesta Bowl)
  • 2003: 28-17 to Clemson
  • 2001: 20-14 to Wyoming
  • Among Furman's most notable alums are John Watson, the "father of behavioral psychology," Charles Townes, the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the later; and Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops. Psychology, lasers and orchestras -- that's what Furman does.
  • In its game notes, it says Furman will get $425,000 for playing this game. Auburn said $375,000 earlier this week. It's got to be somewhere in that range.
  • Furman's starting quarterback is pretty good. Jordan Sorrells is second on the Paladins' all-time total offense list with 5,666 career yards and 36 touchdowns accounted for. He trails only Ingle Martin (2004-05), who I think we all remember finished with 6,277 career yards. With three games left, I'd say Sorrells has a pretty good shot of breaking that record.
  • Linebacker Kadarron Anderson has 74 (74!)tackles in the last four games. Think he might be around the ball today?
  • Strange stat: Furman has 26 wins against SEC opponents. Twenty of those are against South Carolina, although that was before it was an SEC member. The last time those state rivals played was 1982.
  • There are a couple of notable Alabamans on Furman's roster:
  • True freshman RB Jerry Williams went to Prattville, where his teams went 43-1 and won three 6-A state championships. He has a 359 rushing yards this year with a touchdown, although he suffered a ankle sprain last week. We'll see how much he plays today.
  • Junior receiver Adam Mims is from Birmingham's Spain Park. He has 55 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Senior left guard Tyler Haynes is from Birmingham's Vestavia Hills. He's made 27 career starts.
  • And of course, what list would be complete without junior All-Southern Conferenece rover Max Lerner, who will always be remembered as one of the stars of the MTV reality show "Two-A-Days," which featured Hoover High in Birmingham. Lerner, despite that bit of infamy, is a pretty good player. He has 49 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a team-best two interceptions this year. Greenville News sportswriter Willie Smith had this to say about Lerner in a Q&A I did with him before the season. "By the way, despite the 'Two-A-Days' stint, Lerner is a hard-nosed safety, who played even better than I believe the coaches expected. Watching the reaction to him on the road (mostly by coeds), however, is pretty funny. At a game against Western Carolina in 2007, the entire WCU dance squad waited outside the Furman locker room, then squealed when he came out."
10:42 update: I forgot to mention that injured safety Zac Etheridge was at the men's basketball game last night, according to a few reporters who were there. Auburn will wear white wristbands with the number "4" written on them for their teammate, who will miss the rest of the year with a neck injury. Not sure if Etheridge will be here today or not, although I figure he might if he was at the basketball game last night.

11:56 update: Your non-dressed list: DL Zach Clayton, S Drew Cole, DE Nosa Eguae, OL Vance Smith.

11:57 update: RB Onterio McCalebb is dressed. We'll see how much he plays.

12:00 update: Wide receivers Anthony Gulley and Philip Pierre-Louis are working with the defensive backs in pre-game warmups. Wonder if this is a safety net thing. The Tigers are pretty light at cornerback with Demond Washington moving to safety.

12:04 update: This was the backup group at secondary in warmups: Gulley and D'Antoine Hood at cornerback; T'Sharvan Bell and Mike Slade at safety.

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