In just under seven weeks, Auburn football returns. That means that From the Other Sideline returns as well. I know you can’t wait. Since you can’t, I’ll be doing bi-weekly (that means twice a week) summer editions of your favorite series to get your fix and early look at Auburn’s 2013 schedule from bloggers and writers viewing this whole thing from the other side.
Tim Huddleston graduated from Washington State in 2003 and began writing for WSUFootballBlog.com in January of 2011 after The Blogfathers (?) put out an open call to the public for some new bloggers. He now lives in Sedro-Woolley, WA and can be found on Twitter @Huddlestron. He also “can’t freaking wait for August 31.”
1. What are a common Washington State fan’s first thoughts when it comes to Auburn football?
The sense that I get this year is that many of our fans are thrilled to have Auburn on the schedule again since the trip was so outstanding for many last time. We love Martin Stadium and Gamedays in Pullman, but to say the atmosphere at an SEC game is a little different is an understatement. I’m not personally making the trip, but plenty of Coug fans are excited to head South. Otherwise, there is some relief that we’re catching Auburn at the “right time”, coming off a down year. That said, Wazzu’s recent history is terrible so we’re not exactly puffing our chests.
2. Name two past and two current Auburn footballers that scare you and why.
The scariest former Auburn player has got to be Bo Jackson, in real life or Tecmo Bowl. As an aside, I’m a Bengals fan so sorry about that whole ruining his hip thing. Cam Newton is pretty scary for what his college career could have meant for intercollegiate athletics, but he’s just so darn smiley.
Truth be told, I don’t know enough about the current roster to have anyone striking fear in my heart (and yes, I look forward to eating these words later). I’d have to say that the thing that scares me is the return of the Guz Malzahn to run the offense and the fact that we’re a team coming off an historic string of ineptitude starting the year in SEC country.
3. Who are two current Washington State players that Auburn fans should keep their eyes own?
Offensively, I’d say Dominique Williams, a wide receiver. He took over for Marquess Wilson after he quit last season and looked awfully impressive down the stretch, especially in a dominant performance in the win over Washington. Every offense needs a big play guy and he’s ours. Also, he has an amazing head of hair so keep your eyes out for him on the sideline. Watch out for another receiver, Gabe Marks, as well. He was phenomenal in Spring Ball, but he’s done that in camp before, and he wore down a bit as the season went on.
Defensively, I’d say our best player is middle linebacker Daryl Monroe. We’ve been lean over the past few years on guys who at least pass the eye test for big time football. Monroe is definitely one of those guys. He should end up on some Pac-12 award lists this year. Linebacker is a strength this season and our defense is set up to blitz from all over the place with the LB’s. Monroe flying up the middle is a good look for the Cougar defense.
4. How has the offseason been? Any crazy arrests or other stories?
For the most part, it’s been pretty quiet. There was one ugly incident that involved several of our players getting into a fight with several guys from the University of Idaho football team (the two universities are seven miles apart). Sadly, it ended in a fractured skull and the end of back-up TE/WR Mansel Simmons’s football career. There was also a minor incident involving starting running back Teondray Caldwell. I believe he punched a guy at a fraternity, but I don’t think it’ll impact his status. After Mike Leach cleaned house a bit before last year and three defensive starters were lost for off the field problems, we’ll take the relative quiet.
5. How’s the mood within the fanbase? Does the win over Washington to end the season have people excited for 2013?
It’s a far cry from last year when we were all whipped into a Leach-induced frenzy so I think we’ve mostly settled into the usual preseason routine of cautious optimism. The biggest change is that there is a sense that overall Leach and his staff have the program as a whole moving in the right direction so if it’s not this year, we’re poised to breakout in a couple years. After nearly a decade of losing, we’ll take that.
6. What are your thought of the the swashbuckling pirate you have leading your team? I like him a lot by the way.
Cougar fans had a serious love affair when Leach first came on board, but the bloom is off the rose a little bit. A 3-9 record had a lot to do with it, but there were some in the fan base who didn’t like the new hard-nosed approach to discipline. The allegations by Marquess Wilson that the staff was abusive were basically ridiculous, but it still made for an especially ugly time in an already ugly season. Once he starts bringing wins back to the table, everyone can go back to unabashedly supporting him, and his idiosyncrasies.
7. Do you know if the Washington State flag will be in attendance for this year’s game? His flight costs must be outrageous.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that College GameDay will probably not be on site for WSU-Auburn. (There’s no accounting for taste!) Since Herbie and the gang won’t be there, “Ol’ Crimson” won’t be either. The flags will most assuredly be flying wherever GameDay is thanks to the efforts of Cougar Nation. And no, it’s not terribly cheap, but if any Auburn fans out there want to chip in to the cause, you can make donations here.
8. What is your early score prediction for this year’s game?
It’s hard to say. I think my Cougs will be much improved, but I’m not quite of the mindset that they’ll be able to walk into Auburn and pull out a win. Our quarterback, Connor Halliday, is plenty talented, but prone to horrible mistakes. Back to the fear angle, he pretty much scares the crap out of me. I can see him throwing a couple crippling picks that prove too much to overcome. Let’s say Auburn 27 – WSU 21
9. What is your early outlook for the season for Auburn and Washington State?
I tend to be the resident optimist at WSUFootballblog.com so I’m thinking WSU will pull out a 6-6 season and thanks to our famous coach get a bowl game invite for the first time since 2004.
As for Auburn, again my information is limited, but you all seem like nice folks so I’ll say SEC Champions! OK, maybe not, but I can’t imagine they’ll be down for too long. There looks to be plenty of talent in the pipeline, so 3-9 has to be an aberration.
10. What’s it like having all of those hot older women walking around on gameday? Get it? Cougars?!
I’ll just say this. In late August/early September, there is nowhere I’d rather be than Pullman, Washington. Go Cougs!