9 months ago

Three takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart

At long last, it is game week for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn and Kentucky will kick off this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on the SEC Network. In advance of the contest, head coach Gus Malzahn released Auburn’s week one depth chart on Tuesday. A number of questions that Auburn fans may have are directly addressed with this new information. However, the news on the depth chart may also raise a few eyebrows in relation to the defensive line and secondary, specifically.

Undoubtedly, players will move up or down the depth chart over the course of the season based on quality of play, injury, COVID-19 protocol or weekly changes to the gameplan. But, the initial depth chart gives fans insight into who some of the impact players for Auburn in 2020 will be.

Let’s take a look at three key takeaways from Auburn’s 2020 depth chart:

New-look offensive line
Coming into the season, it was known that Auburn would have a number of new faces on the offensive line after graduating four of the five starters from last year’s group. The new depth chart now gives clarity to who the Tigers expect to make up the unit in 2020.

Nick Brahms is the only returning starter and retains his spot at the center position. The starters at guard are Tashawn Manning and graduate transfer Brandon Council, respectively. As expected, Brodarious Hamm has earned the starting slot at the right tackle position. The only ambiguity in the offensive line position group is at left tackle with Alec Jackson OR Austin Troxell listed as the starter. This indicates that Auburn considers these six players the top options for the five available spots.

It will be critical this season that all six “starters” and the guys listed second or third on the depth chart are ready to perform this year at a position that is often affected by injury and could always have players unavailable due to COVID-19. It was widely known that the success of the offensive line would be key to Auburn having a productive offense this year, we now know the individuals who have earned the first chance to make that happen.

18 true freshmen make an appearance

Although no true freshmen are listed as first-teamers, these young players are littered throughout the Auburn depth chart. Seven newcomers appear on the offensive side of the ball, 10 freshmen made the depth chart on defense and Australian import Oscar Chapman is listed as the potential starter at punter.

This is an impressive showing from the 2020 signing class and may signal great things to come for Auburn. Having quality depth is always important, but this year with a 10-game conference-only schedule, no spring practice and contact tracing procedures that could sideline players by the handful, many of these young men will be called upon in the here and now.

Only time will tell which of these players’ impacts will shape the Tigers’ season this fall, but history tells us that these young athletes will be called upon to deliver in high leverage moments this year. Whether or not they are up to the challenge is likely to determine the outcome of some games and even the season itself.

Surprises on the defensive side of the ball

Kevin Steele’s side of the ball has been one of the most consistent units in college football since his arrival in 2016. He and his staff have developed a clear plan of attack, a successful way of working together and an eye for players that fit the scheme. So, even if there are some shocks, Steele has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.

One of the surprises is the starting cornerback opposite of Roger McCreary. Last week, Steele indicated that there were up to five players competing for that position, so it is not a complete shock that redshirt freshman Jaylin Simpson earned the starting spot against Kentucky. However, many would have guessed that Marco Domio, who was just signed from junior college, or Nehemiah Pritchett would be the last man standing in the competition. Simpson does not have much experience, but if Steele and company trust him to get the job done, then that is a pretty good endorsement.

The most unforeseen developments on the depth chart occur on the defensive line. Colby Wooden starting at defensive tackle is not something that has been discussed anywhere until today. Kevin Steele spoke highly of Wooden last week in his press conference, but the redshirt freshman who signed as a defensive end last year earning the tackle spot next to Tyrone Truesdell was still pretty shocking.

Another unexpected outcome is that four true freshmen are listed on the defensive line depth chart, including Jeremiah Wright, who signed as an offensive lineman in December. Seeing Zykevious Walker listed at defensive tackle ahead of the two junior college defensive linemen that Rodney Garner signed in January may also catch fans off guard.

Coach Garner and coach Steele have a proven track record of getting defensive linemen ready to play in the SEC, but it may just be that the athletes getting the most opportunities in the trenches this year are a little more green than we are used to seeing.

Bonus takeaway

How about Shaun Shivers? Listed at only 5-7 and 179 lbs, Shivers earned the starting spot at tailback and was named one of the team captains. I am a little bit skeptical that Shivers will be an every-down back, but what an accomplishment for a guy who has been doubted because of his size throughout his entire career.

See the whole depth chart:

Twitter/ @byNathanKing

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

35 mins ago

Alabama’s May unemployment rate drops to 3.4% — Post-pandemic rate at lows; Record high wages

Alabama’s post-COVID pandemic economic recovery seems to be humming along based on data released Friday by the Alabama Department of Labor.

According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington revealed Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted May unemployment rate is 3.4%, down from April’s rate of 3.6%.

The 3.4% rate tops the May 2020 number of 7.9%.

“May’s rate represents 75,458 unemployed persons, compared to 79,319 in April and 174,680 in May 2020,” the release said. “May’s unemployed count is the lowest in 2021.”

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(ADOL)

“Our record-breaking streak is continuing in May, and we hope that it continues throughout the rest of the year,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in the statement. “Yet again, we’ve dropped our unemployment rate and each month we are getting closer and closer to our pre-pandemic record low unemployment rate of 2.6%. Our economy is adding jobs, and earlier barriers to joining the workforce have been significantly reduced. In fact, there are more job postings than there are people counted as unemployed! Alabama is, once again, open for business.”

Data showed that wage and salary employment grew last month by 4,700.

“Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,000), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,500), and the education and health services sector (+1,200), among others. Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 123,000, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (+37,100), the professional and business services sector (+23,000), and the manufacturing sector (+22,900), among others,” the release said.

Average weekly earnings for the private sector rose to a new record high of $974.12, up $66.91 over the year, according to the Department of Labor.

“As we continue to see improvement in nearly all sectors of the economy, we’re also seeing record high wages in Alabama,” Washington added. “Once again, our average weekly wages are at new record high, representing an almost $67 per week over-the-year increase. Both the leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors are showing record high wages as well, with significant yearly increases. The economy is responding as we expected to labor force fluctuations brought about by the pandemic.”

Broken down by county, Shelby County led the way with a rate of 1.8%, followed by Blount, Marshall, Franklin and DeKalb Counties.

Wilcox County topped the highest in the state with an unemployment rate of 8.8%.

When broken down by municipalities, Alabaster had the lowest rate at 1.7%. Selma had the state’s highest, coming in at 7.0%, followed by Prichard at 6.5% and Bessemer at 5.2%.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

1 hour ago

Shelby warns Biden on defense cuts — ‘Military investments in China and Russia … outpace U.S. investment’

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) fired his own warning shots over what he views as an inadequate defense budget proposal from President Joe Biden.

During a full Senate Committee on Appropriations review of Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense budget request, Shelby expressed his concern that the administration’s defense spending plan placed the nation at a disadvantage compared to its adversaries.

“The National Defense Strategy provides a road map for what the Department of Defense needs – at a minimum – to meet the challenges posed by a re-emergence of long-term strategic competition with China and Russia,” explained Shelby. “Anything less jeopardizes readiness, the recapitalization of capital assets, and necessary investments in new and emerging technologies.”

Shelby, who currently serves as vice chairman of the powerful Senate committee, believes that not meeting current national defense demands sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.

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“This year, the budget proposal signals to the world that this administration is not committed to investing in readiness, training, state of the art equipment, and technological overmatch,” Shelby stated. “With military investments in China and Russia continuing to outpace U.S. investments, I find it hard to believe that the requirements outlined by General Dunford just four years ago are no longer instructive.”

This critical assessment from Alabama’s senior senator comes less than a month after the highest-ranking U.S. military officer described the nation’s relations with China and Russia as “fraying.”

In an address to graduates of the United States Air Force Academy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, “Right now we are in a great power competition with China and Russia. And we need to keep it at competition and avoid great power conflict.”

Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

Shelby addressed both officials in his remarks, stating, “The world is a complex and dangerous place and I know that you both understand the magnitude of the challenges we face from our near peer adversaries who seek to undermine the United States’ position as a world leader and dominant military power. China and Russia are formidable adversaries and China, as you have acknowledged Secretary Austin, is proving to be a true pacing threat. China seeks hegemony – militarily, technologically, economically, and geopolitically – and is making unprecedented investments to see that to fruition.”

“Meanwhile, Russia is nearing the end of a massive military modernization program that saw its defense spending increase 30 percent in real dollars over the last 10 years,” he added.

Shelby concluded that he could not support an effective cut in defense spending in 2022.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl urges Biden to undergo tests for ‘mental impairment’

U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) joined 13 of his congressional colleagues in urging President Joe Biden to undergo an examination to determine his mental fitness to serve.

The group cited a string of embarrassing verbal gaffes by the president as the basis for their request.

In a letter sent to Biden on Thursday, the Republican members of Congress explained, “We write to you today to express concern with your current cognitive state. We believe that, regardless of gender, age, or political party, all Presidents should follow the precedent set by former President Donald Trump to document and demonstrate sound mental abilities.”

They continued, “Unfortunately, your mental decline and forgetfulness have become more apparent over the past 18 months. In March, you forgot the name of the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Secretary, though you had said ‘Secretary Austin’ just a few minutes prior.”

In addition, the letter cites Biden’s telling of an Amtrak story with an inexplicable timeline, forgetting the first line of the Declaration of Independence and obvious disorientation during a visit to Texas as examples for why they believe Biden is in need of cognitive testing.

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The list of gaffes attributable to his mental acuity seems to be piling up for the 46th president.

During the G7 Summit in England recently, he asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to introduce the South African president.

RELATED: Biden lashes out at media member and Alabama native Kaitlan Collins over Putin — ‘You’re in the wrong business’

Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce has questioned whether Biden’s cognitive state is a national security liability.

Biden has received criticism in the early stages of his administration for calling on only a predetermined list of reporters during press conferences. The most recent instance of this occurred while Biden was in Geneva, Switzerland, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Carl and the other letter signers pushed for transparency with any medical assessments being made, as well.

“We encourage you to follow the example set by President Trump by undergoing a cognitive test as soon as possible and immediately making the results available for the American people,” they concluded.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

2 hours ago

7 Things: Obamacare is here to stay, Juneteenth made a holiday, Alabama wants prison lawsuit narrowed and more …

7. Bringing the least interesting person from the Biden/Harris team will get people vaccinated

  • In an effort to encourage more people in Alabama to take the coronavirus vaccine, second gentleman Doug Emhoff paid a visit to Birmingham at a coronavirus vaccination site.
  • During his visit, Emhoff said for Alabama to reach a vaccination rate of 70%, which is President Joe Biden’s national goal by July 4, “we have work to do.” Currently, almost 49% of adults in Alabama have been vaccinated; nationally, 65% of adults have been vaccinated.

6. Religious foster agency can continue to exclude same-sex couples

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  • In a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Catholic Social Services could continue participating in the Philadelphia foster care program, despite them not allowing same-sex couples to foster through their program.
  • The main claim is that excluding the Catholic organization was a violation of First Amendment rights, but the city argued that the organization “lacks a constitutional right to demand that DHS offer it a contract that omits the same nondiscrimination requirement every other FFCA must follow when performing services for the City.”

5. Mo Brooks welcomes media attacks

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has already received attacks in the U.S. Senate race from fellow candidates and media outlets, but Brooks isn’t bothered by the attacks. Instead, he said that the attacks are “one of the best endorsements a Republican candidate can get.”
  • Brooks was specifically referring to attacks from AL.com and the Alabama Reporter. Brooks added that fellow candidate former Business Council of Alabama president Katie Britt is engaging in “fifth-grade tactics where you just start throwing names at other people, and when you do that, you’ve already lost the argument.” He went on to add that Britt “is a registered lobbyist … for the Business Council of Alabama whose number one agenda item has been to import cheap foreign labor.”

4. Air Force continues support of moving U.S. Space Command, another objection dismissed

  • Again, acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth has said that the decision to move the U.S. Space Command Headquarters from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama, was not a political decision but rather the decision “was the result of our strategic basing process.”
  • Roth was also very open about providing documents on how the decision was made. He also mentioned that they’re currently in the “environmental analysis” portion of the relocation process. When the question of the cost of a new building came up, Roth said, “We were going to have to build a building whether it was in Colorado Springs or whether it was in Huntsville.” He mentioned the much lower cost of building in Huntsville.

3. More prisons need to be built, but Alabama wants part of DOJ lawsuit dismissed

  • Lawyers for the Alabama Department of Corrections have asked that the portion of the Department of Justice lawsuit against the state prisons specifically claiming shortage of correctional officers and unsafe and unsanitary conditions be dismissed.
  • The Department of Corrections is already under orders from a federal court decision to increase the number of correctional officers at facilities, and lawyers have argued that the allegations about unsafe conditions are too vague and aren’t concerning a majority of the prisons.

2. Juneteenth is a state and federal holiday now

  • Just after it was confirmed as a federal holiday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that she made Juneteenth a state holiday for Alabama. This will allow most state employees to have the day off on Friday, except where it’s essential.
  • Juneteenth is held on June 19 to celebrate the day in 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, were freed. Ivey intends to have the legislature consider making Juneteenth a state holiday, but she could also declare the day a holiday in future years, as well.

1. Supreme Court upholds Obamacare

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the decision that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is constitutional, but some Republican lawmakers are now arguing that the court ignored some of the main arguments over the constitutionality. The court’s decision was 7-2.
  • Eighteen states were involved in the case against the Affordable Care Act, including Texas. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “[T]he individual mandate – was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional. Yet, seven justices decided to avoid the question of the constitutionality by limiting its decision to a ruling on standing.”

3 hours ago

ALGOP chair John Wahl: AEA resurgence ‘a concern’; Reminds GOP candidates ‘not a good idea’ accept their campaign contributions

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Alabama Education Association (AEA) seemingly flexed its muscle at the end of the 2021 legislative session by successfully pushing through a two-year delay to the Literacy Act, which mandates children be able to read at a third grade level before proceeding to the fourth grade.

Gov. Kay Ivey vetoed the delay, but it left political watchers wondering if this was just the beginning of the AEA’s return to the forefront of Alabama politics.

During an appearance on FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Thursday, Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl said it was indeed a concern for the party.

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“[I]t’s funny you bring that up because at one point in the past, there was actually a resolution passed by the state party, I believe, that was saying Republican candidates should not take money from the AEA because of their influence and the concern they would have over direct policy,” he stated. “So, of course, that’s a concern. That type of influence from anybody pushing to regulate themselves is never — you don’t want a group regulating themselves. That’s not good for policy.”

While there was a resolution in place that pertained to AEA campaign contributions to Republican candidates, Wahl said it was not an outright ban but a “strong recommendation” not to accept their money.

“I need to go back and look at the resolution in-depth,” Wahl said. “But I believe it was a resolution, so it’s not a direct ban. There’s no teeth to it. But it was a very strong recommendation to candidates — that it is not a good idea to take that money.”

“[T]here were jokes about how the AEA controlled the state and had a vast amount of control over policy and what would happen with the Governor’s office, the state legislature,” he explained. “So much of that has gotten better since Republicans have taken control. But you’re right — we’re seeing a resurgence, at least of their involvement. Hopefully not their influence.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.