We’re now just 15 short days away from Auburn’s first football game of 2019 vs. Oregon in Jerry’s World and yet Auburn head football coach, Gus Malzahn, still hasn’t found the ‘perfect’ starting quarterback. Throughout the offseason, this battle has been one of, if not the most intriguing in the country. This quarterback battle features two high-profile quarterbacks in redshirt-freshman, Joey Gatewood, and true-freshman, Bo Nix, who was a 5-star dual-threat quarterback recruit upon signing with the Tigers and departing from the two-time defending state champion, Pinson Valley High School in December of 2018. Nix has won the last two state titles under his dad, former Auburn Tiger quarterback, Patrick Nix, while leading the Pinson Valley Indians, the first in 2017 vs. Wetumpka at Bryant-Denny Stadium and the second in 2018 vs. Saraland at Nix’s then-future home, Jordan-Hare Stadium. This race has gone back and forth constantly over the offseason, if I was Malzahn, I personally, would use both of them in a platoon, like Nick Saban used Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa in 2018. Who wins it? Will we have an answer soon? The world may never know.
Just after mid-day on Monday, the news broke around the State of Alabama that Andy Burcham, the longtime color analyst for the late Rod Bramblett had been named the new ‘Voice of the Auburn Tigers’. While I’m sure that this move had to be a tough one on Burcham, it just seems fitting. As Rod and Andy had just celebrated 25 years of broadcasting Auburn Baseball games alongside each other a few weeks before Rod and Paula Bramblett’s untimely and sudden death. Andy has been in the broadcasting industry since 1988. The 2019-2020 season will mark Burcham’s 32nd year in the industry. Personally, I don’t think I could’ve taken the job under these circumstances, but somebody has to do it and I know without a doubt, that Rod is smiling down from heaven knowing that his longtime friend and colleague, Andy Burcham, has been selected to assume the role that Bramblett held for so many years. While you will never be able to replace the silky, southern voice of Rod Bramblett, now is the time for Andy Burcham to cement his legacy alongside Bramblett and Jim Fyffe as ‘The Voice of the Auburn Tigers’ and Rod wouldn’t have it any other way. In a sense, Rod is simply passing the headset to his right-hand man, Andy Burcham.
Austin Riley has been in the major leagues just over a week, eight days to be exact, but he’s playing like he’s been in “The Peach State” all year long. Riley is also making his presence felt not only on the field but also in the clubhouse. To be honest with you, he reminds me a lot of a switch-hitter from DeLand, Florida, Atlanta Braves legend and 2018 National Baseball Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones. Over Austin Riley’s first eight days in the Atlanta clubhouse, he’s had 30 at-bats and has hit to the tune of a .367 average with 4 home runs, 9 RBI, a .406 on-base percentage and a 1.206 OPS. It’s looking like he wants to stay right where he is with Atlanta. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this kid will be special just give him time although he is already proving that he is the spark the Braves needed in the lineup. He’s got a long way to go but he’s proving his worth so far. I just can’t get enough of this kid.
If you had told me back in 2016, when Dansby Swanson, known for his time playing shortstop at Vanderbilt University, joined the Braves after being drafted as the number 1 overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, I would’ve called you insane. As he had career lows in home runs with three and RBI with 17. But his numbers have improved exponentially since his rookie 2016 season. In 2017, he finished with a .232 average, 6 home runs and 51 RBI. In my opinion, 2017 was his breakout season in Atlanta but I’m no expert so we’ll see what the future holds. In 2018, his third season in Atlanta, he wrapped the season up with a .238 average, 14 home runs and 59 RBI on his way to helping the Braves win the 2018 National League East title. So far in 2019, Dansby has a .346 average, 3 home runs and 9 RBI. It’s early in the season but that doesn’t change the fact that he leads the team in home runs and delivered when his team needed him in a series clinching 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. Look for these numbers to rise if he can stay healthy. He’s just heating up. After all, he did work with Chipper Jones on his plate approach this past offseason. .