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Plainslinks checks out early

It's not often I say this, but: keep talking, Josh.

This is going to be more of a straight list of links than the usual link-plus-commentary, but it’s Friday. I’m sure you understand.

— Not too much out today’s practice reports so far, but you can check out Bitter‘s, Tate‘s, and Goldberg‘s anyways, with Goldberg’s featuring a chemo update from Shon Coleman’s mother. The big news from practice is that a full scrimmage tomorrow that may help whittle down the QB race … or it may not. We’ll see.

It’s pretty clear by now that Mike McNeil isn’t as far along in his injury recovery as Aairon Savage is, but Thigpen’s still confident he’ll be 100 percent by the end of summer. He’d better be; the way Thigpen’s praising Ikeem Means and notably not praising Drw Cole and Mike Slade, we could see a starting walk-on if he’s not.

Chizik expressing happiness with where Gayden and Mosley are in the right tackle battle is a good sign.

— Not there today but on campus earlier this week was ESPN bloggeur Chris Low, who got in worthwhile interviews with Chizik, Malzahn, and Josh Bynes. It’s the Bynes story that’s far and away the most interesting:

“I congratulate them on their national championship,” Auburn senior linebacker Josh Bynes said. “But at the same time, if one play goes differently, we could have won the Iron Bowl. Of course, it didn’t go our way, and they beat us. But we know we’re right there.

“You look at coach (Nick) Saban’s first year at Alabama, and he didn’t win against us, and now all of a sudden, they’ve won two years against us and you hear all sorts of things like they’re going to own Auburn the next couple of years. I’m telling you … that’s not going to be the case.”

Bynes, one of the clear leaders on Auburn’s team, stopped short of making any predictions.

But he did offer this: “We know for a fact that we’re a better team now than we were the year before, and we’re going to go out there and play at a level 20 times higher than we did before, especially defensively.

Confident but not cocky, laying down the facts without resorting to hype (“20 times” excepted) … this is how you talk about the Iron Bowl. Well played, sir.

— Via Track ‘Em comes this completely awesome story of Phil Lutzenkirchen taking his friend and Lassiter High/Auburn teammate Kevin Carroll’s sister, Casey, to her prom. The hook: Casey has Down’s Syndrome. No matter how black and ironic your heat, it’s going to be warmed.

— Huge huge huge series in Tuscaloosa this weekend for the baseball team. Kevin has your preview.

— Tons of good stuff from Bryan Matthews’ blog this week, including the news that Chizik and Co. could get a commitment soon from whip-smart Marietta offensive lineman Thomas O’Reilly. There’s also some discussion of what getting a Gadsden commitment means for Auburn and an interview with Nick Fairley.

— I don’t follow hoops recruiting very closely at all, but if Barbee actually has the ear of a kid with a solid Kentucky offer … holy crap.

— A quick update on the TWER bracket group: it’s going to come down to the Duke-West Virginia game. A Duke win will put “Ike” (who has them going all the way) in the driver’s seat, while a WVU win will all but wrap it up for “Crooked.” If Duke wins the semifinal but loses the title game, all hell breaks loose.

Me? Middle of the pack, but at least the Mrs. WBE’s misguided hometown (sort of) faith in New Mexico to make the Final Four means I’m not second-best in my own home this year. (Like most years.)

Enjoy your weekend.

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