While everyone is jumping back on the Auburn Bandwagon, I would like to say that you should have never gotten off. I am sure that if you are reading this now, you have been with us all season. The writers here have tried to give the facts where they are necessary and opinions whether they are necessary or not. My posts seem to be more on the opinion side, and I leave the facts to the stat man that is Acid Reign.
My opinion this week revolves around what I saw on Halloween. I saw a team that came out inspired. I saw a team that knew they were going to be in for a fight and were willing to go 12 rounds if need be. Most importantly, I saw a team that was prepared. While Coach Gene Chizik has done many great things for our Auburn Tigers this season, he has been criticized for not having our team prepared. I think that Arkansas and Kentucky are prime examples of this. Well, we can not add the Ole Miss game to that list.
Let’s start with the defense; they were as prepared as I have seen them this season. Ted Roof knew that Dexter McCluster was going to be 75-80 percent of the offense for the Rebels and he drew up a pretty good scheme to slow it down. You cannot stop McCluster, he is that good. He can do almost anything on the football field. Roof and the boys did a good job of containing him late in the game. Some of that could be due to a bit of an injury, but the defense played well against him.
Roof and Tracy Rocker also knew that if the Tigers could get pressure on Jevan Snead, he would make some mistakes. The defensive line got more pressure on an opposing QB then we have seen this season. My one issue with the D line is that the ends still lose containment. Case in point is the 20 yard scramble by Snead on a 3rd and 19.
The secondary stepped up big in this game as well. Walter McFadden made a great play on the interception. How he knew that it was tipped up to him I have no idea. During the play I was sure it was short hopped. Good job also must go to the official for not blowing the whistle and stopping play. Darren Bates also played well, he did have so mistakes but he is growing into a solid player.
The only real complaint I have is that Auburn could have turned the Rebels over at least 4 more times. The opening kickoff fumble would have been huge, as well as three sure interceptions were dropped. Auburn cannot let those opportunities slip away and beat a better team.
On the offensive side of the ball, I still have to give all the credit to Ben Tate. That man is playing is butt off. Too bad Auburn has the three game losing streak or he could be in the post season award discussion. He is playing like a man possessed. He runs hard on every play. One particular one he was about to break free from the pile for a long run, but the refs blow the play dead. Gus Malzahn also used Mario Fannin a bit more than we have seen in the past few games. I like to see that. Mario can be a game changer. He just needs to hold onto the ball a bit better. Remember he lost that fumble out of bounds. Maybe Gus heard me say that they needed to throw to Tommy Trott and Kodi Burns some, because it happened. Kodi made a great catch on a 3rd down and Tommy had a TD. Trott also had that big drop, but we can forgive him this time.
Rating Chris Todd in this game is hard for me. He did some very good things. He did seem to have more control over his passes, but the deep ball is still shaky. Were it not for two spectacular catches by Terrell Zachery, Todd’s numbers would not have looked so good. Darvin Adams also stepped back up and made a couple of plays. Chris made a couple of bad decisions; the biggest one was the sack where he kind of tossed the ball away like a backhanded pass. At least that is the way it looked in replay. Live it looked like a straight fumble, but in slow motion it was some sort of terrible attempt at a pass. I also think that he continues to hold on to the ball too long. He needs to speed up the clock in his head a bit. Overall he managed the game well, and a win is a win.
Lastly, my "What the hell" play call. Was it just me or did Gus seem to be out thinking himself a couple of times. In the third quarter after Ole Miss had cut into the lead, Auburn had a 3rd and 5 near midfield. The Tigers lined up in the wildcat with Kodi… Ole Miss stacked 9 (yes 9) in the box, and Kodi ran the keeper up the middle for no gain. So what does Gus do… we go for it on 4th and 5. On the next play Todd throws deep and over the head of Adams and turns it over on downs. My problem was not going for it on 4th. My issue was the play calling in that situation. On third down why not line up as normal and either run Tate or hit Fannin in the flats. If you don’t make it, you are already prepared to go for it on fourth anyways and at least you gave yourself a shot a gaining some yardage. It just seemed like a waste to me… but I am not a coach and they are all smarter than me. War Eagle guys… hopefully they will get some rest this weekend against Furman. With Georgia and Alabama looming we need everyone healthy.
War Damn Eagle