Another Saturday, another Auburn blowout. Wow, what a change a year makes. This time last year we were complaining about Franklin, complaining about Todd, complaining about Tuberville, and not enjoying college football at Auburn for the first time in years. Now we're an undefeated offensive powerhouse, looking like one of the better teams in the country, and looking forward to Saturdays again. I know most are wanting me to get to what I said in the headline, but don't worry, it's coming. First let's dissect the game.
Offense: Fantastic. Simply fantastic. I know it was against Ball State, and I know that Auburn had them physically outmatched at pretty much every position, but that was the case in quite a few games last year, and the results were very different. Chris Todd has his arm back. Terrell Zachary and Darvin Adams are on their way to becoming superstars. Ontarrio Mccalebb and Ben Tate are pounding the ball with the best of them. I was a bit dissapointed in Auburn's running game early, but it's not exactly easy to run when the other team is putting 8 people in the box. But, for the second week in a row, Chris Todd made them pay, and the defense's gameplan quickly broke down when they couldn't stop Auburn's passing game. They started dropping back into coverage, and Tate, Mario Fannin, and Eric Smith made them pay. Ball State had no answer after that, nor has anyone else this year. From what I'm hearing, Mccalebb will be fine, he was basically kept out of a blowout game as a precaution.
Defense: MUCH improved. I can't agree with Acid Reign on the front page. The tackling, while not great, was a lot better than last week. Of course, they weren't trying to tackle Noel Devine and Jarrett Brown this week, but that is irrelevant. Most of the points scored by Ball State can be credited to Auburn's poor special teams play, which will be addressed shortly. Auburn's defense stopped the run, played soft on the short passing game, and made some great 1 on 1 open field tackles. The defense is still not as good as I'd like to see it, but it seems to get a little bit better every week, and at this point, that is the best that you can hope for. As much as I hate to say it, it seems they quit a little bit towards the end of the game, and gave Ball State a couple of easy scores that they shouldn't have. Kudos to Ted Roof for getting in their faces, even in the middle of a blowout, and challenging them to make plays. He's smart enough to know that the games aren't going to be this easy anymore, and he wants them ready for SEC play. I'd still like to see them get a bit more aggressive in coverage. Let's face it: At Auburn, we're not used to an average defense; we're used to a GREAT defense. We're used to the likes of Dontarrius Thomas, Takeo Spikes, Karlos Dansby, Carlos Rogers, David Irons and such. This defense, to me, seems very average. Not bad, but not good.
Special Teams: Atrocious. Absolutely horrible. We had an improvement in net punting this week but that was about it. Two big returns negated by penalties. Two fumbled punts. A botched fake punt. Poor coverage on opposing kicks. Wes Byrum is the one bright spot on special teams. If we needed a kick to win a game, I'd feel pretty darn good with Byrum's leg behind the ball. But other than that, our special teams play has been HORRIBLE, and needs to be worked on the most.
Overall: We're strong. I honestly believe we are a top 25 team right now. We've won an SEC game, dominated 2 weaker opponents, and beat a darn good West Virginia team. On top of that, the Mississippi State win is looking better and better. MSU should have beat LSU yesterday, and Dan Mullin is clearly changing the culture over in Starkville. I think before Mullin is gone, they will return to the top 15 or so as they did in the Jackie Sherrill days. MSU isn't a pushover anymore, and will only get better. The fact that Auburn beat them pretty handily says a lot. Honestly though, the Tennessee game is going to be a BIG test for one reason and one reason only: MATCHUPS. Monte Kiffin is the best defensive coordinator in the SEC, maybe in the country. This guy can flat out coach defense. Tennessee held Florida to 23 points. They're only giving up 18 points a game. Auburn leads the nation in total offense, and is 2nd in the nation behind Florida in scoring offense. What did your first pee-wee football coach tell you years and years ago? GOOD DEFENSE BEATS GOOD OFFENSE. Next week will be the first real test of Auburn and Gus Malzahn's high-powered statistical monster. Will they be able to crack Tennessee and Monte Kiffin? Will Auburn's defense be able to stop the new SEC rushing leader (as of this week) in Monterio Hardesty? We'll find out in 6 short days.
Final Thoughts: Now we're getting to the title of this blog. Todd for Heisman you say? Before you ask me what I've been snorting let me state my case; and I'd like to first point out that last year, and even in the beginning of this year I was one of the biggest Chris Todd haters in the Auburn nation. Right now, the prime Heisman candidates are Tim Tebow, Colt Mccoy, Dez Bryant, and Jahvid Best. Sam Bradford is out of the running after Oklahoma losing and him getting hurt. Jahvid Best just turned in a 55 yard performance in a 42 to 3 shelacking Cal took at the hands of Oregon. Dez Bryant isn't even sniffing the national lead in receiving, is only 6th in his own conference, and his team has a loss to Houston on his record. That leaves Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow, the two other QB's. Now Chris Todd's resume: 5th in the country is passing yards. 6th in the country in QB rating. 2nd in the country in touchdown passes. 1 interception. Undefeated team. He leads the #1 offense in the country. And most importantly, he has STEPPED UP and led his team to wins when the game has been squarely on his shoulders. Tim Tebow is behind Todd in almost every statistical category except for rushing yards and TD's. You could make the argument that Chris Todd hasn't really played anybody yet but neither has Tebow. Neither has McCoy. On top of that, McCoy can't touch Todd statistically with his 5 interceptions thrown with only 9 touchdown passes.
Now, I know what you're thinking, no way in hell that Chris Todd wins the Heisman. You're right, I don't think there's a chance either. The Heisman is a popularity contest, nothing more. I stopped putting any stake in it the year Charles Woodson was chosen over a clearly superior Peyton Manning. That pretty much killed the Heisman for me. However, the point I'm trying to make is that if Auburn keeps winning, and if Todd keeps putting up these numbers, he deserves to be in the conversation. Right now, if you dissect it, his resume is as good as anybody's early on. There's a lot of football yet to be played, and I honestly doubt this will ever go anywhere but this blog, but Todd deserves to be mentioned if nothing else. So far, he's earned it. I'm interested to see how much more he'll make his case as the year goes on.
War Eagle everyone!! It's shaping up to be a great year! The more I see of Auburn, the more I think we are capable of pulling off a big win or 2! The future looks nothing but bright! I'm sure everyone is grateful to coach Chizik and the staff for making the Auburn nation look forward to Saturdays again!!