Well I finally made it to Jordan Hare with my sons for their 1st regualr season game on the Plains, and the Tigers delivered a very rewarding game day experience that will likely hook them for life. Many of you may not have been able to see this game, since it was on the U, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty early, but our Tigers put together the type of performance that they should have against an inferior Ole Miss squad.Make no mistake, Ole Miss has some very talented players in Mackey, Bolden, Scott and Brassel and a big physical offensive line. But Ole Miss did exactly what a 2-5 team with great talent does....play undisciplined, and make a lot of mental mistakes. We played tit for tat on turnovers early to keep Ole Miss in the game but Moseley, Dyer and the Auburn Offense showed they were the much better team by pulling away in the second half.
The defense, and D Line especially, looked like they had were just a week away from the super physical game they played last week against LSU...they were slow and had a hard time getting off blocks. The gains we looked to have made the past few weeks in rush defense disappeared as Bolden, Scott, and Mackey gashed them early and often, amassing over 170 yards at the half, all while putting very little pressure on Mackey, the few times he threw the ball. YIKES!! Talk about your reply fails! Tackling was horrendous early on, especaiily at the second level and in the secondary as we reverted to the bad habits of lunging at tackles and trying to use shoulders to knock Bolden and Scott down, with little success. Its no use in singling anyone out as everyone was guilty at some point. Although we jumped out to a 14-0 lead early on; the D struggled to keep the lead and we entered the half tied. The lone bright spot in the 1st half was the play of ELtoro Freeman, who was like a guided missile, making several plays in the open field and being the only player to pressure Mackey. I really hope this is the beginning of a big finish for the Senior, because he was a disruptive force and played his finest game as a Tiger, IMO.
The D rebounded in the second half to earn a passing grade as the offense came out and recaptured the lead, to put Ole Miss in the position of having to get away from their ground game. With Ole Miss relegated to playing catch up, Mackey was unable to generate a consistent threat through the air as our DB's played a very solid game including an INT on a poor decision by Mackey to throw into double coverage deep down field. Most of Mackey's 162 passing yards came with the game out of reach and the Tigers playing prevent. Prior to that, Ole Miss receivers had a hard time finding many holes in the Tiger secondary. When Mackey did go to the air, most of his passes were defended well. There was no repeat of last week with receivers sneaking behind the coverage for big plays, Thorpe, Davis and Bell, did an excellent job of keeping receivers in front of them and contesting most attempts. Erique Florence pulled off one of the best plays of the night knocking away a deep Mackey attempt, the one time Mackey got a receiver in single coverage deep.
The big news of the night though was the return of Auburn's offense. After spending the last several weeks on the side of a milk carton, the Moseley led Auburn offense was dominant again. Dyer had another great game, gashing the Bear D for 177 tough running yards. Onterrio McCalebb added another 61 and Tre Mason, showed why he'll be a great replacement for Dyer, with some nice late game runs. Even though Ole Miss was playing the run all night, the offensive line had their way for the most part and consistently opened up good lanes for Dyer and OMac all night, especially in the critical second half. Chad Slade, who couldn't make it to the edge as a blocker against LSU, found Ole Miss not quite as quick and opened up some big holes in the running attack and sprung Dyer on his biggest run of the night. As close as the games was in the 1st half, it was equally uncompetitive in the second half.
The big reason? Moseley and the return of Emory Blake. Dyer and OMac were the work horses last night but what made the Auburn offense dangerous was Moseley and his efficient 12-15 passing attack finding ways to make Ole Miss pay for loading the box. Blake provided the big plays we have been missing, finding ways to get open and pick up big 3rd downs in the 1st half and huge go ahead touchdown early in the third qtr. But Moseley showed great touch on the ball, finding Carr in stride on a huge 45 yard TD early in the game, Blake wide open in the end zone and Lutzenkirchen twice in the flat to finsih drives in the red zone. Moseley showed what was lacking from Trotter in the past several games, finding the open man, not forcing passes and putting the ball where it needs to be for the receivers to catch it. Having the passing game as a viable option makes the rushing attack that much more dangerous, and it was clear we sucked the fight out of Ole Miss in the second half.
As we head into a much needed bye week, Auburn finds itself going in the right direction and the most critical time. Moseley looks to be the answer at QB. Dyer, OMac, Blake and Lutzie look healthy and the Defense is finding a way to keep us in the game. We'll need to tighten things up agains UGA and Bama for sure, but both play a style of offense that plays to our strengths. We tend to have a harder time defending against teams with Dual threat QBs and both UGA and Bama run a more traditional pro-style offense, running at you with one back instead of multiple options in the backfield. Having our talented, young secondary able to concentrate on primarily defending the pass will put the defense in much better position scheme wise and limit possibilities for mistakes in coverage communication. It will allow Roof/Chizik to dial up a few more blitzes and get some pressure on Murray and McCarron. Both games will be test us and we will certainly be overmatched by Bama, but if we can limit mistakes and limit the rushing production of Crowell and Richardson we should be able to take at least one of the two games. While not exactly where we want to be going into Amen Corner, having played 26 freshman this year, we are in position to finish with a very successful season if we can build on this game and put what we learned into use. UGA is definitely beatable and you can throw out the record books in the Iron Bowl. These Tigers are coming together and you have to like what you see.