Vicodin Diaries Volume O

What went wrong in 2011?

There were many things that happened with the Auburn football team in 2011. I know that everybody has their take on what happened. I too would like to add what I really think happened to this season.

How do several of us feel this was an unsuccessful season when we predicted the exact record Auburn had? I, for one, picked Auburn to go 7-5 this year. Yet, how do I feel so disappointed when apparently I knew exactly what to expect?

I’m going to say exactly what you expect. Gene Chizik and Ted Roof are to blame for everything! They were terrible! Gus Malzahn fell in line and he was just as awful! This is a terrible coaching staff! Everybody should be fired and nothing but dark days await us that cheer for Auburn University’s football team. I cry every day now that Keith Marshall is going to Georgia and DGB is headed to Arkansas I’m ready to just end it all!

So, you’re getting a good picture of where I’m going this right? Obviously, I’m about to blame the coaches, and especially Gene Chizik for everything. It’s his fault he just got lucky with Cam I tell you! He caught lightning in a bottle with Newton and Fairley but now Auburn is doomed under Gene Chizik!

Believe this or not, I don’t believe it’s like that for one second. I’m not even going to slam Ted Roof and Gus Malzahn. To me, it’s been done enough already and it’s been dissected until there’s nothing left but a Cadaver reject tossed out from Transylvania’s school of medicine and fine arts.

I will take an attempt to review the season from the angle of the head coach. Now, “there is no question” that Gene does care deeply for Auburn, its fans and alumni, and his players.

I may be giving him too much credit but I think he’s a hell of a coach. At least, I certainly hope is a great coach. Anyway, I think that everybody he went ahead and played were kids he felt would become stronger for it. The people he redshirted he thought needed the time to mature a year.

I am not saying that Gene meant to just throw this season away; he is too much of a competitor to do that. But, he knew he was not going to be as successful as he could have been by not playing all of the incoming freshmen he had. I don’t think it’s a matter of seniority with him.

I do know that Gene goes directly to his kids when they’re hurt. Damn, we’ve all seen enough of our boys go down to some gut wrenching injuries to know he’s right there at their side immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s a starter or somebody that barely ever plays, he seems to teleport right at their side and you can see the genuine concern for the kid.

He refers to them by their first name. He checks up on them even after they’ve got a season ending injury. He visits with them outside of football. He makes sure that the players also have visits with the assistants so that they grow as a team and moreover as a family.

It’s not a business to him. He’s raising boys to become grown men and he loves these kids. But, he won’t tolerate crap either. You need look no further than one All American Mike Dyer.

I’m not going to let Gene off the hook completely. It is still puzzling to me, though, that Auburn showed no improvement this season. I said a while back that I think this Auburn team really did forget how to lose. They didn’t remember how to pick yourself back up once you wound up on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

Once they lost that first game against Clemson, reality set in that 2010 was over. They didn’t know how to play without the aura of invincibility. As the season went on, they fell apart from that incredible confidence and we really saw a team against Alabama and Georgia that was defeated before it stepped on the field. The loss to LSU also opened up the flood gates of self pity and adversity that these kids had never faced before this season.

When they fell apart mentally, so did their technique. It was that old adage that Chizik had lost his team. I do think that much really did happen. He didn’t lose their love for him as a coach. I am saying he lost his team’s confidence that they could beat the really good teams.

Even after12 games, the guys looked like they regressed in their technique and skill level. I doubt many here can truly say they saw big strides of improvement. Mentally, the kids looked as though they thought their efforts were pointless.

The mental psyche of a young team ultimately does fall into the responsibility of the head coach. It is his job to make those kids believe in themselves and get every ounce of effort they can offer. It is my belief that many of those kids simply gave up.

Did they completely stop giving effort? No they didn’t. They kept pushing as long as they were not down by double digits. Yet, when they played the really good teams they expected to lose. When a good team would execute a big play you could see our boys thinking, “Here we go again.”

I personally believe they were defeated on that field the same way Trotter was defeated after Clemson. It’s amazing to me how different the entire team became once Trotter threw that interception in the fourth quarter against Dabbo’s Dummies.

From there, the team went on a steady spiral downward. I do think Trotter was a leader of this team-probably its main leader. He may have been the ONLY team leader. It was then up to Chizik to pick the team up.

To me, Chizik’s greatest strength is his true love for all things Auburn. Following that, he’s a great motivator when his team has confidence and his team has leaders on the field. He is great at generating enthusiasm during practice and the off season and he has a stern mentality that doesn’t break easily. In addition, I’d say that his pregame and halftime speeches are some of the best I’ve ever seen honestly.

2011 was a season where we witnessed more of Chizik’s weaknesses than we ever had in 2009 and 2010. He was never able to right the ship once the he hit that first Clemson rock. He could not get his players to believe in themselves. Bottom line, he didn’t think they would win and we and the players could see it.

If a head coach doesn’t believe he’s going to win, why would his players? That didn’t mean he cared any less or tried any less, but he just couldn’t get them to be confident. He couldn’t give them something he didn’t have either.

It is my contention that his biggest weakness is his inability to get his team to believe after they’ve been beaten down. He just couldn’t get his boys to believe in themselves or have fun. He wasn’t having fun either. If you run a program with love and on the idea of having fun, you will not be successful overall once you stop having fun.

His mentality is not broken easily, but he never seemed comfortable this year. That mentality stuck with him all season and was not broken easily either. He was happy in 2009 and 2010. What we saw of Gene Chizik in 2011 was not a happy man. He never seemed relaxed and he never acted as if he was simply just having fun.

I’m not sure that the difference between 2010 and 2011 bothered anybody more than it did Gene Chizik. If a team imitates their coach, Auburn seemed to certainly resemble Gene Chizik. They wouldn’t give up and they gave it their all, but they never once thought they would win against the good teams after Clemson.

By the final parts of the Iron Bowl, you had to endure our team acting just like their coach. Chizik wanted this season to be over and so did the players. 2012 will be much better, I have no doubt. But, I think 2011 showed some of the reasons why Chizik was not successful at Iowa State. It makes more sense now.

We're all just trying to have a good time here. Don't be a jerk, and we won't have a problem with you. War Eagle!

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