Undercover Barner: 'Uh, he got hurt'

My child, with legs that just won't quit. - Wesley Hitt

This week's Undercover Barner is really more of a disjointed stream of observations, due mostly to the fact that finals are approaching and I can't brain anymore.

I can’t complain but sometimes I still do /

Life's been good to me so far

How far has this Auburn team come that we are complaining about a 35-17 road win in the SEC West? Sure, aside from a few glaring errors, there was plenty that went right. But I came away from that game a little disappointed. I wanted complete domination, and Auburn came up a little short. It took him just over two months, but Gus has us expecting excellence again. I ain’t mad.

Sorry for the abbreviated nature* of this one, but here are a few scattered thoughts from the Arkansas game and beyond:

  • Can we all just agree that Bert is the worst? There are few things I’ve ever experienced that were more satisfying than Auburn’s normal American goal-line stand. I want to watch it on an endless loop.
  • The really great thing about this past Saturday’s game, aside from the fact that Auburn passed the ball fewer than 10 times and basically ran the same four plays over and over on its way to an 18-point victory, was the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the Arkansas fans over #SWAININGGATE**. I don’t condone it (see below), but if you’ll kindly remember, they still scored and it made exactly zero difference in the outcome of the game. It was delightful watching them grasp at broken straws.
  • As much as I love this picture of Gus Malzahn, I do not love #SWAININGGATE. Not only did it completely change the narrative of the game, but it made Auburn and Gus look just as catty as Arkansas and Bielema. I’m fairly certain Swain did actually suffer an injury, as Ellis Johnson confirmed that he does have a bruised knee. But the flop was highly suspect, to say the least. We all saw it. I’ve made my feelings on flopping as a momentum-killing tactic no secret (you’re welcome, Twitter), as both Georgia in 2010 and Texas A&M in 2013 have done it to Auburn. No one, not even the mighty ESPN (which tried its best to make this into a 2010-level scandal), can say what actually happened with 100 percent accuracy. Knees are fickle things. But if it was a flop, and if that call came from the sideline, that’s really unfortunate. Auburn can expect its opponents to return the favor with relish.
  • What more can anyone say about Tre Mason? He may be the most underrated running back in the SEC, a league full of beastly running backs. If he decides to stay for his senior season and stays healthy, I don’t think it’s fantasy to say he may have a shot at the Heisman. He should at least be in the conversation. And I'm not just saying that because he's my child.
  • This would have been Michael Dyer’s senior season. I doubt he would have stuck it out anyway, but if things had gone differently***, can you imagine that one-two punch of Dyer and Mason? Ronnie and Caddy. It hurts my heart.
  • I find myself saying, "This kid is going to be special," about almost every young player on the team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
  • In case you were wondering how my Monday went, we got an email from UA Athletics about purchasing SEC Championship Game tickets. In early November. I know those guys are sittin’ pretty right now, but they haven’t actually won the West yet. Unfortunately, I looked at said email during class and did a terrible job hiding my displeasure.

  • The prospect of an early kickoff on the road at a place like Neyland is terrifying. In Gus we trust, but I feel like we’ve been burned too many times to really trust anything involving Auburn and an early kick. Tennessee will be playing to win. I just hope our Tigers are focused and come out swinging. Also, I hope they’re awake.
  • For better or worse, I’ll be wearing LSU colors in the UA student section this week. I wore full Auburn orange in the student section by myself during undergrad, and I don’t want my roommate to have to experience that particular brand of misery alone. I’ll be sure to share any stories/pictures/injuries, but mostly I’m just hoping to make it out alive. Jumping off a cliff, guys.

If you’re making the trip to Knoxville, don’t forget your blue. And while the Vols' orange**** pales in comparison to our lovely shade of burnt orange, mixed with navy blue, it still makes for a pretty sight.

Until next time — War Eagle.

*November means finals lockdown mode. I'm aiming for a more cohesive and thoughtful post next week, though. I'm also hoping to steal time next week to make it to the Georgia game, but that may involve an ill-advised day trip. We'll see.

**Probably my favorite tweet ever. Also, as much as I hate it, it is what it is, so suck it, Bert.

***Story time: Michael Dyer was my original football child. It dates back to the 2009 Under Amour All-America Game, conveniently located and scheduled perfectly with Auburn's bowl game in Tampa. We attended and obviously cheered like crazy for all of Auburn's recruits. I guess I was most excited about this little five-star running back out of Arkansas wearing No. 5 because a little girl turned around and asked me if No. 5 was my son. My heart melted, and I told her he was going to be. Perhaps it's because I loved him the most, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive him, and I know that's not right. I’m honestly grateful for everything he did during his freshman year, but Bo passed the torch to him and he threw it away. I hope he gets his life together, but he’ll never be an Auburn man. It really breaks my heart.

****Let’s be honest — it’s orange Gatorade puke orange. You’re welcome for that visual.

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