Wednesdays with (Oscar) Whiskey

Mike Zarrilli

This week, Oscar tries to makes sense of the Tigers' season thus far.

Hear ye! Hear ye! We now call to order the weekly Wednesday with Oscar Whiskey, Dean of the Auburn Institute of Exploding Dog Studies and generally nice guy! All Auburn fans are hereby encouraged to attend and all whom by doing so are welcome! Hear ye! Hear ye! Strike up the band! Give ‘em Hell! Glory, glory to Ol' Auburn! And et cetera et cetera!

Okay, enough with that schtick (ahem), hello again, Auburn Tigers fans, it is Wednesday and I am Oscar Whiskey! We are a third of the way through the 2013 season, and as we all know, Auburn picked up its first L in Baton Rouge. No loss is easy to take, especially when your team has to fight the elements, the opposing crowd and an early deficit, but our Tigers fought nonetheless and fought well they did. This most recent matchup between Auburn and LSU really could have gone two ways: 1) a blowout by LSU or 2) a nail biter. Thankfully for those of you with weak cardiac composition the game fell in the middle of those possible, plausible two outcomes. While I and many others on this site do not subscribe to the notion of "moral victory," I can breathe a little easier as there is a noticeable and reassuring change taking place with this team.  [SENTENCE REDACTED DUE TO GROSS USE OF PLATITUDE REGARDING METAPHYSICAL GROWTH IN ASPECTS OF EFFORT, HARD WORK AND TENACITY]. Anyway, let's get started, shall we?

First Trimester Review: Compare and Contrast

One thing I can't help but do is look at a previous year's statistics in order to gauge how a team is doing in its current campaign. A majority of time the only thing this information does is either make me feel better or worse. Four weeks in and Auburn sits at 3-1 with a conference win against Mississippi State. Compare that to last year, when this team was 1-3 with its only win coming from an overtime squeaker against Louisiana-Monroe. There's a good deal to look at, but let's focus on a few items to get a feel for what has changed.

  • After the fourth game of 2012, Kiehl Frazier had thrown the ball 89 times and found an Auburn receiver 47 times for a total of 546 passing yards. He had also by this time thrown two touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
  • One year later, Nick Marshall has completed 60 passes out of 103 attempts for a total of 809 yards. Of those 60 completed passes, four are touchdown passes, and he's thrown four interceptions.
  • In 2012, Auburn's opponents had out-thrown the Tigers, 844 yards to 546 yards, after the game with LSU.
  • In 2013, Auburn's opponents have once again out thrown the Tigers, 1,058 yards to 809 yards.
  • By Week 4 of the 2012 season Auburn had recorded 148 rushing attempts for 612, yards equaling 4.1 yards per attempt for all of three rushing touchdowns. At this point in the season, Auburn's opponents had gained 833 yards on the ground.
  • After Week 4 of 2013, the Tigers have rushed 184 times for 929 yards, which averages 5.1 yards per carry, and they have carried the ball over the goal line eight times. Thus far, the four teams that Auburn has faced have totaled for 700 yards rushing.

A Simple Analysis

The first thing to take away from all of this is that so far, Gus Malzahn has done what he has promised to do, which is simply run more, pass more and score more. In fact, his offense's total yardage of the season is 33 percent higher than last year's team at this point. But as always, reading statistics can be deceiving. While it looks like Auburn is being bombed to smithereens, the passing defense has only given up two passing touchdowns and has four interceptions. However, the rushing defense's inability to stop the run has been steadily increasing form 120, 150, 202 and finally 228 yards allowed, as well as nine total rushing touchdowns.

As of right now, Auburn ranks 55th nationally in total offense while the total defense ranks 96th, a whole half a yard ahead of Malzahn's previous team. Last year -- and yeah, let's not bring up last year's numbers anymore.

A Simpler Analysis

So what do all those statistics mean? Is Auburn any better, or are the Tigers the same from last year? How does any of this pertain to how the Tigers will do the rest of the season? Well, I can try to answer those questions in two tables.

Rushing Passing
295 99
301 167
120 339
213 224

This first table is Auburn's rushing and passing yardage over the first four games. We can all see the lopsided numbers over the first three games, but it's the fourth game's numbers I'm most encouraged by. This almost even split is the true sweet spot of Malzahn's offense. These two numbers give me the most confidence as to what this team is capable of, and our Tigers have another eight weeks to hone their craft.

The second table speaks for itself.

Wins Loses

Yeah, there's a lot season left, and I could end up eating a HUUUUUGGGEEE plate of crow by showing this, but as of right now, this Auburn Tigers team is easily better.

Bye-week Blues

With Auburn taking the week off before the Tigers take on Ole Miss, we're going to need a to stem the boredom till they next run out onto Pat Dye Field. Yes, like everyone else, I'll be watching football on Saturday, but we all need something to preoccupy ourselves. For me, it's watching one of the best TV shows ever made: Mystery Science Theater 3000. The easiest way to describe MST3K is "a guy gets shot into space, and with his two robot pals, they are forced to watch some of the worst movies ever made."  Joel/Mike and the Bots rip, riff and heckle these bad movies in hilarious fashion.

MST3K - 0705 - Escape 2000 (via InvaderJim42)

Also check out their new site Rifftrax, where the guys make fun of more recent movies.

That's it from me. Enjoy the rest of your week, and as always, War Eagle!

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