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How Do We Pull Ourselves Out of This Rut?

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Kb2_medium

 Moments of brilliance tempered with moments of desperation...

 

What's the old adage? When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging? It makes sense at first glance. That is, until you realize that to stop digging is counter-intuitive to human nature. To stop digging is synonymous with quitting, with giving up, and that's the one thing you learn from day one in organized football to never do--even if all your effort is merely spinning you in circles. In the real world, telling the difference between effective and frivolous effort is a lot harder than you think, especially when it comes to defining each as it applies to both players and coaches.

Ever since Franklin was fired, I've been waiting for the offense to settle down and come together. I hoped that some simplicity would right all the wrongs and cause the Auburn train to get back on the track. After all, this is basically the same young team from last year. We have the talent, but why has this team gotten worse with virtually every game? You would think that the drop-off in production would subside at some point, but it hasn't. We can't put together two complete halves of a game. Usually, we don't show for the 2nd half, but last week against Ole Miss we did. The problem in Oxford was that we didn't show up for the first half...

So far this year, we lack any semblance of a signature win, a quality victory over an opponent that we didn't probably expect, sort of like in Gainesville last year. Face it, our bottom of the 9th closing of Miss State is receiving top billing unless we get things in gear real fast. The coast looked clear in our schedule after we dropped the game to LSU. I figured the pressure was off a bit and the team could gel while playing some games that weren't going to be as difficult.  But after we lost to Vandy and Franklin was ousted, the subsequent losses that followed made it became readily apparent that the LSU game was actually the high-water mark of our program this year. Our effort seemed to be dwindling down, and no tonic could cure our ills.

This is a odd place to be as an Auburn fan during the Tuberville regime. We haven't lost four in a row since 1999, Tubs' first season, when we lost five straight right in the middle of the schedule.  A hallmark of his coaching prowess has been that we recovered quickly from losses--especially conference losses. I've never seen it spiral around the bowl like this, and it's very frustrating. Sure, we've had disappointing results after promising pre-season predictions; 2003 and 2005 come to mind, but I think this is the worse than all of them: a competent team expected to hold their own has had the wagon wheels come flying off. You can't even circle the wagons under that scenario...

I record the Auburn Football Review each week, but admittingly, I don't watch the whole show if we lose. I can't bear to. I only watch the beginning when Tuberville addresses the team. At first, his speeches after losses were very motivational. The one after LSU was top-notch. He had me wanting to go suit up for the next one. But gradually, the length of the speech and it's message has diminished after each successive loss. Granted, a lot of these have been on the road and the only thing you want to do after a road loss is get cleaned up and get on the bus, but I think I see the competitive fire waning quite a bit. It has to filter down to the players. Yea, I know, I shouldn't read too much into it, but with everything else that is happening, most prominently the effort on the field, I think the team has reached a crossroads at this point.

I now think that the problems with this team go so deep that the only way we're going to correct it is by having the season end and regroup for the next one, with fresh talent coming in and having some fresh faces with some of the coaches. No, I'm not talking about giving up. We have the capability of springing an upset, especially now that Georgia's hopes have been dashed and Alabama's might soon be, they might not be expecting a hook thrown by an off-balanced Auburn team. We've got to get a signature win somehow, and Amen Corner would be the time to do it, but our opportunities to build on top of something are running out. I don't know if a resounding victory over UT-Martin would serve as a big enough springboard to launch major upsets of the Dawgs or the Tide, but I hope we try. Some have suggested that Tubs has lost the team. I don't know about that, but I think that the time has come where we might want to stop digging, whatever that means...