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Iron Bowl Thoughts... Right Now

With a couple of days to go, I have some serious waffling going on in my mind.  On the one hand, it appears that Bama is a well oiled machine, and will roll over the Tigers.  On the flip side of that, Auburn is coming into this Iron Bowl with "no chance" to win.  The last time I can remember that it was 1989.  Nothing will compare to that game and the atmosphere in Jordan-Hare will not be that electric again, especially in this 2009 matchup.

Here are my thoughts as of this moment… ask me ten minutes from now and I am sure they will have changed, at least slightly.

  First and foremost is that Chris Todd will have to have a career day.  I mean a Tre Smith type of career day, one he will be remembered for.  He will have to make the perfect passes over the middle, and be able to complete the deep ball.  The Alabama secondary is not all that, but neither is Todd’s deep ball.  Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams will have to make the plays. 

 Auburn will not be able to pound the ball up the middle.

  Onterio McCallebb is still nursing the high ankle sprain and Ben Tate could not get free on Georgia’s defense and for sure will not be able to do it on the Tide.  The play action will be just for show, as the Tide will be to stout up front.  I also have a feeling that the Alabama blitz will be on every play.  That is assuming that they will have to blitz to get pressure on Todd.  That brings me to my next point.

The offensive line is going to have to give Chris the time to go through his reads.

  The line is also going to need to keep its composure and discipline.  No penalties.  None.  When they get one it always seems to be at a drive killing moment.  So in my mind they cannot have any.  No false starts, no holds, no nothing.  Personally, I think the screen pass could be the Tigers best weapon on Friday.  Again that is assuming that the Tide blitzes on every play.

Offensively Auburn should be able to move the ball.

  I think that Gus will have some tricks up his sleeve and Auburn will score on some sort of BIG play.  Alabama seems to give up plenty of yards, but locks down when they have to.  If Auburn can make it through the game with no turnovers, the game can stay relatively close.

Defensively Auburn is just plain weak.  No Eltoro at the Linebacker spot will hurt us, but with the previous bye week, Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens and Adam Herring should be well rested.  The defensive line will have to get pressure on Greg McElroy.  He is the weak link to the machine that is the Alabama offense.  If Auburn can rattle him he has been known to make the bad decision, and kill a drive.  Auburn will have to cause a least two turnovers to win, maybe one will have to be a score as well.  Mark Ingram does not fumble, so the turnovers will have to be off of McElroy. 

Speaking of Ingram, I am thinking he is going to make is Heisman push against the Tigers.  Saban is not only going to want to blow Auburn out at home, but get Alabama their first Heisman winner in the process.  Auburn’s line is going to have to "get big" and plug up the holes.  Ted Roof is not going to be able to keep a LB or Safety spying on Ingram.  While in the past, I have thought that the secondary of Auburn was okay, watching Neiko Thorpe get beat deep on damn near every play against UGA is a major problem.  Walt McFadden is going to have to line up with Julio Jones, because Thorpe will get beat like a dog… again.  So Marquis Maze will be the go to guy for Alabama, especially lined up against Neiko.  Lastly, Bynes or Stevens will have to be out in coverage against Colin Peek, the Tight End of the Tide.  Neither of these guys is very good in coverage, so they will have to step up huge.  Peek is one of McElroy’s favorite targets. 

Special teams will have to be just that… Special.

  No turnovers!  On the cover teams, they are going to have to play better then they have all year.  Javier Arenas is amazing; I would not punt it to him under any circumstances.  Clinton Durst is going to have to earn his scholarship this week.  I hope he has been practicing his directional punts.  Wes Byrum has had a good year, if he can make some big kicks against Bama it could be a great year.  If Auburn can have a clean special teams game, it will go a long way to allowing the Tigers to pull the upset.

So as you can see, Auburn will have to have a near perfect game to hang with the Tide.  They are for real, but in my view they are still the "luckiest team in America."   Sometimes luck has to be on your side to remain undefeated.  It is well documented that the Alabama offense struggles in the red zone.  If Auburn can just hold on and keep them out of the endzone, Chris Todd and the offense could just pull out the upset.  Auburn is playing for pride and bowl position… All the pressure is on Alabama, if they win "they were supposed to."  If they lose, "they are finished when it comes to the National Championship." 

Auburn could really mess up the SEC in the BCS with a huge win in Jordan-Hare.  With a win over Bama and then Bama winning against Florida neither will be in the National Championship game, and it would be quite a remarkable feat for the Tigers to keep the Tide out of the big one. 

Can Auburn do it?  Damn right.  Should we as Auburn fans expect it?  No way.  Should we scream our collective heads off in attempt up pump up the players?  Count on it.

War Damn Eagle