By mid-afternoon Saturday, Auburn people knew what coaches surely have known for weeks: The party is over. All good times must come to an end; but this hangover is likely to require more than a few Tylenols and a long nap.
It's hard to put into context what a loss to Utah State would have meant. Few programs (if any) have ever followed up their biggest win in school history with its biggest loss. On Saturday, Gene Chizik and company came face-to-face with a near death experience.
The coaches warned us. The pundits guaranteed it. Despite the signs, what fans witnessed Saturday afternoon was downright disturbing. I know Utah State played Oklahoma close last season. I know they returned a veteran offensive line. I know they returned key players from injury.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
Taking the glass half-empty approach, there's no excuse for a second-tier WAC school dominating an SEC defensive line like the Aggies did Saturday. Let's face it, there's not one player from the entire state of Utah that Auburn would welcome with a scholarship, much less a player who would end up in Logan, Utah.
No excuse works for what transpired Saturday afternoon, but things may not be as bad as they seem. There were plenty of silver linings. Barrett Trotter looked like a third-year veteran instead of a wide-eyed first time starter.
Lost in the relief of winning, was how Auburn won. While these kids may be short on experience, they took away the lesson of how to win from their predecessors. That's bound to serve them well as the year goes on.
Kudos to assistant coach Trooper Taylor. Widely regarded as more of a recruiter than teacher, he showed his coaching prowess by getting his new receivers ready. Travante Stallworth and Trevon Reed look to be special. Throw in Emory Blake and this unit is not too shabby.
All eyes will be on Ted Roof and the defense this week. It was startling to watch some of the top recruits in America get pushed around like they did on Pat Dye Field. But remember, many of them were playing in high school stadiums a year ago.
It's hard to sit here on Sunday evening and imagine a way Auburn can win against Miss State. Let's hope the old adage that a team improves most from week one to week two is more than talk.
This Auburn defense is going to struggle and give up a lot of points. Auburn's offensive line will have to improve greatly if they are going to outscore any SEC opponent. Right now, it's hard to imagine that happening in a week.
As fans, it's time to lower expectations. As weird as it sounds, Auburn is still a project in the making. It's almost like someone interrupted our regularly scheduled program last year and now we've returned to our rebuilding process.
It goes without saying this team is loaded with talent. It also goes without saying that experience is almost non-existent. There's no question that even with these deficiencies, more was expected on Saturday.
It's likely to get worse - maybe much worse - before it gets better. As fans, let's keep our class and not take our eye off the future. Regardless of what happens this fall, things are still moving forward for this Auburn program.
Tradition never leaves.