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Undercover Barner: Auburn Sky Watch 2012 (c)


Note: When I started this column, I had no idea we’d be going through such an identity crisis as a fanbase this season. We don't know what we're feeling most of the time. My immediate instinct is to take care of our own before worrying about anyone else. So if you’ll indulge me one last "revised expectations" piece, I promise I’ll get back to making fun of Bammers soon.

I had to get myself away from the internet after Saturday’s win.

Let me repeat that: Saturday’s win.

When Parkey’s kick split the uprights, I was ecstatic. I acted like a fool. But not everyone felt the same way. I watched the same game as everyone else, and I KNOW it was ugly. I know that we were lucky to win that game. I know it took trick plays, blocked field goals, and a crazy catch by Sammie Coates to beat a team from the Sun Belt.

But Auburn won.

Auburn did something it hadn’t done all season: It scored more points than the opposing team.

Auburn did something Arkansas couldn’t do last week: It held off a hungry team with an aggressive coach and nothing to lose.

And our record isn’t 0-3 going into the meat of our SEC schedule. So at least there’s that. Is it sad that not being 0-3 is something to celebrate? Unbelievably so, especially two years after a national championship. But remember the revised expectations? I’m celebrating what I can

Our special teams are playing lights out. Two blocked field goals? Are you serious? And the kickoff coverage? Insane. Parkey and Clark are consistently good, and consistency isn't something we've seen lately from other parts of the game. If you want my non-expert opinion, special teams can make or break a struggling team. And they made Auburn on Saturday. I’m damned proud of them.

I’m proud of Coates’ catch, but I’m also proud of Frazier for putting that ball where no one else could get it. If you haven’t seen a picture, Coates' feet are at least three feet off the ground. He plucked that football out of the clouds and gave Auburn six points that proved to be invaluable on a nearly busted play. So, we needed a little luck; 0-2 teams can’t be picky about where points come from.

Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment: Auburn has a hard time putting an offensive drive together. In fact, Auburn has a hard time getting a first down at times. Anyone want to argue with that? I don’t. Auburn has an inexperienced offensive line, and it's not winning in the trenches. Plus it has a true sophomore quarterback with confidence issues. But Auburn scored FOUR offensive touchdowns on Saturday. How many had it scored up to that point? One? So yeah. I was proud of them. It was some kind of tangible progress, even if it was short-lived.

Most, if not all, of the criticism of this team is completely fair. They have to get better, and we should be seeing progress. I just think we saw some on Saturday. The guys put together enough to win the game. I could have thought about what went wrong (a lot) or I could have yelled and celebrated and toasted the Tigers with my mommy (which is what I did). I just chose to be happy for the evening. I don’t want to lose sight of a win just because it was a horrifically ugly win. I think Sunday mornings are for brunches with bloodies and dissecting your team’s game from the night before. Saturday nights are for rolling Toomer’s and War Eagling everyone you see. But I’m an old soul.

I really didn’t want to have to say it explicitly, but I think we’ve come to that point in the season: Celebrate what you can this year, guys. There may not be a whole hell of a lot to celebrate. Don’t miss an opportunity to War Eagle. When Coates flies, scream until you’re hoarse. When the defense finishes a tackle, well, keep screaming. They need the encouragement. When Auburn wins, whether or not it was pretty, just choose to be happy about it. Because the alternative is being miserable, and that’s just not worth it. Trust me, I’m surrounded by smiling Alabama fans everyday who are more than happy to be the cause of our misery. Don’t help them.

In any case, I’m proud to be a fan of the team that beat ULM on Saturday. I hate that it took special teams heroics in OT to do it, but the end result was a win. Thank goodness LSU is a home game. Maybe the crowd in JHS will give Auburn some more encouragement.

In reference to last week’s expectation that the ULM game would answer the question of whether or not the sky was falling on the Plains, I think it provided the perfect non-answer. A win was a step forward, but inconsistency abounded. We still don’t know much about these Tigers. I’d put Auburn Sky Watch 2012 © at Threat Level Mango: Conditions still capable of producing falling objects.

Take care this week, Tiger fans.

Until next time—War Eagle.