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Michael Chang

As I type this, I'm still at the beach. So it's been pretty tough to "get into it." On Saturday, we had a path mapped that would allow my girlfriend (a Tide fan) to see Alabama play and me a second television to see Auburn play: the Irish Sports Pub. That sounded great. In theory.

We drove down this one road to this one Irish Sports Pub and we were about 500 yards from the place when we hit a road block, instructing that the road was covered with water. So we turned around. Trying to find a new route, Apple Maps drove us around in a square three times, as Apple Maps is wont to do. "Welp. Red Bar it is!"

So we went to Red Bar. And it was packed. And you couldn't hear the televisions. Or sit down. So we drove around. Just looking. At this point, we have missed the kickoff of the Alabama game, but if I'm being super honest, she doesn't care that much. We stumbled on Hurricane's Oyster Bar? I think that was the name of it. And it was perfect. An absolute delight! Bros, we hit it at Happy Hour and there were $1 Domestics, $5 Hurricanes and $8 oyster dozens. Two televisions on the patio. It was the best.

Around 5:20, I says to the waitress, I says: "Around 5:45 or so, I would be very appreciative if you could change this Mississippi State game over to Auburn and Washington State."

"We don't have that game," she smiled.


But she wasn't budging. Then, some other bro came over and agreed. But he was laughing, too. So, like, how am I supposed to take you seriously? Especially when each TV says, "ESPN College Gameplan" under it.

They didn't have it. No ESPNU. So I made the executive call, faced with the circumstances that we had, to go back to the house in Grayton Beach to ensure that I wouldn't miss kickoff. And I sat in a leather chair four feet from the 20-inch HD television in my bedroom and watched the first half. My lady pal went back to that bar and bought me a shrimp po' boy. It was good.

"W" is for "Wrelief:" I can't remember the last time I was that tense and uneasy about a football game. I just sat there. I didn't really drink. I didn't really cheer. I didn't tweet a ton, at least, not the way I have in years past. It wasn't frustrating. It wasn't a bad thing. It was just that this team and this fan base needed that win so badly. And getting there was a relief. And I feel like it's going to continue to feel that way a lot this year as this team grows up in front of us. Auburn desperately needs to get to the point where it has toppled Ole Miss or Mississippi State or Arkansas -- a team it is supposed to beat with some sort of regularity -- before it becomes "easy" to watch again. I lived 2012, and I am not taking those matchups for granted. One game at a time. And such.

Gus has fire: Gus got mad, y'all. At least a time or two. And it was unbelievably encouraging to see this coaching staff act as leaders and father figures rather than buddies. There was a time when that latter approach worked, but it had failed over the last two years, and change was necessary. It's a weird thing right? That Auburn has a coach who commands respect from his players, who is gracious of his fans, who doesn't fill press conferences with unnecessary words and, at the end of the day, we nearly universally refer to him by his first name.

That ain't something that happens 'round these parts. I don't have an explanation for the observation. It just is.

Montravius Adams: Holy holy holy crap. Holy crap. Oh man oh man oh man. Y'all realize he turned 18, like, two months ago? And he played that way against BCS competition on Day 1. He can't legally smoke in Alabama. He can barely vote. And he is prepared to eat you. Whole. nom nom nom nom nom. Mon Mon hungry. Feed Mon Mon.

I am terrified about that last sentence I wrote. I would never want to make Mon Mon angry. You know what? Forget that I tried to make "Mon Mon" a thing, Mr. Adams. What time would you like for me to deliver your dry cleaning?

Who is comparing Nick Marshall to Cam Newton? Please confess. Who among you is saying, "This ol' Nick Marshall is a whole lot like Cam Newton?" WHO? Because the TV crew couldn't shut up about it, and I have never once thought that those two men shared anything but the color of their skin and their position on the field. Marshall has escapability, sure, and that hasn't necessarily been a thing recently, but he doesn't have draggability. Nick Marshall isn't going to have Cam Newton's LSU "Heisman moment." But that doesn't mean he isn't capable of becoming a really good quarterback.

He, along with most of the rest of the players stepping onto the field for the first time in their lives, played almost the entirety of the first quarter as if he were a 16-year-old on a prom date with Kate Upton. They were all, like, super, super, super excited. Overthrowing guys by 20 yards, getting a little jumpy.

But dammit, that was fun to see, wasn't it?

Remember last season when everyone gave up? Literally, just quit. Like, "Fine, hit me. Whatever. I don't care anymore. I'm gonna listen to The Cure and cut myself to watch myself bleed" giving up. Done. fin. Remember it?

Overpursuits and overthrows are exciting as hell after watching that. You know what was super awesome? Seeing a quarterback take a snap and not step back seven times and just fall down because he was terrified.

But let's stop saying Cam Newton. In fact, how about we not put Cam Newton's name in the same sentence with any current Auburn quarterback. Because if you are demanding a comparison, I'd say Nick Marshall looks more like Chris Todd and Jeremy Johnson looks more like Jason Campbell. And Tucker Tuberville? Man, he's just out here putting out the vibe.

RUNNING BACK U: There's work to be done in finding a go-to receiver. Ricardo Louis, while overthrown a couple of times, had a couple of bad drops. But guess where Auburn is FINE:

Running backs. There's a running back for every need. It's like the Swiss Army knife of backfields. And if you have any clue about what Gus Malzahn actually does, it's run the damn football. And he ran the damn football. With two guys that have never run the damn football in Division I football. And it was pretty.

As they are equally a component of that working, the offensive line looks improved, right? I don't pay a lot of attention to the offensive line, admittedly, but it were clearly doing something right. Did Nick ever get sacked? I'm just thinking out loud at this point. I don't really care to go look it up. Tough. (I looked it up. He was sacked once. -ed.)

So that's it. That's TAKES this week. It's weird writing TAKES on the beach. I feel like TAKES will get more pistol-hot as the season carries on; I am honestly just relieved. I'm relieved that Auburn won. And I'm relieved that we finally launched War Eagle Sports Radio, a project that has been rushed and we've been working hard and long on all at the same time. Learn more about the app and its developers in this blog post, and make sure to check out our fearless editor and Aubielicious bringing you The College and Mag Show each week. Those bros like to drink and curse about Auburn football. War Damn.

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