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Undercover Barner: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This week’s Undercover Barner comes to you through a haze of cold medicine, defensive depression, and offensive euphoria.

My spirit animal.
My spirit animal.
Stacy Revere

I love Steve Spurrier. Unashamedly. I love everything he says and everything he hasn't officially said but probably really did anyway.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never lived in Florida or because the first game he coached I actually remember attending was the 2001 Auburn-Florida game in Jordan-Hare.* I missed the meat of the real Spurrier hatred because by the time I became truly aware of football culture, we’d beaten him recently and he was trying his hand at the NFL. He’s since settled in at Carolina as the elder statesman of the SEC, the uncle we all wish we had, and my favorite coach not in orange and blue.

So I love the man. He is my spirit animal.

I guess that’s why I can’t get too bent out of shape at what transpired at JHS last Saturday. I mean, it was ugly, at least on the defensive side of the ball. The offense was playing out in the stratosphere, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

I want** to be mad. I really do. I want to throw things and scream and curse Ellis Johnson’s name. Spurrier was one step ahead of Ellis at every turn. I hadn’t seen our defense so lost since last year’s track meet at Kyle Field, but even then we had some sense of a pass rush. Auburn’s defense was completely ineffectual, almost to the point of comedy. Carolina might as well have knelt on first and second down because Auburn was going to give up third-and-long every time. It was frustrating and downright hard to watch.

But it was also a chess match between two of the greatest offensive minds in the conference, if not the country. This wasn’t BERT. It was the HBC. True enough, this South Carolina team has been anything but consistent. A&M absolutely murdered them at home. But they did beat Georgia, who look pretty solid right now, despite playing without OMGurley. But then they lost to Kentucky. I guess I’m trying to say a few things:

1. I don’t understand the SEC East.

2. Auburn HAS to play better on defense if we are to have any prayer of winning more games. Period. We can’t take that defense into Vaught-Hemingway, Sanford, or Bryant-Denny and expect to win. Hell, I’m not even sure we could take it to Jordan-Hare again.

3a. But we’ll see how that plays out this weekend. It almost has to be better because it couldn’t get much worse, right?

3b. Get well soon, Carl.

4. If I'm being honest, I expected this game to be in hand by the middle of the third quarter. By the time I realized Carolina wasn’t going down easy and Ellis hadn’t made his patented adjustments, all of my outgoing texts got bleak. There was a point during South Carolina’s last drive*** where I could hear my heart beating in my chest—not the blood in my ears—my heart. The interception and the euphoria immediately following scared the poor pugs to death.

5. I’m still okay with it because Spurrier pulled out all the stops and Auburn still came out on top. Cheers, HBC.

I’ll stop beating that dead horse, though. We could talk all day about what went wrong on that side of the ball, but that would be doing a disservice to Auburn’s absolutely brilliant offensive**** performance.

There’s nothing more beautiful than watching Nick Marshall run in an open field. He makes it look effortless. Cam ran over people, but Nick makes grown men look foolish as they run over themselves. CAP apparently decided he didn’t want to lose his job to a freshman and looked more like the back we all expected him to be. Nick Marshall attempted just 14 passes because he didn’t need to attempt any more. Auburn had almost 400 yards on the ground and it was a thing of beauty. It was one of the more complete games Auburn’s offense has put together, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We needed every one of those six touchdowns.

How will Auburn fare this Saturday in Oxford? Hard to say. Even in the shadows of Ole Miss’ newly deflated sails, I sure would feel better about this game if it were in Jordan-Hare. But at least there are no cowbells to contend with this time. I’m interested to see Shark Eyes vs. the Land Sharks. If we don’t find ourselves in a 21-0 hole and the defense rattles Dr. Bo a little, Auburn could be in good shape.

I’ll leave you with this:

He is the greatest human being on Earth.

Until next time--War Eagle.

--

*The night before, I’d torn every ligament in my right ankle. I walked around campus all day with my mom’s college roommate, Ann. She brought me to the game. We sat next to the dean of Florida’s College of Agriculture. We won. We rolled Toomer’s. I was in a cast by Monday. It was worth it.

**Let’s be real. I am mad. It was pitiful. But c’est la vie.

***Something bothered me about Gus’ call to punt to them that last time. I get that there are two schools of thought and that it was the safe move, but he chose to go ahead and win the game against K-State instead of playing not to lose. Here, he put the game back in the hands of his defense who’d made exactly one stop all night. It worked out fine, but it just perplexed me. However, in Gus I trust.

****Okay, the asterisk in the room is that Carolina’s defense is hot garbage. Whatever. Join the club.

******Bonus Footnote: The duplicate jersey thing, after we got jobbed on that OPI against State? Next.