Okay, gang. Let’s huddle up. Oh. You don’t know what a huddle is? Well, back in the dark ages of football, before the advent of fun cards with pop culture pictures on them, teams had to use these hideous anachronisms to communicate:
Gah, what is this, like 2008? Might as well use a rotary phone.
Everyone in? Good. Look, guys. We need to talk. I don't like being the bad guy, but I’m afraid not everyone is doing his or her part to help Auburn. I know! Unthinkable! But it’s true. Auburn’s games have come down to the wire in recent weeks, and I just can’t shake the feeling we could be doing more to help. Since the season began, it seems many of us have forgotten the most important rules we as fans must abide by:
Our superstitions, specifically those related to gameday apparel.
It has come to my attention via Twitter that a few people, including our illustrious editor (love you, mean it!), may have forgotten our zero tolerance policy here at UcB for gameday apparel that’s seen a loss. I get it. Gameday fashion is a big deal. Once you find a look that works, it’s easy to lose track of its wins and losses. But you can’t let that happen. You must be vigilant.
I know August 30 seems like an eternity ago, but honestly people, we just talked about this: Only undefeated clothing is to be worn during games. Ever. Period. End of discussion. That’s all she wrote. Drop the mic and walk away.
For your convenience, here’s the hierarchy of gameday clothing:
1. Undefeated over multiple seasons*
2. Undefeated over a single season**
3. Undefeated over a few games***
4. Undefeated over a single game****
Truth be told, I’m not blameless in this situation either. Heck, we can go ahead and blame Saturday’s struggles on me. I wasn’t on top of my apparel game. I couldn’t find my undefeated Cam jersey, nor anything else acceptable. Until about two minutes before kickoff, I was wearing a t-shirt that I hadn’t worn during a game since 2009. I remembered it saw some wins that season, but as we changed the channel from the Florida’s delicious humiliation of Georgia to Auburn’s pregame, it all came flooding back: My tried and true blue Auburn shirt had indeed seen a loss. It was a loss so painful that I blocked out almost everything about it, but a loss nonetheless: the 2009 Iron Bowl.
Knowing the consequences of wearing of a defeated gameday shirt, I changed immediately into the shirt I wore for the South Carolina game, which honestly should’ve been my second clue things were going awry. While that shirt may be technically undefeated, that Carolina game was anything but easy. But after Auburn scored a quick touchdown, I was lulled into thinking my choice was a good one. Then our defense started to slowly melt and the yellow flags began a-flying. In what I can only describe as an act of desperation, I grabbed an untested (but very old) Ronnie Brown jersey. Untested clothing, as you can see in the list above, is ranked only above nudism and defeated clothing. I stuck with Ronnie through the end of the third quarter, mostly because I couldn’t actually get out of the fetal position. Once I was able to extricate myself from the couch, I knew Ronnie, as much as I loved him, had to go. At that point, still unable to locate my Cam jersey, I surrendered myself to the madness and picked up another untested shirt, this time Auburn Strong. That shirt, along with a quick relocation to my bedroom and careful positioning won us that game. And I guess Auburn’s prolific offense plus Kris Frost. But mostly my shirt. You’re welcome.
My Saturday struggles, while comical, are illustrative of my larger point: We have to be more careful, people. With games this close, one slipup could mean the difference between playing Clemson in Atlanta AGAIN and playing in the College Football Playoff.
Why isn’t this text in italics too? Because it’s not in sarcasm font*******. Duh.
Saturday’s win was equal parts beauty, horror, and tragedy.
Auburn’s offense, when not stopped dead by penalties, was almost unstoppable. Cameron Artis-Payne has really come into his own as the feature back, something I didn’t expect after watching him during the first couple of games. He seems like a new player, hitting the line of scrimmage harder. I’m sure some of that is due to better offensive line play as well. Whatever clicked with this running game, I’m digging it. And I wish Roc a speedy recovery. At the end of the night, Auburn rushed for almost 250 yards against arguably the SEC’s best defense. All we heard was how Auburn wasn’t going to be able to run on Ole Miss like LSU did because LSU’s rushing attack is designed to hit you in the mouth and Auburn’s attacks the perimeter. While Auburn’s certainly threatens the perimeter, I’m not sure any talking head actually watches Auburn play football. You know where CAP gained most of his yards? Right. Up. The. Middle. Someone please put me on the SEC Network. Give me a show with Ginger McClipboard. America needs this.
Nick Marshall did Nick Marshall things, which means making brilliant reads with his eyes, nifty plays with his feet, and terrifying throws with his arm. It’s hard to argue with his results, though. When he’s throwing to Sammie and Duke, as Sammie said, if he puts it in their zip code, they’ll go get it. I’m even getting used to my heart stopping when he throws into triple coverage********. I don’t think Nick Marshall will ever win a Heisman trophy*********, but he doesn’t need to. He does what we ask him to and he does it beautifully. I wouldn’t trade Shark Eyes for anyone else in the country.
Nick Marshall, you just heaved the ball 60 yards to tie the game. How do you feel? "Cool."— Peggy (@peggyrossmanith) November 2, 2014
As beautiful as the offense was, the defense just couldn’t seem to stop, well, anything (that wasn’t already out of bounds). Sure there were uncalled holds, but there are uncalled holds in every game. There’s no excuse to let Bo Freaking Wallace become a mobility threat. The poor tackling and multiple stupid penalties were inexcusable. But I still have to hand it to them: They found a way to win, forcing two consecutive goal line turnovers. They didn’t do a lot right in that game, but they did enough. However, if Auburn truly has championship aspirations, Ellis needs to work some miracles.
The tragedy came with the loss of Laquon Treadwell. As @bobby_barkley and @Aubielicious pointed out on the War Eagle Sports Radio post-game show, hoping for the touchdown to be reversed while a young man was being carted off the field with a mangled leg was a bizarre, sad feeling.
A few thoughts:
1. It’s never easy to see a promising season cut short by a horrific injury but reading that Treadwell believed he let his team down broke my heart. Ole Miss lost a lot on that play, but no one was at fault. Sometimes bad things happen for no reason at all. That it happened in such a way to cost them a touchdown, potentially the game, a shot at the West, the Playoffs, and maybe a national championship will likely hurt forever. But Laquon Treadwell’s career is far from over and he will return to fight another day.
2. My most-favorited tweet since I joined Twitter in 2008 was about being heartbroken for Treadwell. Don’t tell me Auburn people celebrated his injury.
3. There’s no great way to say this, but Frost’s tackle was legal. It just was.
4. The Opelika-Auburn News is a poor reflection of the Auburn community. But I’ve said my piece on Twitter, Facebook, and even on O-A’s website so I won’t belabor the point. Just do better.
If you’re heading to the Plains to watch Auburn take on Texas A&M, yell extra loud for me. I’ll be in Baton Rouge for the Alabama-LSU game. As many of you know, my roommate and best friend is an LSU alumna and fan and I expect nothing but good times to be had by all. I kind of hope A&M is still in shambles so I won’t have to hunker down at someone’s tailgate, but I take nothing for granted after that South Carolina game.
Until next time—War Eagle!
*My Cam Newton jersey
**My orange Auburn t-shirt from 2013, conveniently not worn during the LSU game
***My stolen Auburn SOS shirt
****My Auburn Strong shirt
*****My Bo Jackson jersey
******My other Cam Newton jersey :( Thanks for nothing, Mississippi State.
*******I mean, you know, mostly. Except for the tiny part of me that believes it with every fiber of my being. Change your shirts, people!
*********I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to be in the conversation. He's very, very good. I just don’t think he’s the best player in the country, and that’s what the Heisman is. Remember AJ's BS Feelings Game Manager Lifetime Achievement Award Heisman campaign?