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Undercover Barner: Thoughts from Tuscaloosa

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This week's Undercover Barner recounts memories from Saturday had while she was stuck in Tuscaloosa, the opposite of Auburn.

DUUUUUUUUUKE
DUUUUUUUUUKE
Mike Zarrilli

Well that was fun.

If we ignore the first half completely, Saturday’s game was a 24-point rout of the Arkansas Razorbacks, in which Auburn’s defense completely shut down Arkansas’ offense. I mean, we all know the first half happened, but we’re used to this Jekyll/Hyde defense thing. If we allow a team to gash us, and gash us the Hogs did, it’s a pretty safe bet that gashing will be limited to the first half. So if you came away Saturday completely discouraged, you were either not paying attention or had unrealistic expectations. Auburn is who we thought they were: pretty stinking good at football.

So what did we learn? Here are a few scattered thoughts:

First, a personal note. This was the first season opener I wasn’t able to make it home for. Ever. I know I’m spoiled by proximity (I grew up in Auburn and later Opelika) but I’m used to being able to attend Auburn games whenever I want. Unfortunately, I had a prior engagement* in Tuscaloosa last weekend that kept me from even making a day trip. I cannot begin to describe how homesick I was. From the moment I awoke on Saturday morning to the moment my head hit the pillow that night, my heart ached to be in Auburn. I missed seeing Jordan-Hare cloaked in burnt orange and navy blue and hearing the crowd swell with pride as they release Nova to a thundering "Warrrrrrrrr Eagle! Hey!" I didn’t lose my voice at any point on Saturday**, and I missed that raspy feeling I’m used to getting after third down stops. Long story short, I’m jealous of anyone who got to be there, but I’m so glad you made the trip. I’ll be down for LSU. Let’s have a party.

In news that surprises no one, I still hate BERT. But that’s a story that will play out on Twitter.

Arkansas’ offensive line had their way with us for an entire half. I do not like that feeling, and I was immensely relieved to see our fortunes reverse in the second half. Also, I really miss Carl Lawson.

Auburn is going to be comfortable at the running back position for a very, very long time. Speaking of which, Corey Grant is everything. But so is Cameron Artis-Payne. Such baby-faced angel lambs. If you can’t tell, they’re now BOTH my children. I’ve got twins now. Sorry—I can’t control these things.

I know I’m not the first to say this, but this team really does look like Auburn at the end of 2013. If this is our jumping off point, man I’m excited to see where 2014 takes us.

Despite my "The sky isn’t falling!" warning from a few paragraphs ago, I did spend the first half of Saturday’s game tweeting in capital letters, indiscriminately swinging between blind rage and despondency. The blessed second half still had the capital letters but they were more in celebration of my renewed outlook on life. I almost broke the ottoman*** when Ricardo blocked in the back, though.

Hate me if you want, but I’m glad 2014 Arkansas won’t replace 2009 West Virginia as "The Rain Game." It’s ours. You can’t have it.

I can’t do Duke Williams justice with my words. I’m not capable. He is a freak. A robot, maybe? A cyborg? He’s a cyborg with football-magnet hands. Okay this has gone off the rails, but you get the picture: kid ain’t human. Glad he’s on our side.

Even though the first half was the stuff of nightmares defensively, I really enjoyed seeing the future of Auburn offense. Jeremy Johnson commanded the team like a returning starter, not a backup. He can throw a beautiful ball, and we can all rest easily at night knowing we have one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC on our bench.

As much as the SEC Network was hyped, I didn’t want to like it. I mean, I had to have it because I refuse to be at the mercy of Alabama fans when it comes to watching Auburn football, but I wasn’t happy about it. But even when I have to hear Ginger McClipboard, it’s so nice to be able to see replays of the games I missed while I was #permascowling.

In celebration of my new favorite channel****, here are some scattered thoughts from across the SEC:

Saban and Kiffin aren’t The Odd Couple; they’re The Honeymooners. One of these days, Lane...

OMGurley.

I love Les Miles. And the guys over at Valley Shook. And LSU. I know many of you still dislike them from the Tuberville days, but you have to admit LSU football is damned fine entertainment.

Sammie and Duke have to be licking their chops after watching A&M torch South Carolina’s secondary. And Kenny Hill has to be licking his after watching our porous first half defense against Arkansas. C’est la vie.

The great Anchor Down saga of ’14 was at least 56 times more interesting than anything that happened during the Ole Miss game.

I know it’s early, but this year appears to be like last year and the year before that: West > East.

If you’re heading to the Plains this weekend to see the Tigers take on the San Jose State Spartans, do enjoy the sights and sounds. Drink some lemonade and throw a roll for me.

Until next time—War Eagle.

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*I dogsat eight precious little monsters. If I had to miss the game, at least I got to spend the weekend with dogs that make my heart smile.

**But I almost did. Because of the first half. But also because of the second. Sorry not sorry neighbors.

***I’m not exaggerating. I saw it happen, AS EVERYONE DID, and just started yelling until I think I blacked out?

****It’s not. But I highly recommend Bo, Barkley, and the Big Hurt.