So I spent the weekend watching baseball (Cubs win!), a little college football (Thoughts and prayers, Nick Chubb), and just catching up on some family time. I also tried to wrap my head around the 2015 Auburn Tigers and figure out just what the heck happened.
And to be honest, I got nothin'.
The fact that Jeremy Johnson was so horrendous in the first three games of the season is mind boggling. I remember wondering after the first half of the season opener in 2014 if Nick Marshall would get his job back. Now I wish Nick Marshall had another year of eligibility. Sean White has been serviceable for Auburn, and I like his demeanor on the field, but offensively something just seems off.
Defensively, I do believe that AU is much improved, but they still have a long way to go. The front four have been disappointing. I expected a little more out of Montravius Adams as a disruptive force, especially after the Louisville game.
But honestly, we would be talking about how much better the defense is compared to 2014 if the offense was playing up to par.
So, I have no clue how things pan out for the final 7 games. But here are five wishes for the offense:
1. Play fast- This offense does not work if it's at a slow pace. We have seen that time and time again over the years with Malzahn offenses. The habit of wholesale changes in personnel only bog this offense down. I understand getting playmakers on the field in certain situations, but why not have your best in one group? Example: We rarely see Roc Thomas on the field at the same time as Barber. Why not make the defense have to defend them both for an entire drive.
2. Playmakers (find some): From what we've seen, there haven't been any, but history tells us that there are plenty of these gamebreakers on the field. Ricardo Louis is a playmaker. So is Melvin Ray. Roc has the ability to break it at any moment. For whatever reason these guys have not been getting the ball in space. If Auburn is to turn this offensive unit around, those guys have got to make plays.
3. Change the route tree: Auburn's pass routes, in my opinion, have become stale and predictable. They rarely seem to flood zones. Rarely to never do we see slant routes or hot routes. I think Auburn's passing game improves by changing things up just a little.
4. More Kerryon: I'd like to see the freshman get more carries, and not just out of the wildcat. I really think he could be our best back going forward.
5. Gus, Don't overthink it: I think one major problem is that Gus is just as perplexed by the stagnation as the rest of us. There was no backup plan to Jeremy Johnson being so awful in the first 3 games. Now Gus is attempting anything and everything to get the offense back on track. In doing this, the offensive pace slows to a crawl (see #1) and the whole premise of the offense (breaking down a mentally and physically fatigued defense with misdirection, slight of hand, and the occasional shot downfield) is gone. Auburn has to get back to this to have a chance to have a decent finish to the season.
All that being said, here's the good news: nobody in the SEC is knock your socks off good. Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, and even Alabama are beatable. It's really all about match ups, and if Auburn can improve offensively, they have a chance in all of these games. It's a weird year, where no one is really a whole lot better than anyone else.
Here's hoping we right the ship starting Thursday night in Lexington.