The 2015 version of the Iron Bowl went just about like I expected. The exceedingly frustrating season culminated with an exceedingly frustrating Iron Bowl. Auburn's offense looked lost for the majority of the time and never really had a strategy. Auburn's defense played well enough to win the game, but gave up a couple of daggers that made the difference.
Auburn had some success early against the Alabama defense running the football with Jovon Robinson. Then Jovon Robinson disappeared from the game plan in the second half.
Jeremy Johnson was about as accurate as I expected him to be, missing open receivers on several occasions on any pass play beyond 5 yards. We had guys running open on a couple of occasions that could have been touchdown passes that were misses. Plays that Nick Marshall made in last year's Iron Bowl, Johnson did not make in this one.
Basically the same stuff we've seen all season. But Auburn was close on so many occasions to scraping out a victory.
Blake Countess dropped a pick six that would have changed the outcome of the game in the first half. He played it perfectly. Except, well, for catching it. It would have been a huge momentum swing.
On two separate occasions, Auburn has Jacob Coker dead to rights and whiffed on the tackle. One he gains positive yardage and on the other he threw a touchdown pass.
I have already mentioned the couple of throws that if accurate could have led to Auburn touchdowns.
It goes without saying the no call holding and the phantom late hit out of bounds followed by the Coach Boom meltdown was the turning point in the game. I believe O.J. Howard had Carl Lawson in a choke hold on that play. Muschamp goes berserk, and Bama gets a crucial field goal to put the game away
Those things didn't happen. And when you are playing against the best team in the country, you need those to happen in order to pull off an upset.
I do believe the offense works with a serviceable quarterback. But Auburn simply does not have one right now. Auburn better go out and find what they need. And maybe they already have in John Franklin. I have said it before and I'll say it again, the fact Gus didn't have a dual threat guy on the roster is almost unforgivable.
It is a shame too, because Auburn's defense was much much better under Will Muschamp. Believe it or not, Auburn allowed the fewest number of touchdowns in SEC games since 2008. Keep in mind that includes that overtime game in Arkansas back in October where the Tigers gave up four extra touchdowns. The defense is better and will continue to be better in coming years. Auburn must have a dual threat quarterback to really make the offense hum. If Franklin is anywhere near as good as billed, then Auburn has a chance to be back to its winning ways in 2016.
But how many games will Auburn need to win for Malzahn to keep his job after 2016? It is a question I quite frankly hate to ask, but I have to ask.
Auburn will open 2016 with Clemson, who returns darn near everybody from a team that will, barring disaster, make the 4 team playoff. Road trips to Starkville, Oxford, Athens, and Tuscaloosa loom on that schedule. The home games? Auburn hosts LSU, Arkansas, A&M and Vandy, with some cupcakes sprinkled in.
Gus will need to beat someone notable in order to save his job in 2016. Beating Georgia with a first year head coach would be helpful. On paper it appears a pretty tall task.
And I hope he can do it. And not just because I don't want to see Auburn go through another coaching search. He's a good guy and a good coach. I still believe that.
Let's hope he rights this ship.