I knew this would be a long day from Leonard Fournette's first carry from scrimmage. I tried to barn myself into thinking we had a shot for much of the first half. I gave up after Fournette's demoralizing touchdown run (I can't remember which one at this point.) But I still watched, hoping that Auburn would garner up some sort of moral victory that we saw in 2013.
The difference is this: Jeremy Johnson is no Nick Marshall. Not even close. And we can all agree that the Cam Newton comparisons were asinine at that point. Cam can read NFL defenses. Jeremy Johnson, to this point, hasn't shown us that he can read a college defense.
Here's the thing, I do not blame Jeremy for this. I blame Gus and Rhett Lashlee, either for not having JJ prepared to read a defense or for not recognizing that JJ isn't capable of doing so.
In the second half, Johnson carried the ball some, which is a good thing, I think, but he looks dreadfully uncomfortable running the zone read. He has no explosiveness on that first step. All I see is discomfort and indecisiveness.
And when you have a quarterback that isn't comfortable running and/or throwing in this offense, in any offense, well, that's not so good.
I have heard a lot the last couple days about Muschamp's defense being lousy as well. It's not great, admittedly, but I still believe this unit is better than last year. It is hard to say with an offense that consistently puts the defense in terrible situations, with turnovers and poor time of possession. That being said, they still need to be better. Some of these young guys need to come along faster. They have no choice at this point.
And let's forget all the rhetoric about Carl Lawson being back soon. If what I'm hearing is true, Auburn may get him back for the end of the year. I have no idea why the coaching staff doesn't just say that.
I complain about all of this but I still believe that the ship gets righted. Malzahn is no Chizik. Year after year we have seen the guy make big changes in order to accommodate his personnel. And Will Muschamp did not forget how to coach defense in between here and Gainsville.
The 2012 implosion was much in part due to lack of leadership and character in the coaching staff. I do not believe that the same is true in 2015. I see Johnson getting one more shot at getting his head on straight. My guess is there will be a pretty short hook for him against State. Then maybe Sean White or even Jason Smith get a shot.
If Auburn squeaks by Mississippi State they get San Jose State at home, then winnable road games following a bye week at Kentucky, and at Arkansas, where Bielemma has himself a mess of his own. Win those four winnable games in a row and all of a sudden things are looking up. That's a rosy picture, but what else can we do at this point except try to find a silver lining.
Let me say I am utterly shocked at this season. Never have I seen expectations crumble so quickly after a loss. Let me also say that we should all take anything and everything a recruiting service says with a grain of salt. They are blind hogs finding acorns to me at this point.
Keep the faith, believe in Auburn, and maybe good things are coming our way...