I didn't make it to Atlanta because here's the thing about Atlanta: it sucks. The traffic sucks, the roads suck, the parking sucks and the Braves suck. And the last one is the one that hurts most of all. I'll go to Atlanta to see the Rolling Stones or a Braves game, because I don't have much of a choice. But I'd rather watch Auburn's season opener on my television than in Atlanta. They have the Varsity, which is delicious, an IKEA and Taco Mac. And that's all of the cool things that I can think of in Atlanta. Oh, former College and Magnolia editor and fellow site founder Chris Fuhrmeister is in Atlanta. He's cool, has a beard. I hate that he can't enjoy decent barbecue anymore.
What did we learn from Auburn's first game of the season? There was much to be excited about in 2015: a comparatively experienced quarterback, a stable of promising running backs, the return of Carl Lawson and the $1.6 million defensive upgrade.
- Jeremy Johnson should throw fewer interceptions! I mean, I don't lay all of the interception that happened on third-and-Douglasville on Jeremy. Coach Malzahn has to take some of the blame for putting him in that position with the penalty. It was still a terrible throw. All of them were.
But when they were pretty, they were gorgeous, weren't they? I'm choosing to believe that the future is the touchdown that could have been to Jason Smith and not the bomb thrown into triple-coverage. For all of his immense promise, Jeremy was still starting the third game of his career; just the second against a quality opponent. Back to the Future III, Matrix: Revolutions, Friday After Next, The Godfather Part III, Smokey and the Bandit 3, The Hangover Part III, Honey We Shrunk Ourselves and Major League: Back to the Minors were disappointing, too. But Mad Max: Fury Road was fantastic, right?
So let's put Jeremy Johnson: Beyond Thunderdome behind us and start focusing on the next one. This showdown with the Cocks could be the feel good hit of this endless summer.
Here is the thing that actually concerns me about Jeremy Johnson: the contention that he isn't a runner appeared true. As such, the read option isn't really a thing. He's going to hand it off or throw it. It's why he was never going to unseat Nick Marshall, and it's why Marshall and Cam Newton thrived. I hope that changes, but I'm not sure they really even attempted it on Saturday.
- The defense looked better! I mean, kind of, right? The numbers lie a little here. But what isn't a lie? Defense carried the team for a half of football, and I would have been a little tired and taken a half hour nap after all of that work, too.
It looked much different without Carl Lawson and Tray Matthews. That's for sure. And health is going to be the key, because I'm not sure anyone was ever under any delusion that depth was a strength, but eleven or so of these guys look pretty great.
- New blood! Here are some guys that looked really great other than Tray Matthews and Carl Lawson: Peyton Barber, Ricardo Louis, Daniel Carlson.
Peyton Barber felt familiar, and I think it's because of Cameron Artis-Payne. He was kind of unassuming. It wasn't overwhelmingly sexy. He just did his job, did it well and at the end of it, he had racked up over 100 yards. I don't think I expected Ricardo Louis to be the guy on the receiving end of that end around, jet sweep play that Gus Malzahn is in love with, but he executed it well most times, with one scoring. And Carlson is continuing a tradition of me not having to worry about kickers at Auburn. 56 yards. Some schools long for a guy that can kick a ball that far without coming up short. Auburn has that guy.
I really hoped for more out of Jovon Robinson. Maybe he'll still get there.
It was the first game of the season. Auburn doesn't open with games this big often. And earlier this week, AL.com's Brandon Marcello wrote a piece in which Tim Horton had emphasized that his old boss, Bobby Petrino, would throw the kitchen sink at this game. Petrino had never lost an opener, and beating Auburn in this game would have been one of the most important things that had happened in his career. Hyperbole? What else comes close? Auburn got every iota of wit, pluck, mettle and grit from the coach that flirted with its head job twice. And there's a reason that Auburn was interested twice.
Auburn's new scoreboard is big as hell. Now, we'll get to see it in action.
Jacksonville State is a great time to learn to throw the ball away. It's a great time to heal some bruises. The gap between perception and reality is your blind spot. The most improvement is done between week one and week two. It's a process. Twenty years ago, we had Bob Hope, Steve Jobs and Johnny Cash. Now we have no hope, no jobs and no cash!
Haha...it all really makes you think. War Eagle. Beat Cocks.