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Undercover Barner: War Chicken Little

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This week’s Undercover Barner is reasonably sure the sky isn’t falling.

My 2015 baby child.
My 2015 baby child.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One in a row. That’s the feeling we came away with after the clock hit 0:00 on Saturday evening. When Petrino derped up his final time out, we exhaled the breath we'd been collectively holding since the second half began. At the end of the night, Auburn defeated Louisville 31-24. Auburn, which could easily be sitting at 0-1 right now, is blessedly sporting the shiny record of 1-0. Undefeated and it feels so good*. Was it pretty? Not always. Was it easy? When is it ever? Did we find answers to any of the questions from last week? Uh. Let’s see...

How will Jeremy Johnson shoulder the burden of leading an entire team?

Well. There were flashes of brilliance, flashes of what we all knew JJ was capable of. From his perfect, on-point throws to his oft-touted but never-before-seen wheels, there were times when he was just a joy to watch.

And then there were flashes of what can only be described as hot garbage.

You could tell he regretted his first interception the moment he let go of the ball.

jj2

But he’s a new quarterback. New quarterbacks make mental errors.

You can tell we regretted his second interception.

jj

But it was still the first half. He was still a new quarterback.

By the third interception, some of #AuburnTwitter was calling for his head.

jj4

And my mama bear** claws came out.

Ideally, no, he wouldn’t have thrown three interceptions, all of them into at least double coverage. They were bad. Really bad. I have nothing to say to make those throws better, except for the fact that I’ve watched this kid play since high school. He has more upside than anyone who’s donned orange and blue in a long time. Everyone is so desperate to compare him to Cam Newton, but he’s never going to be that guy. He’s not going to tuck the ball every time Darvin (Duke) isn’t open. And we don’t need him to be Cam, not really. If anyone, we should be begging him to do his best Jason Campbell impression. We need him to stand ice cold in the pocket and put the ball where only his receivers can snag it. We need his arm cannon, and we need his accuracy. But honestly, when the chips are down, we need him to be Jeremy Freaking Johnson from Montgomery, Alabama. Carver Wolverine. Auburn Tiger. Auburn Man.

If I’m wrong about him, feel free to tell me you so ardently told me so, but I’ll never be sorry. I believe in Jeremy Johnson like I believe in Auburn, and I love them both.

How will Duke’s off-the-field issues affect his on-the-field play?

I mean, when he got the ball, Duke looked like Duke. This was a non-issue from the start, but since the guys on JOX and SECN felt the need to bring it up, I’ll count it as a win.

Who will step up as the next star of Running Back U?

Before the injury bug*** bit us, Auburn’s running-back-by-committee plan looked positively NSFW. The offense clicked really well in the first half and after Roc and Jovon went down, Peyton Barber put the team on his back, churned his legs, and grounded and pounded his way into our hearts. I’ll be fine if one particular star never receives the bulk of the carries. I seem to remember that working out just fine in 2004.

Defense? At all? Please?

Speaking of NSFW, I’d like to add my name to the list of those officially welcoming defense back to the Plains. It’s not mid-2000s level scary yet, but at the very least, we have linebackers who don’t sprint away from the ball and fall down.

And our line:

dline

Our defense isn’t perfect yet, but it’s hungry, and it’s coming for your quarterback. Consider yourself warned.

What is your dog’s name?

Glad you asked. Please allow me to re-introduce the world to Charles Wade Barkley Rossmanith.

bb

Barkley****. Final answer.

So how much more do we really know this week compared to last? Well we know that our D-line will be ruining quarterbacks’ days if it can stay healthy. We know Ricardo can catch the ball on purpose. We know that even if we have to resort to a committee of running backs, there’ll be no finer committee in the nation.

But other than that, we don’t know a whole lot. Guys, it was the first game. In 2013, Auburn beat Wazzu by the exact same score as Louisville. The sky may yet fall, but now’s not the time to channel Chicken Little.

If you're traveling to the Plains to see the Tigers take on Jacksonville State this Saturday, I may see you there. First home games are always magical, and I can't wait to feel the #heartmist as we see Spirit***** for the first time. Even if it is at 11:00******.

Until next time--War Eagle.

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*Don't judge me. I'm going to celebrate being undefeated until we're not. I mean hey, at least we're not Nebraska, right?

**If you didn't pick up on it during the several-paragraph defense of his multi-interception debut, Jeremy Johnson is my child.

***It was the first game, so I'm going to take my own advice and resist the urge to panic, but that many injuries in one night? Maybe it was the turf.

****Barkley was actually his first name, so much like multiple choice tests, second-guessing myself was where I ran into trouble.

*****Or Nova, but considering the calendar, it'll probably be Spirit. Either way, Auburn has the best pregame show in college football, and I can't wait to be a part of it.

******Since we're all old and don't tailgate like undergrads anymore, 11 o'clock games aren't the worst thing ever, but they sure aren't the best either. I'm just glad we're not playing Arkansas. I still have PTSD from 2006.