There were so many things to be surprised about in Auburn’s 23-16 escape over Vanderbilt. I had written this game off. I figured Vandy would hang around for a half because they pretty much do that with everyone. But Auburn, much to our surprise, came into this game with lots of injuries. I read a couple rumors about Sean not practicing the week before. But Phillip Marshall at 24/7 quelled those rumors. Phillip Marshall now has the street cred of Bagdad Bob.
Another surprise was how well Vandy played. Though it probably shouldn't have been. They have the conference's leading running back and arguably the nation's best linebacker. They had basically 2 weeks to prepare for Auburn, if not three. And it showed.
Auburn looked like a team fighting to find emotion in a sandwich game. After a tough road win in Oxford and a tough road game against a rival coming up in Athens, our thought was "just get through this." In the end Auburn did, and that is all that really matters.
We won’t score any style points in this ballgame. Auburn struggled to find itself without Sean White calling plays. JFIII was fine in spots, but you can tell he can’t read coverages yet. It was one read for him, then take off and run. White, on the other hand, knows where to go with the ball before the ball is snapped. That was very evident Saturday.
Defensively, Auburn has an Achilles exposed a bit. The intermediate pass is open for teams, or at least they have been for the last 2 weeks now. Chad Kelly carved us up. I expected that to a certain extent.
I did not expect a quarterback completing a little over half his passes to do the same. Lots of things played into this.
First was Vandy’s ability to establish a little run game in the first half. Then Auburn found itself playing without its two starting linebackers. Tre Williams due to injury. DeShaun Davis due to stupidity.
Yeah, yeah. I know. It was a clean play and he didn’t hit the guy in the head, but when you turn yourself into a missile to hit a guy in the chest with your head down like he did, you’re asking for targeting and ejection. You just are. I didn’t like the call against Williams vs LSU. I had no problem with this one. Those type calls are as much to protect the guy making the hit as much as the guy being hit. Live and learn is all I can say.
In the end, Auburn played solid enough in the second half on both sides of the ball to earn a win against a team that had nothing to lose coming off a bye week. Remember what Auburn did coming off a bye week?
My biggest concern now is what happens with the running game. Can Pettway go? My guess is no if this is a hamstring injury. Depending on the severity, we’ll be luck to see him back for the Iron Bowl, and that makes this game against Georgia more of a challenge.
At 100%, Kerryon doesn’t make the offense go like Kam. At 80%, Auburn will have to rely more on Sean White, who had about as much zip on the ball Saturday as Chris Todd circa 2009.
So yes, there are reasons to worry about Auburn’s trip to Athens. The Tigers are beat up and banged up, and they haven’t won there since 2005. But I still think Auburn gets the W this weekend. UGA is rudderless right now. They played better against Kentucky, but their offensive line is garbage. They have a freshman quarterback and head coach. Both have looked lost at times this year.
So, don’t read too much into the Tigers squeaking by Vanderbilt. It happens in this conference. At the end of the day, a top 10 team survived another SEC game. We’re moving on to Georgia.