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Undercover Barner: So Fresh So Mean

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This week’s Undercover Barner likes fish and grits and all that pimp…stuff. Because this is a family show. 

Ain't nobody dope as me, I play so fresh so mean

NCAA Football: Clemson at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Don't you think I'm so sexy when I hit that bubble screen

NCAA Football: Clemson at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Ain't nobody dope as me when those fakes are unforeseen

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

I love when you stare at me as we press the gasoline.

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

On the same night Big Boi and Andre 3000 performed together on the same stage as Outkast for the first time in two years, Auburn’s offense and defense also performed together on the same field for the first time after a lengthy and rather public separation.

It wasn’t perfect, but finally Auburn dominated an inferior opponent on both sides of the ball. After a shaky start in the first quarter*, the game was never really in question. As a perpetual worrier, I can’t describe what a relief that was, but I probably don’t have to. You felt it, too. From the apartment of one of my good friends in Birmingham, I could almost hear several hundred thousand Auburn fans breathe a collective sigh of relief when Sean White completed an entire series as quarterback and wasn’t replaced.

But Peggy, it was just Arkansas State!

Sure. But remember when Jacksonville State took Auburn to overtime last year?

No, I don’t remember that, actually.

Yeah me neither. Guess it didn’t happen.

But why did Gus feel the need to break out the fake field goal against a Sunbelt opponent?

I mean, probably because he didn’t appreciate his mojo being (rightfully) questioned. He can be reactionary sometimes. Also I’m not sure he cares who Auburn’s opponent is at any given time, for better or worse.

But didn’t we make a bunch of mistakes?

Sure. But Auburn also had 706 yards of total offense, 462 of which came on the ground. FOUR Auburn players rushed for at least 60 yards and TWO of those guys were quarterbacks. Compared to what we saw against Clemson, Auburn’s offensive gameplan against the Red Wolves seemed much closer to what Gus has built his reputation on. If this is what 2016’s offense is going to look like, I’m good with it.

I was talking about the Defense.

Oh. Then you may direct your question to the Defensive line because I want to watch that conversation unfold.

In all seriousness, Auburn did exactly what it needed to do this past Saturday. After its anemic and uninspired performance against a lackluster Clemson defense, Auburn’s offense had to show some kind of aptitude if it has any hope of surviving the upcoming schedule, much less an Amen Corner away from Jordan-Hare.

It’s amazing what happened when the quarterback best known for his ability to throw the ball to his own teammates was left in the game for more than a few snaps at a time. It’s almost as if establishing an offensive rhythm is a key to success. But I’m not paid millions of dollars by the athletic department so I guess I’ll leave that strategery to the professionals. I will forever be grateful to Jeremy Johnson for his dedication and loyalty to Auburn, but White is the guy. And Saturday night, he was finally given the opportunity to show why. He made good decisions and kept Auburn’s offense moving instead of stalling.

But he didn’t do it alone. Kerryon Johnson** and Kamryn Pettway were a joy to watch run wild, and the offensive line seemed more competent and cohesive this week. Auburn has dynamic receivers (plural) for the first time since…2010, and they’re just babies! And man alive is John Franklin III fast. I look forward to seeing more of him as he becomes comfortable with the playbook.

But that defense. It was nasty. It swarmed the football. It disrupted plays, and rarely did it find itself totally out of position. But I mean, it did happen a few times. Those mental mistakes often led to explosive plays and are what teams with much better offenses are going to be able to exploit. The good news is that the Defensive showing against Clemson doesn’t appear to be an anomaly. They’re much, much better than before. We have linebackers again! The bad news is that it’s against the law for Carl Lawson to actually eat people.

The bottom line is that this past Saturday’s game gave us what we all wanted: a quarterback, an offense, a defense, and a complete game. Operation MAKE AUBURN FOOTBALL FUN AGAIN*** was a success.

Turning our attention to football that has the potential to be less fun, I have no idea what to expect going into the Texas A&M game. They certainly seem to have offensive firepower. And for the first time under Sumlin, their defense seems to be a thing, I guess. Thanks, Chavis. I don’t know enough about them at this stage to have even an inkling of how this one will go, but at least we can field a complete team again. Complete teams can compete with anyone. Probably. I don’t know. Let’s just see how it goes. I know I’m excited to see what this team can do.

If you’re traveling to the sweet Auburn for another blessed night game at home, yell loud for me. I’ll be watching Big Boi****at Music Midtown at kickoff so my voice will be needed elsewhere. This season is going to be fun, guys, and I can’t wait to experience it with you!

Until next time—War Eagle!

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*I don’t think I’ve been that nervous about a Sunbelt opponent since…last season.

**For all the marching band kids out there, wasn’t KJ’s “spin move” a perfect about-face?

***I’d wear that hat. And no, I’ve never heard of Bryce Harper of wall-hitting fame. That guy sounds like a tool.

****If you know me at all, you already know this column probably would’ve been Outkast-themed with or without seeing Big Boi this weekend.