Auburn led 20-0. And lost.
That’s all you need to know.
Seriously, this is one of the worst Auburn games I’ve ever watched. I had to listen to the first quarter on the radio, and then switched to TV just in time for it to get bad, and I got to hear Brad and Gary absolutely gush over how gutsy LSU was.
It’s my fault. I probably screwed up the mojo. My wife thinks that I’m negative about Auburn football. I AM. For this very reason. We lead by three touchdowns, and I clap my hands and say “Woo hoo!” and we blow said lead to lose in humiliating fashion.
Why wouldn’t I be negative?
So, what happened today?
Auburn jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first half, thanks to a stellar and sparkling start. On the Tigers’ first drive, Daniel Carlson hit a long field goal for a 3-0 lead, then Jarrett Stidham hit Will Hastings for a 50-yard touchdown to give Auburn a 10-0 lead. Then Kerryon Johnson bulled his way in for his 13th touchdown of the season and Auburn went up 17-0. Another Carlson field goal followed, and the Tigers were up 20-0.
Then LSU started to come back. First, they drove deep thanks to a long run on a jet sweep by Russell Gage that picked up 70 yards. Stephen Sullivan fell over the goal line on fourth down a few plays later to put LSU on the board at 20-7.
Carlson added his third field goal of the game to give the visiting team a 23-7 advantage, but Danny Etling carved up Auburn’s defense and found Russell Gage for a diving touchdown to pull LSU within 23-14. We went to halftime with Auburn leading by nine, but with LSU fully in control of the game.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but early in the fourth, DJ Chark returned an Aidan Marshall punt 75 yards for a touchdown to turn the momentum completely in LSU’s favor, and bring LSU within two points. After that, Ed Orgeron played the field position game, and gave his redshirt freshman kicker a chance for two easy field goals late, both of which he hit to give LSU its first lead at 24-23, and then push them ahead by four at 27-23. The final field goal gave LSU enough of a lead in the final minute of the game that Auburn was unable to drive for a touchdown late. Jarrett Stidham was sacked on a 4th and 10 to end the game.
All in all, we played one good quarter. Kerryon Johnson was a workhorse with 156 yards and a touchdown, but the coaching staff insisted on using Kam Pettway when he’s either not healthy or the defense knows exactly what’s coming. The playcalling wasn’t as imaginative as it’s been over the past three weeks. There were few intermediate routes. It was only deep shots.
Where was Nate Craig-Myers? Darius Slayton dropped multiple passes. Sal Cannella got more targets today than he is in a while, but he didn’t make the most of those opportunities. Auburn committed uncharacteristic penalties all game long, and the defense made mistake after mistake in allowing LSU to hit the big plays. Simple jet sweeps went for big yardage and turned the momentum and flipped the field.
LSU deserved to win the game, and Auburn absolutely didn’t.
What this does is put serious doubts back in the minds of Auburn fans. What kind of a game was being called? It looked very Gus. It looked much like the Clemson game. We ran on first down time and time again instead of mixing things up. We didn’t gain any yardage in the second half. We threw at the same bedreadlocked LSU defensive back who obviously got imbued with evil voodoo magic devoted to pass breakups. What the hell?
That’s nine straight defeats to LSU in Tiger Stadium.
Heck, maybe we’re playing the long con. Maybe we’re just ensuring that Ed Orgeron will be the head coach there next year. Maybe.
We know that’s not true. We’ve seen this story before. So where does that leave us?
There will be a bunch of fans that say another similar loss to Clemson won’t be acceptable. This was like that awful night in the other Death Valley, except we had one really good quarter to show for it. Honestly, Gus needs to show us something.
That something has to be beating Georgia. That something has to be beating Alabama. That something has to be finding a way to reverse the kinds of things we’ve seen from him over the past three seasons and change.
How much leeway do we give him? You think that when Nick Saban’s the biggest obstacle (and he is) on your schedule, you don’t look at Coach O. You don’t think about Dan Mullen, Matt Luke, Bret Bielema, Jim McElwain, Butch Jones, Kirby Smart, etc. There’s only one actual real big dog in the SEC right now, and it shouldn’t be that hard to easily vault into second place in the league. We’ve got just as much talent as anyone except for Alabama right now. My God, we shouldn’t blow 20 point leads. For the offensive genius that Gus has been deemed to be, we shouldn’t go into these periods of inability.
Today was him coaching scared once we got up. This was him channeling Tuberville and the infamous Tubershell. We should’ve been able to roll this LSU team into the ground and put them to sleep before halftime. Obviously, it’s not all on the coaches. There were so many execution issues today as well. It was the perfect storm, but at the end of the day, the buck stops at the top.
This will be a tough one to swallow. Even when we devour Arkansas next week, it won’t feel right. You may have different standards, but for this season to be a success, we have to beat Georgia and Alabama. If we’d done those things with any sort of regularity over the past three seasons, there wouldn’t be such a high mark for my approval this year. Since we can’t seem to do it, that’s what we have to do this year. Otherwise, we need to reevaluate. End of story. We’re reaching a point where the right coach can dominate in such a fashion as another coach in the state has. He won’t be around that much longer. If you make the right choice, it could be you picking up the mantle.
We have five games to play. We’ll beat Arkansas. We’ll beat Louisiana-Monroe. We should beat Texas A&M, but a road game now scares me. If we lose to the Aggies, the Bulldogs, and the Tide, then Gus is gone and that’s all there is to it. 7-5 won’t cut it. And we shouldn’t accept that.