Auburn was smack dab in the middle of their six game winning streak over the Tide when a #8 ranked Alabama squad came to Jordan-Hare sporting a 9-1 record in 2005. Auburn sat at 8-2 having lost a dumb opener to Georgia Tech and a heartbreaker in Baton Rouge to LSU. The Crimson Tide still had some hopes of making it to Atlanta. They first needed to escape the Plains with a victory then hope the Arkansas Razorbacks would knock off LSU a week later.
While most Auburn fans might remember this game as the “Honk if you sacked Brodie” game, I personally remember it as the “Breadstick Game”. I kid you not. I was watching the game with one of my close friends and we ordered Dominos pizza and breadsticks. Every single time he took a bite from a breadstick Auburn either sacked Alabama or scored a touchdown. It was the most incredible feat I’ve ever witnessed.
Breadsticks aside, this was one of Tuberville’s patented Iron Bowl victories. One where Auburn dominated the game but the score didn’t properly show it. Auburn jumped out to a 21-0 lead after the 1st quarter and carried a 28-7 lead into half. They were then shutout in the 2nd half but Alabama could only muster 11 points of their own.
But the star of this game was Auburn’s defense. The Tigers sacked Brodie Croyle ELEVEN times that beautiful day. Tonight, we are gonna break down each and every single sack in glorious detail.
Sack #1 - Wayne Dickens
The opening play of the game set the tone. Alabama comes out in 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) in an ace wing formation. Right before the snap, Auburn’s defensive line slides away from the strength of the defense. This seems to confuse the Tide’s offensive line (a theme of the day) as Marquies Gunn is set free by the tight end and left tackle. Stanley McClover whoops Alabama’s right tackle over the top forcing Croyle up in the pocket but it’s big Wayne Dickens who gets the sack. After not blocking Gunn, Alabama’s left tackle (the infamous Chris Capps) slides down to double team Dickens with the left guard. Realizing he’s turned a man free, he tries to recover but at the exact same time the Tide’s left guard elects to help the center out. That leaves a straight path to the QB for Dickens.
Sack #2 - Quentin Groves
This time the Tide have 20 personnel (two backs, no tight ends) on the field and are in the Shotgun with twin wide receivers to the near side. The Tigers are showing blitz but nobody comes. Instead, McClover again gets the corner forcing Croyle up in the pocket. On the near side, Quentin Groves (RIP) is running a stunt with Gunn. He loops inside while Gunn powers his way out and drives the left guard into the left tackle freeing Groves for a free run to the QB. A thing of beauty.
Sack #3 - Quentin Groves / Marquies Gunn / Tommy Jackson
Facing 3rd and very long, the Tide once again are in the Shotgun with twins to the near side and two backs in the backfield. Auburn has their pass rushing specialist group in with Gunn shifted inside at DT and Groves at DE (like sack #2 above). AU runs a twist inside with Gunn and Jackson. Again, the Tide are slow to react. Gunn whoops the left guard inside, Jackson fights off the center looping around to the now vacant B gap, McClover again provides pressure from the top and Groves just shoves Capps into Croyle. The result is a party at the QB and another sack.
Sack #4 - Antarrious Williams
The linebackers decide to get into the action on this one. A well timed blitz catches the Tide completely by surprise. After motioning the tailback out wide, Alabama has only one man in the backfield to save Croyle from the backside blitz. That man decides to take Will Herring so that his QB can get drilled by the linebacker instead a safety. Good teammate right there.
Sack #5 - Tommy Jackson
The highlight jumps to the play having already begun but it’s pretty easy to see what happens. Big TJ Jackson just plows through Alabama’s center and rips poor Mr. Croyle down for the sack.
Sack #6 - Marquies Gunn / Stanley McClover
Another 3rd down for the Tide offense and that means trouble. Alabama motions into a tight bunch formation to the near side of the field with a single back lined up deep. Once again, the Tide decide to not block Marquies Gunn which is a great idea. McClover, once again, beats a Tide offensive tackle with a speed rush. The two then decide to meet at the quarterback.
Sack #7 - Stanley McClover
Again, we are late to the action so it’s hard to see all what’s happening on this play. What we do get to see is McClover darting inside the right tackle and punishing Croyle for his foolish decision to try and use a pump fake.
Sack #8 - Stanley McClover
It has officially become The Stanley McClover Show (no not the lame HBO one). The Tide start with trips bunched again at the top of the screen but motion a man across the formation. I’m sure they had some super snazzy play drawn up and that the motion was supposed to do something cool. However, whatever that play intended to accomplish, it apparently needed longer than the 2 seconds McClover would allow. #75 just runs right by the right tackle. The Tide had no answer for McClover when he lined up in a wide 9 technique. Too much speed.
Sack #9 - Stanley McClover
There’s that man again. McClover in a wide 9 technique just once again runs right by what’s supposed to be a blocker. I think where Capps screwed up was by telling McClover the snap count.
Sack #10 - Travis Williams
Auburn’s linebacker coach couldn’t let this game go by without adding his name to the sack ledger. This one is really a coverage sack though that stunt inside helped too. T-WILL comes on the blitz and is initially picked up by the back. However, great coverage paired with Gunn once again bulldozing his way through the interior forces Croyle out of the pocket. T-WILL tosses aside his blocker and makes the play.
Sack #11 - Antarrious Williams / Travis Williams
The final sack just feels like the appropriate way to finish this game. Here the Tide are with a chance to maybe actually make this a game facing 4th & 5. After being bullied by Stanley McClover most of the day, Chris Capps seems so worried about him that he’s slow off the snap and initially wants to chase McClover inside. But A-WILL (see what I did there) is coming on the weakside blitz once again. In just a few heartbeats, the young man realizes his error and tries to recover but is far too slow. At the same time, T-WILL comes looping around the strong side and finds a wide open path to the QB. A-WILL destroys whatever remains of Croyle’s soul while T-WILL buries the beaten body into it’s final resting place.
11 days till kickoff! War Eagle!