Normally I’d write down some thoughts the day after the game (hence the ‘About Last Night’ title), but I’m in the process of moving, and the old lady that previously lived in the house we just bought never had internet.
The house wasn’t even wired for it! This place wasn’t built in the mid-1900s either, it’s only a 30-year old building! She never even got cable TV because the gossip on the party line was too much to handle. Anyway, there have been some delays with certain modern amenities in this part of the world.
It honestly seemed that way in Gainesville on Saturday afternoon for the Auburn offense. We know the quickest way to receive information now is through the internet, but you have to be careful. Much of what you read has been said to be “fake” per some, and it’s not just a boast, that’s a real threat. College football is the same way in many regards.
“Did you hear that Florida’s defensive line has 24 sacks already this season??”
“Yeah, but it was against Towwwwwwwwwwwson and the crappy Hurricanes!”
Getting sacks and being a good defensive line is hard, no matter who you play, and after watching the Gators push around our offensive line on Saturday, I have to believe that some of us — myself included — bought into the fake news that Florida wasn’t very good because they hadn’t played anyone. They were out to prove the falsity of that statement from the very first snap, when Bo Nix barely took the snap before he had a defensive end in his face.
It was like that all afternoon, and even when Auburn finally did make some hay on offense, our best drive ended in an interception in the end zone. You could tell that Gus Malzahn was frustrated with his true freshman quarterback. He missed some really important throws that we’ve seen him make multiple times already this season. A couple of those throws being on-target likely means an Auburn win. So does Derrick Brown not catching a wild shoelace and tripping with a convoy of blockers around him as he strode toward the end zone. What about the normally sure-tackling K.J. Britt getting stoned and allowing the 88-yard touchdown from Perine? Change one of those things and the game is very different.
If we look at these things as a whole, it’s frustrating! Some might say it’s the beauty of football, especially college football, to have wacky happenings dictate the outcome of a game. Sometimes the ball bounces a certain way and sometimes the better team loses. Is Auburn the better team? Maybe... on Saturday, Florida was. And that’s okay! If there were any Auburn fans not currentl co-hosting Orange and True who thought we would go undefeated, then you were lying to yourself somehow. The schedule is outrageous, and if a magic genie had granted you a guarantee that Auburn would be 5-1 with a close and frustrating loss in Gainesville at this point, you might not even want the other two wishes.
Personally, and this is just a parallel that I noticed, but that game reminded me of the 2016 Texas A&M game in Auburn. Maybe it was the first snap of the game, where someone decided that it would be a good idea not to block Myles Garrett and let Sean White figure it out, but things looked awfully similar. White threw for 127 yards in that game and averaged 4.7 yards per attempt. He didn’t have the turnovers that Nix did on Saturday, but it was a tepid offensive performance with unimaginative play-calling. Similar to Saturday for sure.
I think that might be the biggest thing to me as well — it didn’t seem like the offense had anything ready for Florida! It looked like we just said “line up and take it to ‘em”, but there’s were better than our’n that day and you have to be a little more creative. We were terrible on third down, and rarely did we ever get something more exotic than a Boobee Whitlow run up the middle. There was one attempt to get the ball to Anthony Schwartz, and no Joey Gatewood package at all. I can’t imagine that we used up everything we had on Mississippi State, but we might as well have.
As for Bo Nix, if you’re placing the blame on him, you’re probably right. I think he’d be the first person to tell you that he missed the throws he needed to make, and that those throws probably would have been the difference in the game. Something interesting came up in the group chat though, and that was that there’s only one Auburn quarterback to never cost the Tigers a game, and his name is Cam Newton. Bo will get better, and when we have him seasoned and playing in front of a raucous home crowd, look out.
It’s going to be a little while before we return home, though. We’ve got two games left before a four-game home swing to finish the season, and the first may be just what the doctor ordered. Gus has only lost once to Arkansas, and that was in the rain on the road in four overtimes. I’ll allow it.
Let’s all take this week, watch everyone else put it on the line, and come back ready for Fayetteville in two Saturdays. Don’t all jump off the Bus at once, now. War Eagle.