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SNAP JUDGMENTS: #15 Auburn 22, South Carolina 30

NCAA Football: Auburn at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

So uh... Now what? After a last-second win against Arkansas last week, Auburn had hoped to settle in and pick up another win against an inferior opponent this week. Being 3-1 with a loss to Georgia is respectable when the rest of the college football world is on fire would have been just fine, right?

Not so fast my friend! After jumping out to an early lead, Auburn got into a midgame rut, and never recovered. Now we’re 2-2, and morale is at an all-time low in the Gus Malzahn era. Let’s see what the staff has to say about that:

- Josh Black

Thank goodness we don’t play Vanderbilt in 2020. that would be embarrassing.

- Josh Dub

I felt like going short on the recap, so I left this out. Developing a major college football program relies on doing three things, acquiring talent (i.e. recruiting), developing talent, and deploying talent (i.e. playcalling, play design, and your depth chart). The good coaches are really good at one of them. The great ones are good at two of them. For example, Nick Saban is elite at acquiring and developing talent, so he doesn’t have to be great at deploying talent.

When Gus Malzahn was hired, he put together a staff that was pretty good acquiring talent. He was not seen as a major developer of talent, but hopefully his position coaches could help in that area. He was seen as an elite deployer of talent though. He’d won a national championship with all of three draft picks. He nearly won another in his first season as Auburn’s head coach with a former Georgia cornerback playing quarterback. But the game has passed him by. Where are we now in those three phases?

- Talent Acquisition - This team has elite talent in certain areas, but other areas are not up to SEC standards. There have been major misses in either talent evaluation or recruiting that have led to a below average offensive line and an incredibly thin defensive line. Play along the line of scrimmage is the lifeblood of an SEC program, and Auburn is currently failing in that area.

- Talent Development - What little development of players has occured under Malzahn has stopped. Despite recruiting consistent blue chip talent at wide receiver, Auburn has just produced just one NFL-caliber receiver to this point (and to be honest, Darius Slayton’s NFL career has surprised most of us, considering his play in 2018 up until the bowl game). Bo Nix has not progressed since his first snap against Oregon. Sean White and Jeremy Johnson were both blue chip talents that went nowhere. Jarrett Stidham regressed in his second season. The defensive side has consistently developed quality talent for the NFL, but that’s not really Malzahn’s purview. I suppose he deserves some credit for getting out of the way of Kevin Steele, Travis Williams, and Wesley McGriff.

- Talent Deployment - The game has passed Gus Malzahn by. What was innovative in 2010 and 2013 is no longer novel. He supposedly gave up play-calling in 2016, only to still keep control of it as the season nosedived due to injuries. He gave it up again after hiring Chip Lindsey, but there were obviously still his fingerprints all over the 2018 offense. He took it back while hiring Kenny Dillingham in a move I supported, because [scroll up] he was elite at deploying talent when he was hired! This is your program! You got this job because of your skills as a play-caller and ability to manipulate defenses with motions and misdirection! Go down with the ship!

Instead, he hired Chad Morris, fresh off a complete failure at Arkansas, and handed him the keys to an offense filled with underclassmen behind an offensive line that was not capable of winning the SEC. What has resulted is an offense that is only consistent in being inconsistent, a defense that has lost two generational talents and wasn’t quite ready to just reload, and a fanbase that has completely lost faith in him.Auburn may win another game in 2020. They might even win 2 or 3 more. It doesn’t matter in the end, because we are on the downside of Gus Malzahn’s tenure. Recruiting will continue to fall off, and whether a change is made this year or next, a change will have to be made.Thank you Gus, but it’s time we parted ways.

- AU Jonesy

Bettiol returns to the Ronde van Vlaandren (tour of Flanders) as the reigning champion, but I really don’t think he stands much chance. As much as EF Pro Cycling would love to see him repeat, I think most people would call Mathieu Van Der Poel or Wout Van Aert the heavy favorites. The cobblestoned climbs, the beers, the frites, and the horrible weather—it’s one of, if not my favorite races of the calendar and I’m extremely excited to use it tomorrow morning to wash the stench of this American football game off my body.

- Son of Crow

Last week I said: Mom always told me if I didn’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all. So for the following: I’m sorry Mom.The end of the Gus Malzahn era is coming, it’s just a matter of when at this point. The when honestly might be happening sooner than we all had hoped for, especially from a financial perspective but can we really sit here and do this another 13 months? The defense has taken a step back which was to be expected but I will not sit here and go off on a defense that basically carried us the last 4 seasons while the offense was stuck in purgatory from a play-calling and strategy perspective.When your QB is quick to blame others when things go wrong when they can’t throw a screen, they constantly throw behind receivers and can’t hit the fastest guy in college on a deep ball, it’s time to look in the mirror and be accountable for your actions and stop living off being a legacy kid and that Oregon game which was 16 games ago!!! Yes, the receivers had drops today but the blame game should go both ways. The thing this year is who are you going to throw out there instead? The drop off between QB1 and QB2 is bigger than its ever been in the Malzahn era.And QB development has been non-existent in the Gus era from guys who have stepped on campus from the beginning.

And your best on offense is a true freshmen running back who needs more than 16 carries, and for the love of humanity, needs touches in the Red Zone!!! Tank Bigsby deserves better.Kicking Field Goals when you get in the Red Zone, especially inside the 10 very rarely end well for you and we kicked 3 today when we got inside the 20. This is a constant theme in Auburn losses the last several years.One of the most poignant lines in one of my favorite movies, Remember the Titans is this:“Attitude Reflects Leadership”I saw a lot of undisciplined plays, some jawing on the sidelines and deciding to wait until after the whistle to begin fighting.Ultimately, all of this falls back onto the coaching staff. The offensive line wasn’t bad today, but there was way too much Happy Feet going on. It’s time for some major changes and it probably needs to happen sooner rather than later.

- Will McLaughlin

- AU Chief