We may look back on today and see the actual turning point of the program. Now, this isn’t a good thing to have to endure. It’s like pulling a rotten tooth. It sucks in the moment, and for a little while afterward, but it’s necessary for the future. Auburn has already gotten rid of pieces of an athletic department that didn’t understand what’s necessary to win in our position.
SEC football is a different game, and this current marriage seemed disjointed from the get-go. Nobody was on the same page, and now we have a chance to change that. Unfortunately, the players who had nothing to do with situation have to eat the crap for a while to help get us through this change. You can feel that #vibes in this locker room are not good at the moment, and there are a couple of different routes this whole ordeal takes.
We could get smashed today, still reeling from the Penn State game, and Bryan Harsin doesn’t end up getting to go into the locker room — Herm Edwards style.
We could lose a close one, or win, and he’ll probably stick around, and we’ll have the weirdest game possible against LSU next week. Then he gets the axe in Athens after Kirby names his score.
It’s a weird feeling when you know it’s over, but the split hasn’t actually happened yet. All in all, it’s a chance to get better, you know... a 1-0 mentality type of thing.
WHEN MISSOURI HAS THE BALL: The golden Tigers are right down there at the bottom of the SEC with us in a bunch of categories, and they’re still a bit of a mystery. Two games against Louisiana Tech and Abilene Christian don’t really tell you much, and the loss against Kansas State is such a different story that it reminds me of another team. Us.
Blowing out one overmatched cupcake, struggling a bit with another, and then getting blasted by the only P5 team you play? We’re mirror images.
Brady Cook has a couple of solid weapons to deal to in Dominic Lovett and Luther Burden, while the running game has some guys that will spread the carries around pretty evenly. Cook included, you’ve also got Cody Schrader, Nathaniel Peat, and Elijah Cook (questionable for this one). Cook is pretty elusive, averaging over six yards per carry.
However, they’ve got offensive line problems just like we do. Either this turns into a shootout somehow, or we end up looking like a pair of Iowas gumming each other to death.
WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL: This is going to be an interesting day.
T.J. Finley — OUT.
Zach Calzada — OUT.
Robby Ashford — QB1
Holden Gerine — QB2
Finley sustained a shoulder injury late last week, and Calzada saw the writing on the wall I guess, and opted for season-ending shoulder surgery. What we’re going to see is the Wildcat offense in effect, with a little splash of a pure passing offense with Geriner. Who knows what kind of a split the quarterbacks are dealt, but I would hope that they don’t have any sort of real effect on the game.
This should be all about the tailbacks for Auburn, getting back to the basics with Tank and Jarquez. They’re two of the only guys that have really deserved it on offense, and we should ride them as much as possible. I know that we’re going to have a repeat performance from Tank in Athens in a couple weeks like he had in 2020, trying to will the offense to gain yards. We can get him in an actual rhythm today.
Personally, this is going to be an interesting day for nothing else than what they can cobble together with this QB combo. How do they respond after last week? What can we do about the turnovers? Man, I dunno. But we’re going to see something.
SERIES HISTORY: Auburn leads the all-time series 2-1, winning a pair of consecutive games after losing the first meeting in 1973. The good Tigers won the 2013 SEC Championship Game 59-42 to advance to the BCS National Championship before visiting CoMo in 2017 for another big win. This will be Missouri’s first trip to the Plains, ten years after joining the conference.
LAST MEETING: Auburn has had good success with Missouri since they joined the league in 2012. The Tigers and Tigers have met twice, but the most recent meeting came in 2017 when Auburn won the SEC West. Missouri got the business end of a healthy Kerryon Johnson (who scored 5 touchdowns in CoMo), and an efficient Jarrett Stidham, who went 13-17 for 218 yards and a 57-yard score to Nate Craig-Myers. Auburn won 51-14.
LAST WEEK: Uh, gross. Auburn lost 41-12 to Penn State. Hey, that’s show biz. Missouri meanwhile beat Abilene Christian 34-17.
TUCKER GREGG AWARD CANDIDATE: Missouri doesn’t exactly have the group of dudes with that dog in them that we’re going to be seeing later on in the conference schedule. That said, we’re probably going to be wringing our hands watching Dominic Lovett catch some passes. Everyone else has had success throwing against our secondary (save for Jaylin Simpson), and I don’t expect that anything else should change here.
RANDOM PREDICTION WITH NO BASIS IN REALITY: Robby Ashford has 2 long touchdown runs (35+ yards each) and 2 interceptions.
KEYS FOR AUBURN:
- Run the ball. And don’t stop. I can’t believe that this has to be a key, but when Tank Bigsby only gets 6 carries in the first half and 9 carries total (11 touches overall), you have to go back to the basics. Jarquez Hunter was effective, but he only had 8 touches overall as well. Auburn threw the ball 38 times last week, obviously things change when you get down and you’ve got to try and pick up big yardage to get back in the game, but man. Missouri was gashed by Kansas State, particularly in the quarterback run game, and Auburn needs to have one of those classic Nick Marshall type of games where we throw it 8 times.
- Figure out the turnovers. If you’re throwing the ball single-digit times today, then the chance that we throw 2 interceptions is diminished, but... I don’t know what this quarterback crew is truly capable of. Now when we’ve got Robby Ashford as the starter and Holden Geriner looking to get his first collegiate action with both T.J. Finley and Zach Calzada OUT for the game (and maybe more), we need to see a more rational plan on offense. Put the quarterbacks in safe situations, and dumb down the offense enough to let our athletes win against theirs.
- If you’re there, cheer hard for the players. I can’t pretend that there won’t likely be fans today who might actually be pulling for a loss so that we can end this whole Bryan Harsin situation by church on Sunday morning. However, there are going to be special guys on the field inside Jordan-Hare for only a handful of times, and it’s unlikely Harsin makes it much longer even if he wins today. You’re going to be pulling for Derick Hall, Tank, Jarquez, Owen, Colby, Anders, and many others who have earned your support, even if the head coach hasn’t.