In the next few days, the Auburn Tigers will be reaching the halfway point of their 2016 season. It is something like this that is always so hard for me to grasp initially and by the time I do, Auburn is heading into the final week of the season, and then it is over. After months and months of waiting and debating, moments of patience and anxiety, all of it comes to a head and snap, that's it. Last one out remember to get the lights.
It's hard for me to say at this point in time whether or not this Auburn team is making the positive steps forward I was hoping the team would accomplish this season. What feels like for every step forward there's an equal step backward what amounts to essentially being stuck in the mud. We all know because we can all see it; the best defense fielded in nearly a decade and an offense that can't seem to get out of its own way.
The latter, of course, is the most frustrating as it involves a man who has made a name and career for himself by reinventing and reinvigorating old schemes and plays and applying them to the modern game. Now, if you think it is frustrating to see this struggle imagine, for a moment, how frustrating it is to be in that struggle. I honestly doubt Gus & Co. spend a whole week plotting and planning for a game, hit the field on Saturday, see that what they were intending isn't working and say, "Yep, this is exactly what we were wanting to happen."
I can't for the life of me explain nor excuse what transpired during the Clemson game. Same goes for the Texas A&M and LSU tilts as well. There is a struggle taking place and one not easy to come to terms with, especially after waiting eight months. Thankfully, the season is longer than six weeks and this team nor the staff seem like they are settling in for another bad year. Remember, these guys don't want to lose and they are not in the position they are in now because they like to lose.
But this is the point we are at as fans as Auburn hits the road for the first time this season. You are either thumbs up with one hand still on the wheel, but your heart is racing or you have had enough and you've let go of that wheel just waiting/wanting this thing to careen off the cliff. I can't tell you how to feel about this season thus far and that is never my intention with the space I was so graciously given here. I can try and make my best guess, but I've been so wrong in the past I figured all of you have to be sick of that by now.
This isn't easy and I can't remember a time when being a fan of this team was ever easy. Honestly, I'm not sure if I want it to be easy either. What I do know is that I do not want to fight with my fellow fans about this team. Yeah, we can disagree, but I'm not going to fight you over coaching decisions or who does and who doesn't play. Those are things beyond any of our control. At some point, we all need to come to terms with that.
Are you still actually reading this?
If you are, Auburn plays Mississippi State this weekend at 11:00 AM. For some reason, I got confused and thought that was next week. My bad to everyone I told that this was the bye week. Anyway, this is going to be kind of a tough game not only because of the early time slot but as MSU matches up pretty well with our Tigers. A big concern of mine is that the Bulldogs have registered quite a few tackles for loss. Auburn's offensive line has struggled, mightily at times, and it is not going to get any easier with A.J. Jefferson coming at them.
Another concern regarding CLANGA is they are scoring a lot of points in the second half. Yes, granted a lot of those points are in comebacks and what kind of team in this league needs to score 28 points in the third quarter against UMass to get ahead? That is bothersome for Auburn because the Tigers' third quarter performance against winning FBS teams so far this season has been, well...not great. If this stays true to form, and oh please don't let it, then Auburn could be in for a rough Saturday afternoon.
Typically, the third quarter is when Auburn comes out throwing and Mississippi State's passing defense isn't doing so well this season. Obviously, protecting White and the receivers getting open fast is going to be absolutely crucial in this game. Even more so if both teams have slow first half starts. Auburn's defense might be enough to give our Tigers the edge, but they are more than likely going to be leaned on more heavily than we would like.
I have no doubts that Auburn can pull off a win down in Starkville, but it's probably not going to be pretty.