Sunday, October 18, 2009

14-21 Loss to Kentucky (as I vomit in my mouth) Review

That was difficult to watch. Not because we lost to Kentucky (I actually think they're an underrated team that's played a brutal SEC schedule). Our lack of basic football fundamentals (particularly on defense) makes my stomach turn and my tongue stray. Our tackling is atrocious. Absolutely awful! And our scheme was pathetic, bush league against a team starting a quarterback taking his first ever collegiate snap. Our offense wasn't much better either. For this offense to click, we must have a quarterback capable of delivering the ball...Chris Todd has been unable to get that done 2 weeks in a row now. False starts on 3rd and 1, overthrows, underthrows, throws into triple coverage, an illegal formation on 3rd and 6 on the final drive (running a gimmick play at that??), untimely 3 and outs, and offensively we beat ourselves. Kentucky's defensive gameplan was simple, we refuse to give up the big play and force you to sustain drives without making mistakes...we couldn't do it?!

My observations...

-Chris Todd is injured and has been since Tennessee. No, I don't have any inside information; this is complete conjecture on my part. But it's quite obvious Todd's arm is not what it was at the start of the season. Todd was hit after a throw and driven into the ground directly onto his throwing shoulder midway through the UT game. He got up with a tremendous grimace and a "dead arm" and I said to myself at the time, "He's hurt!". He finished that game, but I still find myself wondering if he reinjured that shoulder and is keeping it to himself to save his season (perhaps at the expense of Auburn's).

-#31 Herring is outmatched and a liability for the defense. I hate to say that, one because I don't like calling players out (except for quarterbacks), and two because he wears my number and is the lone white guy on the defense (two things to which I can relate). He can't get off blocks, he misses too many tackles, and he's a step slow. He's by no means the only reason Auburn allowed over 300 yards rushing to a team without a quarterback, but his play stood out as an obvious weakness. What does this say about Eltoro Freeman his back-up?

-Kodi Burns needs to run more and dance less. Contrast Kodi Burns taking a direct snap and running off tackle to Tim Tebow. Kodi dances and jukes desparately looking to avoid contact (you're not wearing your orange practice jersey on Saturdays Kodi). Tebow takes the snap and looks for someone to run over. Tebow looks ugly but gets results (positive yardage every time). Burns looks pretty but for every positive yardage play he counters with a negative. Just take the snap, find a hole, put your head down and get 4 yards!

-Ted Roof must get more creative. How in the world a team with a true freshman quarterback that threw worse than my eight year old daughter was able to come into our stadium and run the football when my four year old daughter knew what was coming is a complete mystery to me. Play man to man on the corners and put everyone else in the box. Tell Kentucky by your alignment that you're not going to run the football. You may beat us deep and if you do congrats, but take away what they want to do, the only thing they could do. LSU is similar to Kentucky in this regard (so is Bama). Blitz and play man and see if we can create a turnover or two.

-Offensive pass interference is no longer in the rule book (I guess). UK's first scoring drive was kept alive by a third down conversion in which Kentucky's receiver obviously pushed off on Demond Washington creating the separation necessary to make the catch. It was a pitiful no call and would have been flagged 100% of the time if roles were reversed. Maybe I'm sensitive to this as a former defensive back. And while we're on the topic of penalties, how Kentucky played an entire SEC game on the road without a single penalty called against them is comical as well.

-Chris Todd's decision making was poor. He threw into double, if not triple coverage on more than a handful of occasions making me cringe each time. How he escaped throwing but one pick was a miracle.

-It appears Pierre-Louis has decided the best way to hang on to his new role as punt returner is to not catch a punt at all. It beats fumbling but it also adds an extra first down our offense must convert each possession.

-Still don't understand how a team with so many depth problems can have a guy like Gabe McKenzie holding his helmet on the sideline. He must be done.

Even with all of the above miscues, we still should have won this football game. Unfortunately, the road gets tougher from here on out. LSU will be similar to Kentucky in style (only with better players at every position). To have a chance we need Todd to be healthy and mentally into it, and a defense that decides to start putting pressure on quarterbacks as opposed to ourselves.


  1. Tough analysis to hear Rob but an accurate one.

  2. The one penalty they did call on Kentucky was the five men in the backfield call before Kentucky's last TD, which would have been the correct call, IF the refs had not waved it off. These refs were absolutely terrible and seemed to be after the home team. I don't understand that. I tend to agree with your Todd theory. That was when the offense started going bad in the second half against Tennessee and hasn't been seen since then. Put Caudle in please or even Kodi. Kodi finally threw a good pass against Kentucky, for the first time all year, on time and leading the receiver. I'm starting to get that oh no, here we go again feeling, just like last year. Two weeks in a row that I haven't watched a single play of the whole game I taped, like I've done for years. I hope something starts to click, on offense, defense or special teams, just something please.

  3. .....I'm starting to wonder about Ted Roof, as well. We've played several green quarterbacks this year, and have gotten after none of them, scheme-wise. Is it Roof? Or Chizik? We blitzed, when Chizik was our coordinator, 2002-2004. They'd play cover-two, drop the middle linebacker ten yards deep, and send both outside linebackers. And they'd stem and shift on the line like crazy. You'd see panicky eyes from even experienced QBs like David Greene. Quarterbacks this year against Auburn have time to make a sandwich and take a nap, before getting rid of the ball. Time in the pocket is a sure way of building up the confidence of a young QB.

    .....On the other hand, it took the 2002 team about a half a season, to figure the Chizik defense out. There were some melt-down games like USC in Los Angeles, the Fred Talley beatdown we took at home against Arkansas, and the nickel/dime to death Florida game in Gainesville. They didn't really start to get it, till the surprise 31-7 win over LSU.

    Acid Reign

  4. I feel the same way as I did after returning from Nashville last season....I swear Todd's shoulder seems to be bothering him.... with this D-line and Linebackers corps, I have a feeling we're about to see LSU's offense "suddenly" wake up, and the bammer duo may run for 400 yds and McElroy may not throw a pass the entire game...

  5. like the honesty. refreshing from a former player. also like seeing more commenters each week.

    Malzahn - poor plan again. no mix or flow to his play calls. 3-4 straight runs or 3-4 straight passes.

    Todd - he had a bad night, but the WRs didn't help him any. DA had several drops and got himself nailed due to poor routes. Specifically, a 3rd down in the 1st half where he drifted back on a stop route and got himself nailed and the ball dislodged.

    WRs - speaking of routes, do we have any intermediate other than stops? a slant perhaps? seems everything is at the line or 20 yards down field? How about something that they can catch on the run or in the middle of the field?

    WRs (cont'd) - for all of the Trooper hype, why can't we find another legit receiver?? Trott is a waste out there and Fannin just isn't a legit reciever. Sorry, i know how loved he is. Can we not get someone ready between Blake, Benton, or Hawthorne?

    HC - finally, the head man. This is the first game that i have questioned Chizik's ability. 1) i thought at the end of the 3rd, after the rash of penalties, bring the whole team together for a wake-up call. 2) i think he is going too far out of his way to "not be a meddler". That swinging gate play should have never happened in that situation. You don't go there with the game on the line (this btw, was a sign that malzahn is not ready to be a HC).I think it is time for Chizik to get mad. From what i've seen he has spent the last 8 months being these guys psychologist. Time to get in some faces.

    i have a ton of other thoughts, but i should probably do some work at some point today. ya'll have a good one.

  6. Gabe McKenzie played many snaps as second string DE against Kentucky. That's the first meaningful minutes I've seen for him all year. I assume that will go away when Clayton is healthy enough to play.

  7. I am a huge Auburn fan. This is one of the most eye opening blogs I've read this season. Btw-I remember well when you played for us Rob and reading your opinions really carries weight with me. (My father played for Coach Jordan as a side note.) Thank you for telling it like it is. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Roof. I'm not ready to throw him under the bus by any means but do you think if he had a significant talent upgrade he'd be capable of being a quality DC? I really thought Chizik was excellent when he was the DC.
    War Eagle!

  8. POUND THE BALL AUBURN. DWWD! Our man Tate is racking up yards on our 2 game skid. Feed the beast malzahn...are you listening?? I agree that something is off with Todd, or at least I hope that's the problem. We have got to keep pounding with our backs until they stop us. Kodi has gotten too cute in the wildcat package or rather is trying to force things. Get him out and just direct snap to Tate, Fannin, McCalleb or Smith. They know kodi isn't throwing so why beat around the bush? Also has anyone noticed that our playcalling has begun to run/pass the ball sideline to sideline instead of vertically? Is this malzahn or todd audibling? What happened to those sweet lil 20 yard passes to Soft Hands Smith. That dude can catch and we quit throwing to him. Defense...just put toro in there. clearly neither knows what they are doing so just put the more athletic, meaner guy in there and set him to kill mode. Roof, blitzing is about more than just calling the blitz. We must teach our guys to blitz. There is a fine art to the blitz that involves deception and timing. We either need to bring MORE than they can block or tell the LBs or whomever to wait a split second before charging into the line. Bynes did it perfect in the UK game once that I saw. He allowed the o line to pick up everyone and then he shot thru a gap unopposed to the QB and hit him. That is why no one thinks we are blitzing. No one gets to the QB. Time and again I see demond washington or someone else come on the blitz only to run into the back of our D lineman. You gotta delay a second and hit the seam guys. I love Auburn and hate to see this. I thought we had turned the corner from last season and still think we can. We have secured our role as underdog for the remainder of the season (save furman game) and that seems to be when we play best. Give the staff some time. They will get the personnel together. All I ever heard was that Roof was an aggresive D coach, but if you don't have the bodies to chase the QB all night or cover downfield all night, you just don't have it. I agree some schemes should change, like sell out to stop the run for now, but I think things will get better when we add depth. War Eagle

  9. I agree with everything except the PPL thing. He had his heels at the 10 yard line. Kicks over his head, and Im sure he was taught to do this as is ever PR in the world, you run away from so that the ball goes into the endzone, and if it doesnt, you are now out of the way in case it bounces back and cannot hit you becoming a live ball. PPL cant help that the ball lands inside the 5 yard line and just stick to the grass like velcro.

  10. You all are very perceptive and knowledgeable AU fans (makes me wonder how many times you noticed my many faults on gamedays!!).

    To answer a few questions...

    Roof- I think with added depth and incremental talent upgrades Roof can be an above average SEC D-Coordinator. It's really unfair to make any lasting judgements on any of our coaches with the numbers, thus practice philosophy, being as it is. Word on the street was Roof was an ultra-agressive coordinator, with defenses creating numerous turnovers and the occasional big play. I've yet to see anything that resembles this, but as with anything takes time before a comfort level is reached (both with players running the schemes, and the coaches having confidence the players can execute). I'll reserve judgement on Coach Roof until next season, however, we'll see what type of schematic changes and personnel groupings he can alter as he attempts to bring about positive change this season.

    Did not notice McKenzie on the field but glad to hear it. Hope he's capable of making a significant contribution soon.

    Brent- I'm just as surprised as you about not being able to bring along a few more receivers. I thought Hawthorne was set for a break out year and hoped Trott would contribute significantly this year. Neither's been the case and it's disappointing.

  11. "makes me wonder how many times you noticed my many faults on gamedays!!"

    well, the 97 LSU game was on espn classic last night and i've got a few bones to pick...j/k.

    seriously, what was it like trying to tackle cecil collins?

    yeah, i feel really bad for TH. he has just had a career of bad breaks. this season has been a waste for him and i hope there is some possibility for a redshirt. (haven't noticed if he has been on special teams lately)

  12. We played against some unbelievable talent in 1997.
    Here was the list of RBs/QBs we faced that year.

    Virginia-Thomas Jones, Aaron Brooks
    Ole Miss-Deuce McAllister
    LSU-Kevin Faulk, Cecil Collins
    Central Florida-Dante Culpepper
    South Carolina-Anthony Wright, Troy Hambrick (Emmitt Smith's backup)
    La Tech-Tim Rattay, Troy Edwards (WR)
    Florida-Fred Taylor, Jaquez Green
    State-JJ Johnson
    Georgia-Robert Edwards, Hine Ward, Champ Bailey
    Alabama-Shaun Alexander
    Tennesse-Jamal Lewis, Shawn Brysom, Peyton Manning, Peerless Price, Marcus Nash