Sunday, November 29, 2009

Alabama Review: The Tide...It is a Turning!

I don't know if I've ever felt prouder of a team in defeat. The Auburn Tigers left their guts on the football field Friday and as a guy who recognizes maximum effort being given, the team with minimal to no depth played their hearts out and nearly pulled a stunner! Am I claiming a moral victory? Absolutely not! I'm claiming the Auburn Tigers fought like champions and led against a team that has steamrolled virtually every opponent it has played this season. They were fearless, aggressive, and united in the purpose of defeating an arch-rival, a team no one thought they could play with...not even their opponent. Alabama did what great teams do...they weathered an early onslaught, and went on a do-or-die drive converting multiple 3rd down attempts to win the football game in the end. When they had to have it, they delivered...and teams with depth and talent like they have have that capability. What this game displayed is the gap between the programs has narrowed considerably in one season...that's what made us proud! Losing this game is still a bitter pill to swallow. But, when even Alabama's band members felt silly singing "we just beat the hell out you!" as is tradition in post-game, you know you've garnered respect! They may not admit it...rephrase...they'll never admit it, but deep down they know, Alabama has no place else to go but down...and Auburn is on the rise!!

What I saw...

1. Auburn sold out to stop the run and was going to force Greg McElroy to beat them. They stymied the run better than anyone could have ever dreamed, but unfortunately, McElroy played well above his head and was mistake free.

2. McElroy- when he blew kisses in the direction of the Auburn faithful after throwing a TD pass to his tight end, I wish I could have jumped through the television set and do what Daren Bates did to him later in the game (a flying helmet to the throat)!

3. Daren Bates- his hit on McElroy was vicious and if he played on Sundays he'd be fined his whole game check. That being said...YOU DA MAN!

4. Who's the state's best back? Is it Ben Tate or Mark Ingram? Neither had a game they'll talk to their grandkids about one day. In fact, Trent Richardson was Alabama's saving grace. I think the perfect person to answer this question would be a common foe, a perennial all-everything defensive back from Tennessee in Eric Berry. You remember Eric Berry as the UT defender Ben Tate sent into the second row of Neyland on his way to 128 yards. He seems like a qualified candidate to settle the issue. Would he say Ben Tate? I'm not sure. What I do know is if I were fielding a team today who I'd take...and his last name rhymes with mine.

5. Alabama's decision to change its offensive set to spread Auburn out and throw 5-10yard routes was a good move on their part. It forced our extra defender out of the box (which surprisingly did nothing to help their run game) but it got McElroy in rhythm and settled the Alabama offense down.

6. Kudos to Johnathan Evans, true freshman reserve to Eltoro Freeman, for filling in admirably. He was out of position on a few 3rd down conversions covering backs out of the backfield and dropping into passing lanes, but all in all the kid played his tail off and made us proud.

Finally, the bowl game is huge for Auburn. Not the game itself but rather the preparation and practice time. It truly is equivalent to two spring trainings and the time spent on the field is critical to next seasons hard as that might be to imagine. For a team looking to add/build depth at critical positions and turn the reigns over at others this is where it gets done.


  1. Rob, I agree with all points; however it is hard to overlook the opportunities Auburn missed on Friday. Chris Todd has done an admirable job this year but if he hit Tommy Trott across the middle on our third possession it would have put Auburn in field goal position at least. In the third quarter, if the pass in the flat to Fannin is on target he picks up 20 + yard, again at least field goal position. I respect Todd for coming back and being the leader he has been, and Auburn people should always remember him fondly but those two miscues cost us on Friday. And lastly if the offensive line picks up just one more blitz it likely leads to another big play.

    I like the direction of our program and I think we have a coaching staff in place that knows how to get a team ready to play in big games, i.e. UT, Ole Miss, UGA, and UAT, when we have the execution to go with schemes and preparation it should be a sight to see.

  2. Players grow up a lot between year 1 and year 2. I hope that Malzahn's play calling ability improves in the same way. I worry that our offense has fallen off the mas when we get off the scripted plays. but, CGM isn't used to having to substitute at all between plays so i am more than willing to give him time to get his "guys" into the system.

    Rob you summed up the feeling pretty well. no moral victories but certainly nothing to be ashamed of. "Humble in victory. Proud in defeat."

    Now it looks like we are off to shreveport (what a mess the bowl picture is) to play aTm or maybe even Iowa State.

  3. Its great to read a former players perspective. Espically from one "who gave it all" on the field. These posts have been a great read---you guys keep it up!