Sunday, September 5, 2010
Arkansas State Review: AU 52 Ark St. 26
Photo courtesy of Hal Yeager, The Birmingham News
I saw lots of positives and much to build upon in Auburn's opener against Arkansas State. It obviously wasn't perfect all night, but all in all I see a team with enormous potential to accomplish some incredible feats this season.
What I liked...
-Cam Newton's ability to improvise
-Tons of defensive linemen rotating into the game
-Craig Sanders desire covering kicks
-The trio of McCalebb, Fannin, and Dyer. As a former safety, I would not have looked forward to playing against that trio all night.
-The run defense was extremely solid
-Q. Carr's confidence fielding punts as well as emerging as another offensive and punt return weapon teams must account for.
What I disliked..
-The slow start to begin both halves. Better teams will make you pay in a hurry (See Arkansas 2009).
-Fannin's continued case of fumblitis
-No turnovers against a pass-happy team new to the spread with a young quarterback.
-Tempo not as quick as what I observed in practice
I'm hearing/reading lots of concerns about the defense (i.e. poor tackling, no pressure, too many points against a no-name team, etc.). Don't worry about the defense...at least not yet. I think this group is different than last years and will improve week to week instead of regress. Much of that will be due to these guys pushing each other in practice for playing time because many positions have back-ups nipping at the starters heels. This defense was mostly vanilla and did a better job tackling than what I saw last season. The safeties seemed to have the hardest time with blown assignments and missed tackles, but this will improve dramatically I'm confident. A broken leg, a ruptured achilles, and a freaking broken neck have hampered each of these three respectivley and this game will go a long way in getting their feet wet once again and re-aquainting themselves with the speed of the game. We also played without arguably our best linebacker in Craig Stevens. With his return from suspension (hopefully this week) we will only improve.
And offensively we are in excellent shape. We have the most dynamic quarterback in the conference, if not the country in Cam Newton. Things will get dramatically more difficult in the coming weeks, but he is obviously a special talent and is surrounded with experienced weapons en masse.
Overall, good initial perfomance...not great. But definitely see a team with all the ability in the world to accomplish all the goals these guys have set. Could be a special year.