Sunday, September 19, 2010
Clemson Review (AU 27 Clemson 24 OT)
This was an outstanding play by Demond Washington and an unfortunate anticipation pass interference call by the referee. That call kept Clemson alive after momentum had swung to Auburn.
Great win against a hungry Clemson team eager to prove its worth and playing for the pride of its beleaguered conference. Clemson looks to be the class of the ACC and gave Auburn more than I personally thought they could. I knew with the Alabama influence of its coaching staff these guys would have their team chomping at the bit to win in Auburn. What surprised me was the physicality Clemson played with. Regardless, what matters is we survived and advance with another win and move on to play the Palmetto state's best football team with even more on the line.
-Darvin Adams continues to impress and is as confident and skillful a WR Auburn has had perhaps ever.
-Resiliency...coming out of the locker room down two touchdowns and absolutely exploding in the third quarter was a sight to behold. Credit to the coaches for halftime adjustments, but really to the leadership on this team for not allowing their teammates to quit. Overcoming a 17-0 deficit and scoring 24 unanswered speaks to this teams character and bodes well for them in the immediate future. Should they fall behind in the weeks to come, this game will pay enormous dividends in the psyche of this relatively young team.
-Athleticism of Newton. He made a few throws he'd like to take back, but my confidence with him leading the offense is sky high. He'll only improve and gain more confidence with each passing week and I would personally not look forward to competing against him.
-Wes Byrum! Smooth as silk! Money!
-The crowd noise. Wasn't there but it looked to be a raucous atmosphere and played beautifully on ESPN. Not a big fan of the blue shakers though.
-Allowing Clemson to take the opening kickoff and march it 80 yards down our throats. We did not come out flat...we just got whipped at the line of scrimmage and couldn't get off the field on third downs. Of course, Clemson has probably been preparing for Auburn for 3 weeks and I'm sure added wrinkles we'd never seen. Even so, third down has to create an urgency to get off the field and we just couldn't do it. That was disappointing.
-Newton's inability or unwillingness to check down to an intermediate or dump off back/receiver. He has an all or none mentality which put us in some difficult third and long situations and/or put the defense back on the field quickly. We have to be able to sustain some drives by dumping the ball off on occasion. I love the big plays, but pick and choose your opportunities wisely...when it's not there, 5 yard gainers will move the sticks and keep that defense happy sipping Gatorade.
-Third week in a row we bring a first down inside the 15 back because of a holding penalty. Untimely penalties are becoming the norm.
-Offensive line was man-handled in the first half. This group should be dominating defensive fronts, but for whatever reason it's not happening. The loss of Greene doesn't make things any easier either.
-Too many busted coverages by our safeties, Etheredge particularly. I know he will improve weekly but he got caught several times out of position, including the unbelievable diving TD grab just before half he was fooled on.
-Punt return yards. Love that we fielded every punt cleanly. Wish we flipped the field on occasion to give the offense a short field to work with.
-Too much East/West running with tailbacks. Doesn't work so well when you play equally talented opposition. How many first and 10s became second and 16 because of lateral plays diagnosed defensively by Clemson.
Like I said last week, by tomorrow, no one remembers the score of this one...only that Auburn has 3 W's and 0 L's. We do have a long way to go however. We've got to be tougher defending the run and less apt to break down in pass coverage. We've got to be more dominant with our senior-laden offensive line and win the war running the football. We've got to develop a downhill running attack with Mike Dyer and limit the sideways stuff. We've got to stop killing drives with self-inflicted mistakes (inopportune penalties, INTs, etc.). We've got to come out the gate swinging for the chin of the opponent to begin each half of play. We've got to understand the importance of getting off the football field on third down defensively and develop a sense of urgency in those situations. Lots to work on. Another huge challenge awaits.