Wednesday, October 6, 2010
It seems it doesn't matter the opponent, the talking heads always have Auburn on upset alert. Remember how Mississippi State had a newly found swagger and were primed to pull the upset before a national audience...nice try, see you next year. Then everyone said Clemson would be ready to fight Auburn tooth and nail...and they were right, Clemson gave Auburn a tremendous test...a test Auburn passed to go 3-0. Then it became, "Well, Clemson exposed Auburn's weaknesses...we'll see how good Auburn really is against South Carolina!" Indeed we did, Auburn 4-0. Continually, Auburn's opponents are built up mightily...until the week of the game...then suddenly, "Auburn did it with smoke and mirrors" or "(insert opponent) gave the game away" or, better yet..."(insert opponent) was really terrible...(even after being blown up to be Goliath all week), we'll see how good Auburn is when they're really tested in October!"
So here we are, in October, on the road against Kentucky...a team that's beaten no one of significance, lost 2 consecutive SEC contests and what am I hearing. Why Auburn on upset alert of course! I believe strongly in respecting your opponent, in being prepared mentally against everyone, in the adage "on any given Saturday...". I played in too many close games against the Sisters of the Poor and won too many games in blow-out fashion against top 15 teams in my time at Auburn to understand how vital it is show up prepared and ready to battle. But, I just don't see a Kentucky team being able to play four quarters against this Auburn attack. Unless we gift wrap Kentucky field position with turnovers and penalties...I see the UK fans exiting stage left by the middle of the third. I could absolutely be mistaken, but I assure you...it won't be because of Kentucky's stellar play...it'll be because of Auburn's mistakes.
Last year's loss to UK hurt. It hurt bad. They waltzed into Jordan Hare with a true freshman, first time starter at QB and ran the football down Auburn's throat. There's no way this team has forgotten that game. I know how Coach Yoxall is and I assure you, they have constant reminders of scores, school colors, postgame statements, and even letters written and sent by fans of other schools posted throughout the weight room and locker room year round. They haven't forgotten...they remember vividly.
I'll be most interested in our ability to stop the run this week. If we force Kentucky into predictable situations by shutting down the running game, this one's no contest. If they're able to establish a ground game and keep our perimeter and LBs guessing, then we'll be in for a fist fight. Offensively, our biggest obstacle will be ourselves. If we can stay out of our own way then we should score at a minimum our yearly average of 36 points.
With Kentucky reeling from consecutive conference losses on the road this game looms large for them and we'll get their best shot early. The question becomes will we extinguish their will to compete or will we allow them life and hope to fight four quarters. They believe they can beat us as referenced by Dr. Z's investigative blogging he posted yesterday. If we're serious about competing for the SEC Championship, we don't toy around with Kentucky...we blow them out!