Introducing Dr. Griff Gordy, a great friend and fellow eye doctor/football nut. I asked him to give us a view from the other side.
When I was asked to do a guest blog preview of this year’s Iron Bowl I was a bit surprised, especially since it is for an Auburn Blog. However, it was explained to me that I am one of the more objective Bama fans and so I might be able to bring a realistic preview from a Bama fan. That was funny to me, “realistic” and “Bama fan” in the same sentence. I do own a pair of crimson colored shades, (I actually believe it is a prerequisite for being a true Alabama supporter) the interesting thing is that the heavy crimson tint has given way to a much lighter, clearer crimson shade over the years.
After getting married to the love of my life in April of 2008, watching my father lose his battle to cancer in April of 2009, and witnessing the purest miracle of God as my son was born in February 2010, the passion for college football has been put into a better perspective in my life. First and foremost I am a proud Christian and strive daily to serve Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. No Alabama or Auburn victory will ever be sweeter than the victory of Salvation we have through the Grace of our God!
I will step away from the pulpit now and get to the nitty-gritty. Iron Bowl 2010. We have some intriguing matchups this year: Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram versus Heisman hopeful Cam Newton, the genius offensive mind of Malzahn versus the tenacious defensive prowess of Saban, two electric WR’s Julio Jones and Darvin Adams versus two suspect defensive backfields. Also National Championship implications are on the line for the second straight year, as Auburn arrives 11-0 and ranked # 2 in the nation while Alabama comes in with a ‘disappointing’ 9-2 mark with no pressure and a nothing to lose mentality. Sounds a lot like last year’s matchup with a simple flip of the script. Much will be made of the outside frenzy surrounding Auburn and Cam Newton and speculations, allegations, etc. I will not spend any time on this subject because quite honestly I don’t feel it will have any outcome on this game. Auburn was not distracted one bit against Georgia so there is no way, in my mind, they will be focused on anything other than the Crimson Tide.
To me there are going to be three key factors to winning the game Friday: field position, turnovers, and the battle between the “big uglies” in the trenches. Let’s take a closer look at these areas.
Field Position: I noticed in the Auburn/LSU matchup that LSU was able to pin Auburn inside their 20 pretty much the entire game. If Bama can do the same, then I feel they have a pretty good chance of coming out on top. 80 and 90 yard drives are just a lot more difficult to execute over 50 yard drives any day. Bama must win the field position battle and force Auburn to work with a long field on offense. LSU proved that is a huge key to keeping the game close against Auburn.
Turnovers: This is an obvious one. Every game hinges on turnovers. Both teams have done a very good job of limiting their turnovers this year, especially in crucial situations. As a Bama fanatic, I am hopeful that Auburn feels a sense of loyalty to Mario Fannin and allows him a few more carries than normal because we know he is prone to cough it up at inopportune times. Otherwise, this is a toss-up. Whichever team can create the big play and force the change of possession will more than likely be walking away with bragging rights for the next 365 days.
The Big Uglies: Bama came into the preseason with high expectations up front on both sides of the ball. However, inconsistent play and season long nagging injuries have hampered the big men. Bama can salvage all of those expectations with a stellar performance this Friday. To me this is Auburn’s strength on both sides of the football. There is no question the anchor of the prolific AU offense is their down linemen. These guys are big, nasty, and absolutely know each other’s every move and thought. Although the AU D has been labeled as weak, the D-line for the Tigers pretty much wreaks havoc on opposing quarterbacks. What Auburn lacks in the secondary, they tend to make up for with their pass rush, especially with the game on the line. Against a banged up Bama O-line and a QB who struggles to throw the ball away, that could mean big trouble.
In my mind, the winner of this greatest rivalry in college football will be decided by these men in the trenches.
Bottom line is that Bama will come out with intensity and desire that has been lacking from this bunch earlier in the year. The Crimson Tide has nothing to lose this Friday and will be ready to spoil the Championship dreams of their nemesis. In front of 100,000 plus screaming fans in Bryant Denny Stadium, this will be the biggest test the Auburn Tigers will face all year (including games to come). The pressure to keep their record unblemished will be weighing heavily on the Tigers as well. If I step outside and allow my crimson colored “Transitions” shades to creep a little darker, I can see a Tide victory at the end of the day. However, the forecast is calling for cloudy and cold and my gut tells me that unfortunately, the Tide will feel similar around 5:00 Friday afternoon. Bama will put up a valiant effort, but the protection by the AU O-line and the pressure by the AU D-line will ultimately be too much for Bama to handle.
This Auburn team is on a mission identical to the mission my Crimson Tide was on this time last year. Auburn wears Bama down in the fourth quarter and wins 27-24. Will they hoist the crystal ball and Heisman trophy in the same year? Time will tell, but it would be pretty cool to have both awards in the state of Alabama in consecutive years.
Dr. Griff Gordy is a 2003 Graduate of UAB School of Optometry. He practices in Phenix City Alabama, where is he is a cult football hero. As a QB, he led the Red Devils to the 6A state title in 1993. He is kind of a big deal in PC (think Johnny Moxon from Varsity Blues).