Sunday, November 14, 2010
Georgia Review (AU 49 UGA 31): Western Division Champs!
Another reason to give Coach Gene Chizik the National Coach of the Year Award after preparing this Auburn team in the midst of the mind-boggling media assault his team, and his team leader endured. Even more remarkable to fall behind by two touchdowns only to weather the storm and methodically march down the field and regain control of the football game. And Cam Newton...what else can you say? No superlative I can conjure can adequately convey Cam's worth to this team or his athleticism, both on the ground and through the air. The zip on his passes...WHOA! The accuracy...scary! He didn't throw a single bad ball and really makes those who question his ability through the air look silly. I thought Georgia defended Cam and our offense better than anyone this season...and we still rushed for over 300 yards (Cam going for 150) and chewed up clock, huge chunks at a time. In fact, we never threw a pass the entire third quarter! That's when you know you've got an offensive line that's dominant (and it doesn't hurt to have the best athlete playing quarterback maybe in the history of college football).
Defensively...well, that's another story. Truth be told, we really played poor enough to lose the football game. Once again we allow a young quarterback (talented no doubt) to come into our stadium and look like a Heisman contender. Nick Fairley's dominance has come to be expected and he didn't disappoint in this one (he did have some questionable hits on the Georgia QB however). But our secondary just doesn't have the skill to compete with the nations elite WR A.J. Green. It was a man amongst boys and lucky for Auburn we have an offense that has the ability to become our best defense...outscoring you and/or running the football, and clock, at will. Several times we were out of position, out-flanked, poorly aligned and never had a chance simply because of alignment. Combine that with poor technique and I really don't blame the players...I blame the coordinator. We are too good against the run and too talented overall to allow offenses to continue to be successful...even with our shortcomings in the secondary. They do however, come up with enough stops, enough big plays, enough pressure, to win football games...and in the end that's what matters most.
1. Onsides kick to start the second half. That takes a lot of guts to make that call, particularly when your defense has yet to stop their offense. Flawlessly executed by Wes and the wedge of headhunters on the kickoff team clearing the way. Of course, if we don't execute, Georgia recovers and goes on to score...we rake Coach Chizik over the coals for the call?!
2. Kickoff coverage. The return man for UGA is a weapon we never let get loose. In fact, we drilled him repeatedly inside the 20 yard line with multiple guys completely selling out, giving up their bodies to force the opposition to go 80 yards to score. It's hidden yardage and we're better at covering kicks than any team I've seen this season. Even Darvin Adams was in on a few tackles! And Craig Sanders and Demetruce McNeal continue their season of wreaking havoc on special teams coaches throughout the SEC.
3. Blocking. Lee Ziemba completely annihilated defenders all day. Our wideouts are ferocious in their down field blocking, springing many plays for long gainers. It's a testament to the importance placed on each individuals role and what is emphasized in practice.
4. Fan support. I played on some good teams and in front of some raucous crowds, but the atmosphere this entire season has been special and has gone a long way in providing that extra motivation that makes the home field advantage in Jordan-Hare unique. Coach Oliver recognized it when I was a player...he always said Jordan-Hare was the single most difficult stadium to win a football game in when he coached at Alabama. The fans did their part in making Jordan-Hare come alive this season and I'm sure the players appreciate that more than I can convey!
5. Gus Malzahn. He takes what you give him. He attacks from every angle, with every playmaker, with speed, with power, vertically, horizontally...it's special! He gets cute sometimes...I'm beginning to think because he gets bored (not really)...honestly, I believe he does those things to keep it fun for the entire unit and to reward a guy like Kodi Burns for being as selfless as he's been.
1. That we had two guys throw punches and get themselves ejected and suspended for a half of the Bama game. It's never okay to throw a punch and it was a shame we displayed a lack of discipline at the end of the game. I completely understand the need and desire to protect your brother...but to throw a punch, not once but twice, was childish and disappointing. I assure you both will regret their decisions this "off-week". Both are likely to lose 10 pounds this week! It was a selfish decision as well, as both will be suspended for a half in the most important game of the year...something that hurts the team immensely.
2. Nick Fairley bordered on being dirty and did nothing to help his reputation as such in the minds of his critics. I'm not talking about driving the QB into the ground...I love that! The QB should get no more protection than I would get trying to get off of a block to make a tackle. If an offensive lineman drove me into the ground at the end of each block would I get fan sympathy, draw a personal foul call or would anyone say the offensive lineman was playing dirty. Of course not! It's the poor, pitiful, fragile QB we must protect. If you get there in time...make the QB pay and let him know you'll back all day long. The personal foul however was a terrible decision and costly for the defense. The one time we cover their receivers and force an incompletion on third and long, we give them a freebie by hitting the QB in the back long after he'd released the ball. The play that finally knocked Murray out of the game was questionable to me as well. Perhaps he didn't know Murray had released the ball...he was low to the ground and being blocked. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but if I'm a UGA lineman, I'm probably pissed too. But what the Georgia offensive line did to Nick was equally egregious. All that being said, I would have loved to have played defense with Nick Fairley! He plays with unbridled aggression and his dominance is a thing of beauty!
3. Tony Barnhart's clamoring of his disdain for "the underbelly of college football" and his rant on others making a buck off the backs of "student-athletes". Really? Has he not made his name and surely a fortune himself from said student-athletes? Does he not travel across the nation speaking to quarterback and touchdown clubs, writing books about the exploits of these young men and the institutions they represent and get paid handsomely for it. Does he not report and analyze the rumor and innuendo that gets tossed around in instances like the Cam Newton saga and revel in it. If I can turn on my TV and not see you pontificating from your pulpit every Saturday your diatribe might not ring so hollow with me. But something tells me you'll write a book with Cecil Newton about this and profit once again from the "underbelly of college football". You are the very thing you despise!