Friday, January 7, 2011

BCS National Title Preview

Well, this is it! The culmination of weeks of exhilarating football capped off by an Iron Bowl win, a SEC Championship, a Heisman trophy, a perfect season! A group of young men travel across the country to play for it all...the BCS National Title. The crystal ball. The pinnacle of college football supremacy, legacy, perennial recognition.

They'll take the field wearing the orange and blue and we'll all feel as if they're playing for each of us individually. And in many ways they are. They're cognizant of the tradition, the uniqueness, the family, the guys that have come before them because they have a head coach who won't let them forget it. They'll play with passion and fight ferociously and old has-beens like myself will swell with pride and emotion to see the colors battle for it all. We're all emotionally invested in this team, as a unit, as individuals, their resiliency, their camaraderie, their representation of the university. We will all feel like we played the game ourselves when this one is over!

Truth be told, I don't know much about Oregon. I know they play fast, they limit substitutions, they score quickly, they score often, they're coach is arrogant. That's about the extent of my preparation for what Oregon is. This game will be no different than the other 13 this season. It's not about the opponent, it's about Auburn's preparation and mentality. If these guys show up and compete for four quarters like they have all season's Auburn's game to lose! No disrespect to Oregon, I think they're immensely talented. I think Oregon will have success offensively and score some points. What we have to do defensively is not self-destruct, not give away scores with blown assignments, not succumb to frustration when the substitution pattern is nonexistent and guys must play extra reps winded. You can't let the tempo get to your head. They don't run difficult plays to defend. They just run ordinary plays at a blistering pace and defenses get frustrated with it. We can't waste energy celebrating after big stops.

To me the onus falls to the perimeter defenders, the secondary and outside LBs. No way does Oregon gash Auburn between the tackles so Oregon will test the edges of our defense. Can we make clean open field tackles in space? Can we run stride for stride with speedy receivers all night and make a play on the football in the air. Oregon will try to marginalize our front four with speed and it will be the perimeter guys that must step up and raise their level of play. I still say Nick Fairley makes a game changing play however!

Offensively, we have the enormous advantage of ball control offense. If the defense gets gassed, we have the ability to grind it out on the ground and keep the defense rested. I believe our rushing attack is the difference in this game. Oregon can strike quick, but Auburn can pound you into submission. We must and I believe we will win the battle on the offensive line of scrimmage and thus we win the national title!


1 comment:

  1. Your analysis is spot on. I especially like the point about not wasting time celebrating big stops on defense because the Ducks are going to keep playing.

    The other thing is we must not make penalties. This point was illustrated as a significant difference between Arkansas and LSU these past two bowl games. Arkansas destroyed a few offensive drives with penalties. Of course their receivers dropped a number of well-thrown balls, too.

    LSU played relatively penalty free. So did Tx A&M. In fact the refs seemed to eschew throwing the yellow laundry throughout the game.

    I worry that Fairley will be a marked man coming into the game. He has been "unfairly" marked as a dirty player by fans of opposing teams who got their QBs and feeling hurt when they lost. So they accuse Fairley of doing something wrong. The kid is big, strong, and fast. He makes big tackles with authority. The overwhelming majority of his take downs have been within the rules, but a few have been late hits. But late hits happen all the time, just like contact out of bounds, when players have tunnel vision on making a tackle.

    But back to my previous point, we can't afford the luxury of coming out in a fog the way LSU did against Tx A&M, however. Oregon will be the most focused offense we have seen all year and a deficit of points early on could be a difficult hurdle.

    I do expect our defense to continue to get stronger as the game goes on. This has been the consistent pattern all year. We just can't let the Ducks gash us in the first quarter.