Sunday, September 11, 2011
Mississippi State Review (AU 41 MSU 34)
Intensity level remarkably higher--players and coaches!
I was proud to watch everyone fight! Of course it wasn't always pretty. Sometimes it was downright tough to watch. But what stood out to me was the effort, the desire to compete from start to finish, the tenacity and belief in one another to do just enough to win the football game--all character qualities you can't coach! It was evident improvement up front, the physicality in the trenches, was astounding in one week of work. Yet, it's also evident there's an overabundance of room for growth; for improvement in virtually all areas of this football team. That's exciting! Knowing this young group is experiencing the growing pains we all expected, yet doing so while pulling out victories against talented football teams, when at times victory seemed an impossibility, is the mark of a special team. It's a reflection of the coaches and the direction of the program when you believe you're supposed to win games because you're Auburn! I don't care about the defense giving up 333 yards on the ground as long as I see fantastic effort being put forth and pads popping each play. Chris Relf gashed us for a ton of yards, but Chris Relf lost his helmet damn near every play and he felt each one of those carries well into Sunday evening I'm sure.
What I liked...
1. Starting the game by forcing a State punt, obtaining excellent field position, establishing the running game, and putting 7 early points on the scoreboard. Picture perfect start.
2. Vastly improved fundamentals. Tackling was noticeably better from week one, specifically from our safeties. Of course we gave up far more yards on the ground to call the defense a success, we still eliminated all the lunging into thin air and tackled the ball carrier when he arrived.
3. Corners played in the face of the receivers every snap. A far cry from the 10-12 yard cushion we gave the Utah State receivers. And for the most part, the corners did an excellent job of blanketing the State receivers down the field, particularly #11 Chris Davis. Thought he played his best game yet.
4. Emory Blake continues to impress! He has obviously become Trotter's go-to receiver and I don't blame him. Exciting after the catch, fearless in traffic, and as sure-handed as they come. Two games into the season, he's an All-SEC selection!
5. Demetruce McNeal played his best game in an Auburn uniform. Takes his first career INT to the house and tackled with sound authority.
6. Mike Dyer ran more determined. Unbelievable balance and great speed. Now ready to see Mike run over people at the second level.
7. Cody Parkey- excellent on kickoffs and smooth with his field goals. Both field goals were right down the middle.
8. Coach Chizik coaching with fire! He was constantly on the refs and much more animated with his players and assistants than I can recall. He was emotional for his team from start to finish which tells me he didn't feel he coached his heart out last week against Utah State. He's asking his players to leave it all on the field, and I felt he did the same against State!
9. Offensive line play- protected Trotter well, and paved the way to 235 yards rushing (6.5 yds/carry).
10. Tre Mason and the kickoff return team. Never seen a team stop kicking to a player in his second collegiate game. Unbelievable back there. Reminds me of Javier Arenas returning punts...a threat every time to change field position or go the distance!
11. Coach Chizik not sitting on the ball and running out the clock to end the 1st half. Huge decision to go for points with minimal time remaining.
1. The Barrett Trotter INT!? Not sure what he saw, but he gift wrapped 7 points to State!
2. The Barrett Trotter moustache!? Typically I wouldn't mind it, but as a father of five including three little girls...to reminiscent of a perverted child molester. Sorry dude, but I say shave it off...unless you think it's good luck. In that case, I can adapt!
3. The defensive philosophy against the option. Slow playing the QB with a defensive end allowed Chris Relf to keep the ball in hands longer and hold the defense hostage. I would have liked to see our defensive ends punish Relf immediately. Get the ball out of his hands, force an early decision/pitch, and rally to the football and bring down the tailback. The option hurt all game long, but if we had punished Relf immediately every time he started down the line of scrimmage, State would have stopped running the option to protect the QB.
4. The golden eagle, Spirit, colliding with the sky box. WTH?! Kudos for shaking off the hit and finishing strong however!
5. 3rd down efficiency. Defensively we must learn to win the third down battles. What's most frustrating is many of the third down conversions the defense allowed were third and long. Can't continue to stay on the football field for 97 plays! Will ultimately catch up with us if not corrected. Offensively, 4-12 on third down for the game. Both units must improve here.
6. The celebration penalty on Robensen Therezie. As a ref, you have to want to make that call. The kid did a fist pump with a head bob. Not in front of his opponent. In no way was it taunting. It wasn't a "look at me" moment. It was a classic example of out-of-touch old white men making rules that limit spontaneous enjoyment of college football players. Start paying attention to what refs do when players score or make a big play. They immediately get in their face and limit celebration, sometimes pushing players to their huddle or sideline. Relax and let these guys enjoy a few moments of grandeur. They work year round to have the opportunity to make a play for their team. They make a play, get excited, and the rules punish them for it. It's ridiculous and has gone overboard. Choreographed celebrations and taunting the fans or your opponent deserves a flag. But what Therezie did or Nick Fairley in the Iron Bowl last year did drawing a flag is laughable.
7. Defensive ends are creating super-sized running lanes by screaming up the field without squeezing the tackles. Speed off the corners is great, but we're making the tackles life easy on running plays by running ourself out of the play. State allowed us to do it, then ran right through the lane our ends left.
8. Trovon Reed? Where is he? Keep waiting for his impact to be felt. I'm growing impatient.
Can't wait to hear how fast Mississippi State's stock falls this week. Last week they were Alabama of the 1970s. After losing to Auburn when no one picked them to do so, they'll be labeled Mississippi State of the 1970s. Because no one that loses to Auburn could be a decent football team, right?! 2-0, 17 in a row, and sitting alone atop the toughest division in college football! War Damn Eagle!