Monday, October 17, 2011
Florida Review (AU 17 UF 6)
An ugly game to watch. A beautiful outcome. The Chizik staff did their very best Tuberville impression and came out a strategic winner...doing it with field position, turnovers, and terrific defense. A few weeks ago, Ted Roof was everyone's punching-bag and punch-line. The majority wanted Roof fired. Today he looks like he deserves a raise (although I'm sure Chizik will get the credit in the eyes of many for the defensive resurgence?). Alternatively, our offense continues to regress. It's like pulling teeth watching this offense bang it's head against the wall running against 8 and 9-man fronts. That being said, it still amazes me the success this team has on the ground even as the defense gears up solely for the run knowing the passing threat is minimal to nonexistent.
This was my first game to attend this year, and a few things stood out to me with an opportunity to see the entire field.
1. Our youth is unbelievable, particularly in the secondary. True freshman playing critical snaps at both corner positions, both safety positions. Occasionally, our entire defensive backfield were all true freshman. Early on this season, that was a liability. As the year progresses, you can easily see the game slowing down for them and their athletic ability becoming evident. Our DBs are going to be the best group in the country in the near term.
2. Intensity of Jordan-Hare. I know it seems silly and perhaps improbable, but I forget how loud that stadium can get. Crowd support was incredible, and I assure you meaningful, for this young football team. It's the ultimate home-field advantage!
3. Daren Bates is a headhunter! I thought he played a terrific football game. He looks to have become the leader of the defensive unit and plays with unbridled aggression and effort. Whether or not he played excellent assignment football within the scope of his required duties I have no clue. What caught my eye was the punishment he delivered. It was a sight to see!
4. The substitutions on offense seem pointless sometimes. The play ends and we frantically shuffle in and out a handful of different receivers. We snap the ball...they block. We frantically run in a few more receivers. We snap the ball...they block. Seems like the same guys could block a few plays consecutively? Not a big deal, you just don't see all the offensive substitutions on TV.
5. Tackling has improved immeasurably! At every position it is obvious Auburn has spent some time addressing the fundamentals as it relates to tackling. Tackling alone is the top reason for the defense's newly found success.
6. Clint Moseley provided a noticeable shot of energy to the entire stadium. His entrance was palpable and he did not disappoint. He didn't set the stadium on fire, but he forced Florida to defend the pass as well as the QB run. He looked to be the dual threat we've all been hoping for...only we thought it would be Kiehl Frazier.
7. Jake Holland deserves mention. The guy played with a broken wrist, two bad knees, and an injured bicep. And his first series he immediately made his presence felt with a few plays behind the line of scrimmage. Eltoro Freeman has been fantastic in Jake's place, but Holland deserves some credit for his play against the Gators.
8. Coach Chizik's emotion on the sideline. He throws an atomic fist dang near every good play his team makes. He bear hugs his players when they make a great play. He meets his defense beyond the hash-marks on third down stops. I love that! I love a head coach not afraid or too big to show how much he cares and appreciates the effort given. I never had that, and to see it makes me wish I could have played for this staff.
9. Will Muschamp needs anger management. If ever a coach will stroke out on the sideline (God forbid) it's Will Muschamp (followed closely by ND Coach Brian Kelly)! Perhaps he should be forced to coach from the press box in an attempt to allow kids to watch UF games on TV without forcing parents to explain F-bombs. Florida games are rated-R with Will at the helm.
10. The start of fourth quarter new Auburn tradition of acknowledging the fans with a quick jaunt toward the student section. I noticed the officials running along the team and immediately directing them back toward the AU sideline. Last year the officials never blinked...could've cared less what the Auburn sideline was doing. Wouldn't be surprised to see a new rule added to the rule book next season forbidding this type of expression...what with fun, and exuberance, and college football players involved!
All in all, big time win for this Auburn team. Lots of recruits, and lots of bowl representatives were in attendance. This win will go a long way in determining Auburn's bowl game destination. Auburn remains a player in the SEC race and continues to defy the experts. Is it possible this team has what it takes to go into Death Valley and shock the college football world? We will soon find out.