Thursday, October 20, 2011
I couldn't think of a worse weekend to be breaking in a new starting QB. Pulling off a road win against this LSU team is an unenviable, tall task. I would equate its likelihood to receiving a meaningful tax cut from a modern day Democrat…in most cases it’s not happening. Winning on a national stage with a rookie QB making his first start? Even more improbable! There are, however, reasons to remain optimistic about Auburn’s chances within Death Valley Saturday afternoon.
1. The resurgent Auburn defense. Their play has improved remarkably at all levels. Confidence is high as it’s obvious the processing of the game has slowed immensely for this extremely young group.
2. The Auburn defense vs the LSU offense. For whatever reason, Ted Roof’s defenses seem to thrive against downhill, pro-style offenses. Auburn struggles against the spread attacks. LSU is the epitome of power football for which Coach Roof always seems “ably-manned” and tactically sharp.
3. Clint Moseley brings a confidence to the quarterback position Auburn has lacked now for several weeks. Granted, that confidence may be short-lived against one of the nation’s top defenses. It does, however, force LSU to defend the pass, rush, and potential QB running threat. Auburn has to be multiple to consistently move the ball.
4. LSU suspensions. Probably not a dramatic alteration to the LSU or Auburn game plans, but any time you lose your starting tailback and a ball-hawk/play-maker like Tyrann Mathieu it hurts. Maybe it’s a rallying point for LSU? Maybe it’s a distraction? Either way, it won’t hurt to have those guys in street clothes Saturday!
5. Auburn rushing attack. Ranks twenty-seventh in the nation, two spots ahead of LSU. The ability to control the football, run clock, protect an inexperienced QB and young defense has been critical and the impetus to a 2-1 run through October. To go to 3-1 the Auburn rushing attack needs to be spectacular.
6. Steven Clark. The ultimate weapon and national leader in pinning teams inside their own twenty. Clark has the ability to make life miserable for the LSU offensive staff with poor field position. He’ll be called upon frequently and he must deliver.
7. Possible return of Emory Blake and/or Trovon Reed. Auburn’s passing game needs a true threat to keep the LSU defense honest. Either or both of these guys at 100% and on the field could potentially be a shot in the arm for the offense.
I could make a list of just as many reasons to doubt Auburn’s ability to pull off the unthinkable upset. I’ve seen strange things happen in Baton Rouge with my very own eyes. I’ve seen even more bizarre things happen within this series since my playing days concluded. For Auburn to win Saturday…stranger things have happened.
Dr. Z and I have made a road trip each year since we've been doing the blog. Year one saw us trek to Athens and lose by a score. Last year we went to Lexington and won on a last second Wes Byrum kick (prelude to a national title!). This year it's Baton Rouge. One small problem. Dr. Z doesn't think we can win, so Dr. Z is sitting at home in Trussville, AL and watching from his living room. I, on the other hand, will travel on to Baton Rouge...with my bride...wearing the brightest orange Auburn shirt I could find. I don't see us moving the football enough to win the football game either. I do see us fighting four quarters and making LSU earn everything they get. I do also see me having a hell of a time willing my team to victory within hell itself (Death Valley). Sort of hoping to fist-fight my way out of Tiger Stadium. And to win my trip cost back at the casino!