Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alabama Review (AU 14 UA 42)

How do you analyze a thrashing of epic proportion in a rivalry deserving far more than we witnessed Saturday on Pat Dye Field? As I watched, I was astounded by the vast expanse separating both teams as well as the voluminous disparity wedged between this years Auburn team and last. I knew this years Tigers would take a step backwards from last seasons unparalleled success. I did not expect a giant leap in reverse. The gap created between our Auburn Tigers and the preeminent teams in the SEC in one short year is larger than I thought it would be and Coach Chizik and staff have a major challenge ahead to close the chasm by next season.

I thought defensively we did about as good as we could expect against the run in the first half. We sold out to stop it and in doing so allowed AJ McCarron to have a career day. Chalk AJ up as yet another suspect QB playing the game of his life against the Auburn defense this season...which begs the question...are we that unlucky defensively to run into these offenses at their peak? Is it our defensive philosophy/gameplan? Or is it the players attempting to carry out that gameplan? This is the question Coach Chizik must address immediately to begin Auburn's ascension to the top of college football once again.

I cannot explain why we neglected to cover the Alabama's TE? I can only assume a linebacker totally blew his assignment. I promise matter what defense was called from the sideline, it doesn't involve ignoring the TE. Alabama did a fantastic job of softening up the Auburn defense with easy passes early in the football game working towards running it down our throats as the game progressed. Having played on teams at Auburn with pathetically anemic offense at times, I can tell you first hand as the game progresses and you see your offense is not going to have any semblance of success, it makes you think twice about continually sacrificing your body to bring down a stud like Trent Richardson. It's an extremely difficult position to be in as a defender.

Auburn now must turn its attention to the future. Having this time to practice during bowl preparation is enormously important for this young football team. I promise you the Tennessee's of the world are at an immense disadvantage for being off till spring football, and Auburn has to get better, and grow up during this extra practice time. Second, Coach Chizik must address the coaching situation. I still believe he should take the reigns as coordinator for the bowl game and either bring in a new coordinator for next season or just do it himself. I have been tough on Coach Roof as of late, but truth is it's not all his fault. To expect 18 and 19 year olds to physically whip the best players in college football is not logical and was destined to fail. His body of work however has not lived up to Auburn defensive standards...not even close.

In 1998 we finished the season 3-8. We were pretty good defensively, downright terrible offensively. If you had asked me then, I would have told you no one in the country outworked us and that our offensive staff fit our personnel just fine. In reality, I couldn't have been any farther from the truth! When Coach Tuberville and staff (particularly Kevin Yoxall) arrived we were introduced (quite brutally) to a brand new realm of work we had never known. The point...every player, fan base, any most of the time coach believes their program is doing everything the right way, with the right people, with the right philosophical approach. In reality, if you're not constantly reevaluating your program, your coaches, your personnel, and everything in between, then you run the risk of falling behind. Programs catch on and catch up in hurry. Auburn can right the ship just as fast as it veered off course. To do so will require some very tough decisions be made.

I still wake up the day after an Iron Bowl loss thankful I'm on the Auburn side of the rivalry. I know many fantastic Alabama people that love their university every bit as passionately as I do they should. But love of Alabama is easy love, cheap love, lazy love. The enormity of their sidewalk alumni proves this point. To love Auburn, you must first experience Auburn...and once you do it's in your blood forever. Sometimes, the Auburn football program breaks our hearts making love a difficult exercise. But, the stronger the winds blow, the fiercer the attacks, the more persistent the ridicule...the more solid we become, the sweeter the ride is to the top, the more united we all are! As goes the old proverb, "Good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the wind...the stronger the trees!"

Auburn will be back in the short-term. I believe Coach Chizik will take the necessary steps to resolve what ails us. Let's support Coach Chizik, his staff, and the players that are left to endure the steps taken to create change. War Eagle!


  1. plenty of valid reasons for where we are this year and lots of blame to pass around. we are all disappointed by the season but ultimately i think our record is about what most reasonable AU fans expected.

    i have been ready for roof to go since the first game but my issues with our defense have been the same issues since the '09 season. there are a lot problems but it seems to me that our safeties have been lost for the last 3 years. even last year when we had seniors back there how many guys were receivers were running free down the hashes? no original thought here but the tackling is/has been flat out terrible. I think Chiz deserves some blame for this too but he isn't going to fire himself.

    Offensively, I know many regard Gus as a brilliant OC, but (if he doesn't get an HC job) had better learn to give mike dyer the ball. 3 carries in the first half is a crime. It seems that Gus makes up his mind that we can't run the ball before the game so he just doesn't try. In the toughest games he abandons dyer. Not only is he not getting the ball, he isn't even on the field.

    The thing that bothers me most about this season is it just feels like a lost season. I can take losses with a young team but from the young guys i saw very few bright spots. Young guys screw up. Of course they do but I don't remember a whole lot of young guys on this team making plays that made me think, "oh, he is going to be good in a year or two."

  2. Rob I just want to thank-you for this blog because it is the best insight on the web. I have loved Auburn since I was 9 years old and listened to Sullivan and Beasley on the radio. I have endured the 70's with the ridicule and " Why are you an Auburn fan ?". It is true love and it's not easy sometimes but in your heart you know you wouldn't have it any other way. Thank God for the 80s and Coach Dye showing the Auburn faithful how we could be winners and it didn't take but 60 minutes to beat Alabama. I don't mind losing but at least fight and this year I didn't see a lot of fight. WDE !

  3. Rob,
    I find it remarkable the way you have been able to echo the sentiment of the Auburn faithful in such a perfect way this season. Being part of the Auburn Family since birth, I realize that our generation has seen overall prosperity since Coach Dye took over the program. However, the hard times we have witnessed have been real. I find it most reassuring that our future has solid roots when I hear "IT'S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER" just as things completely unravel in the 4th quarter. I can only guess the Vegas odds of the same happening in Bryant Denny if the Tide followed a championship season with one that struggled to reach 7-5. I couldn't agree more with your conclusion that in the very near future, we will be right back where we belong and I can't WAIT for you to tell the story as it unfolds!! WDE!!!

  4. rob,
    great job as always. it's time for some tough love on the plains.

  5. Looking back at the season and how miserably our receivers have performed, what are your thoughts on Asst. Head Coach and Receivers Coach, Trooper Taylor? I know we had some injuries, but outside of Blake, when he was healthy, and Lutzie, our receivers have been horrible. I know Coach Taylor is a recruiting monster in that he relates very well to the kids, but he doesn't seem to be able to coach his position very well. With all the venom directed at Roof (rightfully so), it seems that others' deficiencies have been overlooked. You can add Thigpen and Loxley to the same list as our secondary was also pretty pitiful. Thoughts...

  6. You're so right Rob. Us oldtimers get that statement. Your description of why you are glad to be on the Auburn side is stinking spot on. You've put into words what the family feels but can't always verbalize. A little known fact is that I grew up on the side that you did. Don't tell anybody. Then I experienced Auburn at about the same age as you were when you first experienced it. Everything changed. Many a lab tech has looked puzzled when drawing my blood. No matter what, no matter when, no matter how, it's great to be an Auburn Tiger.

  7. I appreciate you all reading and for taking the time to comment. It makes the effort worthwhile.

  8. AUEngineer- I believe the WRs were most disappointing of all positions this year. I don't like to call out players cause I sure know I had my own flaws and my dad would probably have exploded if message boards and blogs were prevalent during my playing days...but I don't understand why Jay Wisner never left the field. 1 catch for 20 yards all season, yet played more snaps than anyone. Doesn't make sense. As far as the secondary goes, I really feel like they should consolidate from 2 coaches to 1. Those guys are a unit, just like the offensive line. Safeties most know where their corners are and vice versa. I get the feeling many times they're not on the same page. They should all hear the same instruction from the same person. Maybe they all meet together? I'm not sure. But we never had a corner coach and a safety coach. We had a secondary coach.