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 this...no 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 Auburn...as 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!