Friday, September 21, 2012
Auburn can beat LSU. It's not likely, but it's well within the abilities of the guys wearing that blue jersey Saturday night. The question I have is, Do they believe they can beat LSU? Do they show up Saturday night already beaten, already expecting to be outmatched, out-manned, the less physical football team? Do they enter the game expecting to struggle to run the football, expecting their QB to make untimely mistakes, expecting their young tackles to struggle against a fearsome pass rush? Do our coaches play things so close to the vest they give our players little chance to be successful because we're so basic, so vanilla, so predictable that we surrender our playbooks in the name of oversimplification? Does the crowd enter lackadaisically, sitting on their hands hoping for the best but expecting the worst thereby forfeiting one of the greatest homefield advantages in all of football?
Or does this team grow up on Saturday night? Do they put together a full 60 minutes of fundamentally sound, ultra-aggressive, confident football in their greatest test to date? Do they believe they can outplay the guy across from them, out-smart him, out-work him, out-hustle him, outlast him from opening to closing whistle? Do they believe in the systems, the gameplans their coordinators have installed? Do they walk down a Tiger Walk and enter a stadium so passionate, so deafening, so electric, that even if they had gotten off of the bus uninspired, they have no alternative but to be bursting from the inside out to run through a brick wall for Auburn University, for each other, for themselves? Do they understand when you don the blue jersey, they represent us all, all that have come before them, all that support them no matter where they reside within the landscape of college football--the pinnacle or the valley? Does that Auburn logo, that stadium, the necessity of defending both no matter how challenging the opponent ring hollow or ring true?
Those are questions we can't answer. Only these football players know the answers. Not the coaches, not their parents, not their best friends, not any sports commentator or analyst. Only the guys wearing the blue jersey know in their hearts if they've prepared well, they believe in their plan, they believe in their ability to execute that plan, and if they are willing to fight like hell to make it happen.
I believe this game is less about LSU and more about the psyche of Auburn. Can we run the football when LSU will sell out to deny it? Can Kiehl Frazier beat the LSU secondary occasionally to make them honest? Can our young offensive tackles protect Kiehl long enough to provide some semblance of comfort for a struggling QB? Can we convert in the red zone? Can our defensive tackles man up and provide the push they've desperately lacked through three weeks? Can we get off the football field on third down? Can we tackle well for four quarters and make LSU earn every inch they get? Will we win the special teams battle?
I attended the game in Baton Rouge last year and the disparity in physicality, emotion, talent was frightening. I'll be looking to see if we've closed that gap in all aspects. I don't think we win this football game, but like I previously said, what we think means nothing. Come to play. Come believing. Come ready to dominate. Come to play 4 quarters. Come to shock the college football world. Come because you Auburn and at Auburn you may beat us, but to do so you'll have to kill us.