Monday, September 17, 2012
ULM Review (AU 31 ULM 28 OT)
Unbelievable that football game came down to the wire. After seemingly having this ULM team on the ropes, twice driving to extend the lead to 35-14, up two scores...with the ball...with less than 9 minutes to play...yet to have it boil down to me begging ULM Coach Todd Berry to not go for two and the throat of Auburn really left me dumbfounded. I have never seen an offense lose its way as quickly and as completely as this Auburn offense did in the fourth quarter. Speaking of fourth quarter...very disheartening to not only lose the fourth quarter, but to be totally dominated in the fourth quarter...a 14 point swing...the quarter every team in America works January to August to win. I am glad we pulled out the victory. I am disappointed in the way it ended.
It wasn't all bad, in fact there were some individuals that played fantastic football, some progress noticed in areas that have struggled. There were also some areas we continue to be below average in. The good and the bad...
+ Cody Parkey. Continues to be the most reliable weapon we have. Confident, accurate, consistent. Not only has he been perfect on every FG opportunity, he drills them straight down the middle leaving no doubt whatsoever. His placement of kickoffs have been stellar and have forced offenses to start many drives inside the 15 yard line.
+ Running game. Despite teams loading up the box to stop Auburn's only legitimate offensive threat, this offense continues to move the ball successfully on the ground behind a talented group of offensive linemen, a lead full back, TEs selling out in the run game, and WRs dedicated to stalking defenders down field. If we could establish any sort of downfield passing presence our running game would be deadly. If we continue to flounder in our passing game making terrible decisions, holding the ball to long, not throwing the ball away or using our God-given athletic ability to scramble and live to play another down, our running game will go south in a hurry as we enter the meat of our schedule. If we remain one dimensional, the LSUs and Georgias and Alabamas of the world will utterly embarrass our offense.
+ Crowd at Jordan-Hare. For an 11 AM game in the hot sun against a Sun Belt opponent, after opening the season 0-2, I thought the crowd was great. I'm proud the Auburn faithful haven't abandoned these guys trying their best to be successful. They'll continue to improve and perhaps surprise us before this season ends.
+ Kickoff coverage, particularly black Jake Holland. True freshman WR Ricardo Louis was a monster on kickoff coverage and the broadcast crew continued to call him Jake Holland. There are players that do more for their teams, but does any other team have a guy that can be a white middle linebacker as well as a black WR who covers kicks like an animal? Jake Holland for Heisman?
+ Sideline Emotion. I got chill bumps when I saw VanGorder throwing atomic fists and chest bumping his players running off the field. Sure, he may have been lost and not realized he stopped ULM on 1st and 10 instead of 4th and short. His intensity and emotion, however brought about, was a welcome sight and I know for a fact enjoyed and appreciated by his defensive unit. Enthusiasm is infectious and 90% of playing defense is having the right mindset. I liked his outburst, regardless of the fact it was unwarranted.
+ Quan Bray. Solid punt returner, fearless receiver, great pass and awareness on the throwback to Frazier. He has become the weapon opposite Blake we thought Trovon Reed would be and I enjoy watching Quan play.
+ 1st half Kiehl Frazier. Looked like a different QB from what we saw a week ago. Was accurate, made mostly correct reads, was poised and in rhythm and seemingly in control. Unfathomable the dichotomy between first half Kiehl and second half Kiehl. Never seen anything quite like it.
- Not necessarily bad, but trending in the wrong direction is Steven Clark. Not consistent and two weeks in a row his punts have been short. If not for some friendly rolls, he barely averages 30 yards/punt in this game. Mississippi State was much the same. He's having a poor run right now and I hope to see him shake free from it.
- No killer instinct. This team doesn't know how to win. Just like I questioned the leadership in an 18 point loss to MSU, I question the leadership in allowing an opponent to crush you in the 4th quarter in your home opener when you literally had your foot on their throat. We gave them opportunities. Their confidence grew as ours flat-lined.
- Offensive Playcalling. Again, this was not bad all game, but in the fourth quarter it was bad. We are up 28-14. There is less than 9 minutes to play in the game. We are virtually in field goal range with a 2nd and 8 looming. We have rushed for over 200 yards at this point in the game. Why then throw the ball? Why not run the ball, which is the only way we have been effective and is our greatest opportunity to move the chains. At the very worst we fail convert on three straight runs and we line up our most consistent player to attempt to make it a three score game. We continue to bleed the clock. Instead, we got impatient, we wanted to give Kiehl some confidence, we learned nothing from the Arkansas film the week prior. They intercept (granted the read by Frazier was pitiful) and the game takes on a completely different feel.
- 2nd half Kiehl Frazier. Leaves me scratching my head? He became so unsure of himself, so uncomfortable. The coaching staff lost all faith in his ability to put the ball in the air and rightfully so, his decision making was not good. Instead of learning from his mistakes and making a mental catalog to draw from, he dwells on them, they affect his confidence, his entire demeanor, the offense as a whole.
- Rushing Defense. 4 yards/rush against ULM is entirely too much. Against MSU...4.6 yards/rush. Clemson?...6.2 yards/rush. In order to be successful on defense you have to stop teams from running the football. Period. There's no way around it. We don't do a good enough job consistently to make teams one dimensional. We therefore must play on our heels, letting their offense dictate the game as opposed to our defense.
- Defensive Tackles. If I didn't know who our defensive tackles were simply because I'm an Auburn fan and follow our team I wouldn't know we even had DTs on the field. They are completely absent. Other than Angelo Blackson making an appearance every so often, the others are AWOL. Don't believe they'll be striking fear in the hearts the LSU OL this week.
- Time of possession. We can't keep the ball. Our defense plays entirely too many snaps. I don't care how many players you rotate in the ballgame, when the other team has the ball nearly a full quarter more than you, your defense will get gassed.
- Trovon Reed, Robensen Therezie, Erique Florence, Kris Frost. Ask any Auburn fan prior to this season if by week three not a single one of these guys would make a meaningful contribution, I'm fairly confident 99.9% of us would have scoffed at the notion. That's shameful. Far too much talent in that group to be spectators. You earn your stars by how you produce on Saturdays in an Auburn uniform, not on Fridays in high school. I think we have some guys that just don't get that.
Lots of room to improve, obviously. Also lots of guys I'm really proud of. I'm just waiting for the light to click for our defense, our QB, our play-calling, our talented players who've yet to contribute. At some point the light will come on and things will improve. i just hope it's sooner rather than later.