It's a win, we'll take it...
I sat and watched this game with my old high school friends at my 20 year class reunion. To the members of the class of 94, it was great to see you. The ladies all looked great, the guys...well we just look old. We let up a roar after C.J's miraculous catch that shook the bar. I felt a strange sense of relief after that, knowing how far Auburn football has come in one year, but at the same time knowing we have so far to go.
It wasn't pretty, being gashed for another 400+ yards by a team with a backup quarterback, but in the end Auburn had its first SEC victory since 2011. And just looking at the facts, it's amazing that a team can turn the ball over 3 times, twice in its own territory, and still win the game.
I must admit I was pretty frustrated with play calling in the second half of this game. Gus just did not seem willing to let Nick Marshall cut loose in this one until he absolutely had to. We were stubborn about trying to run against an 8 man front for much of the game. The MSU defense is no slouch, so we can't complain too much. We are all in agreement that the final game winning drive was a thing of beauty. Marshall is fast becoming known for his steel nerve under pressure. He will need that down the road.
In the end he threw for more yards than anyone in quite some time. I cannot fault him on the INTs either, with one coming at the end of the half and another on a busted route. Nick is a work in progress. He still throws the ball with a little too much zip sometimes, but his decision making is spot on. As he and this team build confidence I think they will be a sight to see in the near future.
As for the defense, they have had better days. And up until the 4th quarter, they looked downright lost. I for one would like to see more of Montravious Adams. Maybe Coach Garner just doesn't think he is quite ready, yet but he knocks the blocker in the backfield 90 percent of the time so we have to keep getting him in the ballgame. Another thing to consider was the absence of Chris Davis, who injured himself on a punt return against Arkansas State. We need him back, not just for ability to cover but but for his ability to come up and stop the run. Get well soon Chris, we need you.
I say all that to say that the Auburn defense rose up when they had to, keep MSU out of the end zone for the entire 4th quarter, setting up the drama they may well keep the Bulldogs at home for the bowl season.
Special teams was again amazing, Clark and Parkey will keep Auburn in games this year. Quan Bray did a servicible job on punt returns, and servicible is way better than anyting we have seen in 4 years at AU.
I gotta say, I love the fact that Dan Mullin got lured into the 2 point conversion game by Gus. If he kicks an XP in the first half, Auburn's job gets a lot tougher on the final drive. My guess is Mullin's days at State are numbered, either by on his own or with some help from the State administration.
As the dust settles Auburn is 3-0. The past few trips down to Red Stick have not been pleasant, but I think this team can play with anybody, and I know the players are excited about the challenge ahead.