Friday, December 6, 2013

SEC Championship Preview-Stranger Danger

Auburn will play a total stranger for the SEC championship tomorrow.

Raise your hand if you thought Auburn would be playing for an SEC Championship at the beginning of the 2013 season. If you put your hand up, you're either a delusional optimist or a liar.

Missouri is in a similar boat as Auburn. They won 5 games last season, with only 1 SEC win in 2012 over a hapless Tennessee. If you are having a hard time gauging how good the Tigers really are, let me clear it up for ya, the Missouri Tigers are 11-1. Their resume is every bit as impressive as Auburn's.

A look into those wins is telling. They beat Georgia on the road after only a week after the Dogs were decimated with injuries. They manhandled Florida in a similar fashion. The dominated scrappy Vanderbilt on the road, as well as Tennessee at home. I for one was shocked at the relative ease in which they took care of Ole Miss in Oxford. And to finish it off they bested Johnny Football last week at home.

The only loss came in overtime to South Carolina. Missou led that game by 17 points, before Conner Shaw entered and led the Gamecocks to an amazing 4th quarter comeback.

So make no mistake, these guys we will line up against are good. The have a senior quarterback who has giants to throw to. The have a salty front four which is likely as good or better than the group Auburn beat last Saturday. They can score points and play defense.

What I am saying is Auburn better bring there A game to this one. And that has me concerned a little bit.

For the whole week Auburn has been the media darling (Pete Thamel excluded). While Auburn made every national news show replaying the miraculous finish in the Iron Bowl and national pundits debated if Auburn should jump unbeaten Ohio State, Missouri sat brooding in Columbia waiting for their own opportunity. My guess is they feel a little under-appreciated.

They will be looking to show the whole college football world they are every bit as deserving as Auburn as to being in the discussion for a national title.

In other words, get ready for another war.

I still think Auburn's run game is good enough to get it done. When we do pass, protecting against that very good defensive line will be a chore.

Defensively Auburn has to contain Franklin and stop the run game of Missouri. The secondary must be ready for a battle with big athletic receivers. Green-Beckham is the best pro prospect at receiver since Larry Fitzgerald.

And if and when we win this game, Auburn will be in the discussion for the BCS title, though I doubt it happens unless Ohio State loses (which is a distinct possibility). At this point, you just have to hope Auburn wins the SEC and let the chips fall where they may.

Here's hoping for one more week of magic in 2013.

School where all the sleazy sports Jornalists come from 35

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bama Review: Legend

Pure Magic.

Chris Davis was an afterthought in the recruiting process in 2010. He was a three star "athlete". Chris is one of those diamonds in the rough that former Auburn coach Phillip Lolley finds from time to time. He hails from Woodlawn, a forgotten burrough of Birmingham. Their little town there doesn't have much. They share a football stadium with half a dozen other Birmingham schools on the east side of town.

From that little neighborhood to Auburn and Tuscaloosa, and everywhere else in the world of college football, Chris Davis's name is now legend. You will never forget where you were that night. I won't. My ticket stub from section 42 will be framed soon.

I try not to get too emotionally invested these days. I like to write about it, for sure. But 2011 and 2012 soured me. Not that I am a fairweather fan or anything, but the relentless dogging of Auburn football by the Thayer Evans and Selena Roberts of the world made me feel like I couldn't even enjoy Auburn's prosperity. That and Danny Sheridan's imaginary bagman.

Then there is the indisputable fact that Auburn will break your heart. She's broken mine more times than I can count. But I found myself misty eyed after the Marshall to Coates TD. I found tears rolling down my cheeks when I looked out onto Jordan Hare to see a sea of orange and blue clad fans storm the field after Chris Davis became a legend. It was one of those moments in sports that we long for that almost never happen.

And then it happened. And it is seared into your memory forever. And you are emotionally invested again. Just like that she has pulled you back in.

The game was everything a sports fan could ever want in terms of high drama. Alabama punched and punched and knocked Auburn down. Time and time again Auburn got back up.

Then the drive to tie the game. A drive with all running plays, save one. Marshall is not a passer. Surely that is what two Bama defensive backs must have thought as a wobbly pass found its way between them into the waiting arms of Sammie Coates. Sammy turned and ran with nothing but green grass ahead. At that moment I knew we would win. These guys are magic.

But I figured, like the rest of the 87,000 and changed inside Jordan-hare, that we would win in overtime. Auburn had solved the riddle of Alabama's defense, and they would have to go into the extra frame without a placekicker they trusted. I liked our chances to be sure.

But overtime never came, and for a brief moment when the review booth gave the Tide just one more second, I thought our hearts would be broken again. One second was all they needed to do something. One second.

That one second on the clock allowed Nick Saban to run out a placekicker that had not seen the field in the Iron Bowl. He would try a field goal of 57 yards. Oh Nick, pride and arrogance is a weakness. You learned that Saturday night. A guy who is arrogant enough to go for it on fourth and 1 instead of kicking a chip shot field goal to go up ten is surely arrogant enough to think his freshman kicker can make a 57 yarder.

As that one second ticked to 0:00 the ball fluttered short and to the right. Chris Davis was waiting.

Before the kick a lady behind me, probably in her 60's asked what number 11 was doing standing in the endzone. I leaned back and said he can return it like a kickoff if it is short.

Chris started right then veered left. And a wall formed. And no one in white was even close. Alabama's holder made an attempt to reach him at the 45, but instead of preventing history, history ran right by.

Chris ran right to us is section 42. He was mauled by teammates right in front of us. Two arms wrapped around my neck and that 60 something year old woman was kissing me on the cheek, right where that tear was rolling down. I guess I had answered her question.

It was bedlam in the stadium. I've never been in a mosh pit but I would imagine that is what it would be like. Then the fireworks. Then I said to the guy next to me "Boy there's a lot of media on the field."

"Are you crazy man? Those are students. Get your phone out and take pictures!!"

I got my phone out and did a video. Then my battery died. Then I stood and watched. For several minutes I stood there and watched. I could not (and still cannot) comprehend what I saw.

What crazy wonderful drug had I been given? It was euphoric. It was unreal.

It was 2013 Auburn football. And I will never forget it.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Bama Preview: Auburn: America's Team

If Auburn loses, the terrorists win.

The eyes of the nation will be on Jordan Hare in less than 24 hours. Most of those, I would argue a vast majority, will be pulling hard for the orange and blue.

The nation is sick of Bama. Tired of Nick Saban and his condescending tongue-lashings. Sick of what even the man's wife says are spoiled rotten fans.

Yes. Forget about the Cowboys, Auburn is America's team this weekend. No one wants to see the evil empire play for a third straight national title. No one wants to see that forced evil smile on Nick Saban's face holding up another crystal football. No one wants to hear Brent Musberger verbally undress AJ McCarron's girlfriend on live TV.

The time has come for the the Tide to lose. Democrat or Republican, Red State, Blue state, it does not matter. They all say War eagle this weekend.

How does Auburn do it? The same formula holds true. Run the damn ball. Play action. Trick em. Out flank em. Be fast. Hit hard. The stadium will be jacked...and loud.

Oh will it be loud.

Defensively, Auburn must get to McCarron. Hit him. Rattle the cockiness right out of him. Dee Ford needs to know what his brand of cologne is by the time this thing is over.

Hit Yeldon. Hit him hard. Make him rue the day he flipped his commitment two years ago. Stir it up. Play with swagger. Bama does not believe Auburn is back. We have had to hear it on talk radio for two weeks. Serve. Them. Notice.

They will know quickly come tomorrow, that we are back.

It might have happened in the blink of an eye, but here we are. The Tide has to go through Auburn now to get to Atlanta. In our house. They are nervous as hell about November 30th at 2:30 PM, take that to the bank.

Win this game. Defy all odds. Defy every football pundit.

Win for Auburn. The nation is behind you.

War Eagle forever.

Auburn 35
Bama 30

Monday, November 25, 2013

Iron Bowl Week-People Get Ready

Iron Bowl week is upon us, and my oh my, how crazy a week it will be. And after a weekend where Baylor goes down in a flaming heap and Oregon loses big, the stage is set for a BCS championship elimination game...maybe.

Alabama can punch a ticket to a 3rd straight title game with a win over Auburn and a surprisingly stout Missouri, though neither is predestined. Auburn will most likely need some help to get there. Even with a win over Alabama and Missouri, Auburn will still need either Ohio State or Florida State to lose to get in to the national championship game.

The fact that I wrote that last paragraph at all tells you that win or lose come Saturday, Auburn has risen meteorically from the depths of despair in 2012.

The job Gus Malzahn and his staff have done since taking over the reigns last January has been simply astounding. In just a few short months, the attitude and psyche changed 180 degrees. WE figured he would have an easier time of it since he recruited most of these players. But 10-1 going into the Iron Bowl? I would've told you I had a better chance of walking on the moon.

No doubt, this weekend will be crazy. I will be down there in Auburn, tickets in hand to witness what will hopefully be one of those amazing Auburn Iron Bowl wins like 1989 or 1993. I am giddy.

Preview coming later this week. And if you are in Birmingham, just turn off the sports talk radio full of Bammer homers.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Georgia Review-That. Just. Happened.

To Err is human, to Barn hard is divine.

It's Okay to watch this over and over again. You can trust me. I'm an optometrist.

To paraphrase myself before during and after the aptly named "Prayer in Jordan Hare". It went something like: Why the hell is he just throwing it up for...Oh my God, Oh My God. Whoooohoooooo!!!!!! I then proceeded to mumble that last part of the phrase for twelve hours.

I couldn't eat. I didn't sleep. I got home and watched the replay. This was after burning up my iphone battery on the gifs and video of everything associated with Marshall to Lewis.

Not lost upon me in all the hoopla is how much Auburn dominated that game for three quarters, only to nearly squander it away. If not for the catch, it really could have been one of the most epic of meltdowns ever to occur for Auburn.

I was witness to one of those in 1996, when Terry Bowden's Tigers blew a 21 point lead to a rudderless Georgia team, losing a five overtime game. It took me a while to get over the hangover from that one.

I wonder how long it takes the Georgia faithful to get over this one.

Auburn played three complete dominant quarters of football against a Georgia team that was close to its early season self. Auburn learned a valuable lesson: you better play all four. Especially against a quarterback as gutsy and as good as Aaron Murray. Yeah, I have given him grief about Nick Fairley and will probably give him more about Dee Ford, but he is a great player, and Georgia will miss that guy next year.

This will be one people talk about for 50 years. The dominant Auburn in the first three quarters. The resillient Georgia in the 4th. And one catch that probably should have never happened, but did.

In 11 days, Auburn plays Alabama for all the marbles. But fans, take just a little longer to savor this win.

Like this...

And this...

Our old blogger buddy Rob's reaction is flat out priceless in this one. Pretty much how every Auburn person reacted.

10-1. One more guys. Come on.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Georgia Preview-Raising the Stakes

Aaron Murray still cries at night.

Let's take a trip in the way-back machine to 2010. Auburn fell behind two touchdowns to Georgia and Aaron Murray, only to come roaring back to win in a laugher 49-31. One of the subplots from the game was Nick Fairley basically trying to end the existence of Aaron. Yes, Nick hit him late once, drawing a 15 yard penalty. The rest of his hits were legal, though hard hitting. Nick was doing his job that night and boy did he do it well.

To this day the Georgia faithful still complain about Nick. He's in the league now, wreaking havoc on NFL signal callers, and is considered Mr. Clean next to his comrade Donkey Kong Su (which is what I call him since I am too lazy right now to look up how to spell the guys name.

Odds are good that if Auburn beats Georgia Saturday, the Georgia faithful will whine like my 3 year old after I take the Ipad away. It's just their nature. For some reason they think they have an elite program. I think they have the right to feel like they should have an elite program (even though they don't). They are the only game in town (sorry ramblin wreck) in a state that is loaded with talent. Problem is they lose out on a lot of this talent to Auburn. Think about Cam Newton, Takeo Spikes, and Ronnie Brown, just to name a few. Georgia is a notch below Auburn historically, and I think that drives them nuts.

The game this weekend shows how high the stakes have been raised for Auburn. A win here and all of a sudden the Iron Bowl becomes epic. An Iron Bowl where the winner takes all.

But let's look at the task in front of us. Georgia will come to town with something to prove. They are healthier than they have been in weeks so they feel like they have a good shot at a win on the plains. Todd Gurley is back in the backfield, and he will make a difference, even at 80%. Murray is Murray. He plays well against Auburn, even though he still wets the bed thinking about Nick Fairley.

Georgia's defense will be the X factor in this. Can they stop Auburn's running game? Not likely, but they can slow it down and make Auburn throw. I have heard pundits all week like "expert" Tom Luginbill say that Auburn doesn't throw because they are deficient in that area. I wouldn't call it deficient. I would call it smart football. Run it till they stop it. That is football. ALways has been. It doesn't matter what the formation is. Nobody has come close to stopping Auburn's running game recently.

Auburn has been strategic all year in their offensive scheme. They have pretty much run it at will on everybody since the second half of the LSU game. Marshall has gotten better with accuracy, though he is far from polished. I also think he is better rolling out and throwing. Standing in the pocket, he looks like he babies throws, almost like he is thinking too much. On rollouts or scrambles, he seems to be much more accurate. It reminds me a lot of Auburn coach Dameyune Craig, who could roll out and chuck it 65 yards on a dime.

My guess is Auburn gets Nick outside the pocket to throw or run this weekend. I also think he will have to throw more for Auburn to win. Georgia is good up front, and they will challenge Auburn's tough offensive line. Look for the Dogs to score points, but they fade in the 4th.

In the end, it will come down to running the ball and stopping the run. Whomever does that the best, wins this game.

Auburn 41
Leg Humpers 31

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Threatdown Week 11

And then there were two.

Georgia Last week-Sleepwalked through the first half, but woke up in time to whip a bad APp State team 45-6. The final score might look impressive, but this is not your typical FCS "scare the pants off of a D1" team that we have come to expect out of the boys from Boone. Georgia is getting healthier, but I would say Gurley is only about 75-80%. Bennet is back but still banged up, and the rest of the UGA walking wounded are still questionable. All of that still doesn't change the fact that teams score lots of points on Georgia. They are better against the run than teams we have played recently, so we may have to throw the ball about 12 times to win. Threatdown Level...Stable and medium.

Bama Last week Poured in on in the end beating LSU 38-17. This game was tied in the 3rd quarter. Then LSU ran out of gas. ANd after having watched the Tigers several times this year, they just don't look well-conditioned to me. Auburn, Ole Miss, and Alabama all ran roughshod over them in the 4th quarter. But give the Tide credit, they are well conditioned, so I guess they do more than sign with agents in the weight room. Threatdown Level...Maxed Out.

Amen corner is upon us, and at the beginning of the season, if you told me I would be disappointed going 1-1 here, I would have had you committed. No doubt about it, the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare will be rockin' come Saturday afternoon. I can't wait to see it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tennessee Review-Passes? We don't need no stinking passes.

Runnin' down a dream

Auburn beat Tennessee like a drum last Saturday. Auburn threw exactly 7 passes. Seven.

Auburn could have thrown zero passes and the result would have looked very similar, because Tennessee's hapless defense had no answer to the two play drive.

Needless to say Auburn's power running offense is shockingly good. I heard a Bama fan Saturday night say that Auburn's too one dimensional to beat Bama. What he, and the rest of the Mullets, don't comprehend is that not being able to throw and choosing not to throw are too entirely different animals. Why throw on a team that can't stop the run even with putting 8 and 9 in the box? Alabama will likely have to do the same thing. Do I think Bama can stop Auburn's run game with 8 and 9 in the box? I do. Do I think Auburn will exploit it if they try? You can bet your ass.

This Auburn team is on a mission to erase all doubt in everyone's mind, including their own, about 2012. Forget about it. It was a fluke brought on by poor coaching. Any doubt after two curb stomping road wins should be gone about this Auburn team being for real.

Yet Auburn opens as a 3 point favorite against Georgia. Georgia, who barely escaped with their lives against the same Tennessee team Auburn just took to the woodshed. Georgia who squeaked by hapless Florida. To that I say-Keep disrespecting Auburn. Be my guest.

Auburn will beat Georgia. Mark my words. Last Saturday put to rest any doubt in my mind. They believe again, therefore I believe again. My guess is the rest of college football will too. Very soon.

I haven't seen a resurrection like this since about 33 A.D.

Other thoughts:

-Auburn's defense still shows a wart or two, until the opponent gets inside the 30. Then the 85 Bears show up.

-Chris Davis needs a nickname. Like the honey grizzley or something. He would destroy a honey badger. He doesn't care.

-Auburn has the best offensive line in the SEC. And they'll all be back next year.

-Auburn has the best trio of running backs in the SEC. They too will all be back next year.

-I like the wacky Butch Jones at Tennessee. He seems like a more intelligent version of Houston Nutt. He is doing well on the recruiting trail, and he needs to. This team has zero team speed.

War Eagle everybody. It is time to finish this thing out. Auburn fans bring your lungs to Jordan Hare this Saturday.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tennessee Preview-I hate Rockytop

Who knew UT was so liberal and accepting of trans-gendered couples?

I have in-laws that live in Knoxville. I like my in-laws, save for the fact that I have to go to Knoxville Tennessee to see them. To the Auburn fans that are making the trip up this weekend, it sucks. Like a big orange. It is the worst stadium I have ever set foot in as it is basically an 87000 seat stadium with the seat markers painted close enough together to make it hold 20000 more people than it should. The upper deck feels like you are looking straight down. You also feel like you could fall to your death at any moment.

Other than my in-laws and the few dirty hippie grad student that we met, the people there are...there is no other way to say it, white trash. I tell people Knoxville is where you take a white supremacist to prove them wrong. You can't throw a Psedofed without witting a methhead. I'm talking Hills Have Eyes creepy people

About what you'll see in South Knoxville

As far as this game goes, it has me nervous. Sure, the Vols got run out of the stadium by Missouri last week, but they have played much better at home this season, with a win over South Carolina and could have been win over Georgia. They also are better after playing lousy the week before. They played lousy last week before and the week before that against Bama, so are they due to step up and play better?

Butch Jones is a pretty good coach, no matter how outlandish he can be. I have a feeling they Rocky Tops will be ready for Auburn. The crowd will be important as well, but it is an 11 AM game, so that should help the visiting Tigers. Win here, and Auburn gets to play for the SEC West crown within the friendly confines in their final two home games.

But again, this game is more about Auburn than Tennessee. Auburn has been to tough places on the road already and won. This team runs the ball as well as any Auburn team since the mid 80's. Teams that can run the ball on the road tend to win games as long as they do not turn it over. I also get the feeling the defense will want to come out and play a little better than they did last week as well. COmbine those factors with a true freshman QB for the Vols and that is a recipe for victory on Rocky Top.

Auburn 31
Kissing Cousins 20

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Week 10 Threatdown

Amen corner started off with a blowout. Let's see if we can keep it going...

Tennessee Last week- Blown out by Missouri 31-3. I honestly don't know what to make of Tennessee. They looked hapless on the road last Saturday night, but have looked good at home against teams who were due for a letdown. Can they catch AU looking ahead with two big rivalry games coming up? I think Auburn's letdown was last week. Still, Threatdown Level...Up.

Georgia Last Week-Escaped with a win over Florida 23-20. Georgia looked better for a half against a downright bad offensive Florida team. Getting Gurley back helps, but he looked totally out of game shape after weeks on the shelf. With all the players getting healthy for UGA, we will say Threatdown level...up.

Bama Last week-BYE. Saban would consider leaving if the correct pressure were to occur. Consider Gus Malzahn the vice-grip. Threatdown Level...Terminal velocity.

This weekend will be a huge test for Auburn, and I have a pretty big concern about this being a lookahead. More on that tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Arkansas Review-Real. American. Football.

"We just threw 9 passes and kicked your ass. How's that for real American football?"--What I wish Gus would have said

So ho hum, Auburn just blew out an SEC opponent on the road. By 18 points. The stadium was a ghost town by the 10 minute mark in the forth quarter.

And Auburn did not even play well.

Yeah. I said it. That was as bad as we have played since the first half of the LSU game.

This was a let down game. Ask anyone who has ever dressed for Auburn who played a game at Arkansas will tell you it is a place to have a let down. And again, this game was never in doubt.

Other random thought:

-Auburn threw 9 freakin' passes in this game. Somewhere a wishbone coach from the late 70's is smiling. The long one to Sammie Coates was a thing of beauty on the back shoulder. I have no idea if it was intentional or if Nick's sore shoulder made that happen.

-Defense must be better against the run. Arkansas ran right at Auburn and had success. Linebackers were not stellar in this one.

-It really looked like Auburn ran about 4 plays in this game. I am sure that is not the case, but we didn't give very much for teams down the road to see.

-Tre Mason is a workhorse. He is so patient waiting for a crease to develop. He has also emerged as a leader. I think that is why we are seeing less and less of CAP, though I personally would like to see both more.

-My kingdom for a cornerback. Auburn is dangerously thin in this area right now. I don't know that it hurts us too much against Tennessee, but those guys need to be well before UGA and Bama.

-Faking injury? Gus says no way. I believe him. It looked like Swain was limping back during the replay. Personally thought the ESPN guys made a big deal about it because the game was not close and uninteresting.

-So that's why he wanted video ofr the swinging gate. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, Coach Bert. And while we're on the subject, is it real American football with all the swinging gates, halfback passes, and onside kicking? Just sayin'.

I have heard some Auburn folks grumbling about this win. To them I say, lighten up. We were due a letdown, we had one, and we blew Arkansas away not playing our best game.

Now on to Tennessee and the worst run defense in the SEC. (Hint: if they are worse than A&M, they are in trouble)

8-1. War Damn Eagle!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Arkansas Preview-A Proud History of Jerkwad Coaches

Bert Biellema has been a burr in the Auburn fans saddle since arriving in Fayetteville. Most recently he complained about Auburn not including thier extra point formations in the game film. We might all think that is silly, but if you consider how many touchdowns Coach B is anticipating from Auburn, it makes sense for him to really study our 'swinging gate' P.A.T. formations.

Yes, it was a dick move to question that publicly in a presser, and it was almost as irritating to suggest Auburn, Texas A&M, and most of the rest of the teams in college football do not play "real American football", but consider for a moment what it means to be an Arkansas head coach. I mean, you pretty much have to be a dick to coach there. Let's look at their recent history...

Lou Holtz

Long Before he was a dick at ESPN, Lou Holtz was cheating up a storm at Arkansas trying to keep up with SMU. He has some sort of weird dislike of the Orange and Blue, so much so that he pretty much picks against them every chance he gets.

Houston Nutt


Houston Nutt is a crazy, lovable dick. I can't really despise him like some of the other Arkansas coaches in this list. Gus Malzahn can probably call him a dick because if Nutt would have let Malzahn run the offense at Arkansas in 2006 he could have been a title contender with McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield. The Hogs were cruising until Nutt replaced Mitch Mustain, Malzahn's choice at QB, with Casey Dick. The Hogs predictably imploded after that.

Bobby Petrino

The most hated dick of the bunch and likely the best coach as well. Petrino pulled the ultimate dick move by hiring his mistress and then taking her joyriding on his motorbike. He then crashed and burned, in every sense of the word.

So Bielemma is just holding up the proud tradition of dick coaches at Arkansas. Unfortunately for him, his team is lousy, and when you are a dick, it pays to have a team that can back you up. He most certainly does not this year.

Auburn shows him what American football is all about by running it down his throat, and stopping Arkansas's only hope in their run game.

Auburn 45
Shredded Pork 21

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Threatdown week 9

Only 1 month left in this amazing season. Let's hope it stays amazing...

Arkansas Last week-BYE. Arkansas has had a week to prepare for Auburn. They needed it. Auburn is better than the Hogs, and that is enough to make me not believe in Fayetteville curses (this year at least). Threatdown Level...Stable, and low.

Tennesseelast week-Blown out by Bama 45-10. The Vols lost their starting QB to a thumb injury and will have a true Freshman starting the game this weekend against Missouri. They are tough at home, and that is still enough to spook me a little. That being said, they looked pretty bad against Bama. Threatdown Level...down a tick.

Georgia Last week-Bye. Georgia gets a few players back after the bye week. They enter the cocktail party with Florida a shell of what they were when the season started. They should win Saturday if Gurley can run the ball at all. Threatdown level...stable.

Bama Last week-Blew out Tennessee 45-10. Is Bama peaking at the right time or are they just benefiting from playing a soft October schedule? The way LSU is playing lately, Bama may not be tested until the Iron Bowl. Threatdown level...Up, and topped out.

We'll preview Arkansas tomorrow and give some commentary on damn yankees.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Florida Atlantic Review-Better Than Expected

Surgeon General's Warning: Taking on defensive backs can be hazardous to your health, Nick.

Cupcake blowout-check.

Auburn took care of business last Saturday night in JHS. Auburn could have sleep-walked through this game, but they decided to come out and score three touchdowns in the first 6 minutes, turning this game into a laugher from the get-go. The Auburn running game is becoming unstoppable, racking up over 400 yards on the ground alone.

My only worry going forward is Nick Marshall being able to withstand the beating he is taking, though much of it Saturday night was self inflicted. Nick chose to take on a defensive back when he could have elected to go out of bounds, banging himself up needlessly in a game that was already out of hand. I know asking him to step out and avoid the hit is tough for him to do, but we need him 100% going forward.

I must admit I was a little surprised that Auburn didn't take advantage a good opportunity to let Nick sit in the pocket and work on his passing game. Perhaps Auburn's coaching staff feels like they run the ball so well that the passing game is well and good enough. Still, there are teams down the schedule, especially one at the end, that will most certainly try and make Nick try to win the game with his arm.

All in all, a very solid performance from the Tigers, and 7-1 complete with a top 10 ranking is sweet indeed. Later this week, we'll talk more about the rest of the schedule as well as the fast becoming most hated coach in the SEC.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Florida Atlantic Preview-This Team Could Pull an Upset (not really)

Let's kill some owls.

Florida Atlantic comes in with a 2-5 record with wins over UAB and South Florida. FAU could easily be 5-2 if they had not turned the ball over in three close losses. So they pose a significant threat to an Auburn team still trying to re-establish themselves as a national...

I can't do it. I cannot sit here and tell you that I am the least bit concerned about Florida Atlantic. They are coached by a Pellini for goodness sake. The only wins for the Owls this year are against UAB (terrible) and South Florida (worse).

In other years, maybe. But not this Auburn team. Not a team that shocked everyone in the college football world last Saturday. Gus Malzahn has done the best coaching job I can remember at Auburn, and he has a team on the precipice of a very special season. He won't allow a letdown.

This staff has taken a group with a wounded psyche and turned them into a contender seemingly overnight. Auburn fans were cautiously optimistic about Auburn coming into the season. We figured we maybe could win 8 games if things fell our way. The rest of the college football world scoffed. Sports Illustrated picked Auburn last in the west.

Somewhere in between the debacle that was 2012 and the start of 2013, college football forgot that Auburn is among the best programs in college football over the last 30 years. They forgot about the two undefeated teams in the last 10 years and 3 in the last 20. They forgot this team was talent-laden with untapped potential.

Most importantly they forgot that it was Gus Malzahn who made 2010 happen, not Gene Chizik. I would argue today that Gus made 2010 happen in spite of Chizik. And if Gus made that happen in 2010 as a coordinator, why couldn't he turn things around as a head coach in 2013?

Auburn won't lose Saturday. Auburn may not lose again this year. They are a team who grows more confident with every weekend. They do it with big boy power running and sheer toughness. They have something that they didn't have last year- guts, and they are not done putting the rest of college football on notice.

Auburn 49
Hootie Who? 14

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 8 Threatdown

It's week 8 already? Man football season flies by when your team is good.

Florida Atlantic Last Week-Bye. FAU comes in at 2-5. Hopefully we see Mr Shakespeare again in this one. I loved all the Bard puns on twitter. Threatdown

Arkansas Last week-Blown out by Bama 52-0. I don't know what to say about this Arkansas team. They have been outscored 134-17 in their last 3 SEC game. The fewest points they have allowed this year to an SEC team is Florida's horrible offense. They get a week off before AU heads to Fayetteville. Better spend it tackling. Threatdown level...A hint of danger, I guess, since the game is in Fayetteville, but if I am being realistic, pretty low.

Tennessee Last week Beat Carolina on a last second field goal 23-21. Is Tennessee getting better? Hard to say. They lost to a Georgia MASH unit at home in OT and they beat SC on a day when Spurrier apparently got started early on his post game Heineken Draught Keg, because the decisions he made during that one made Gamecock fans want to break out a breathalizer. I think they could give Auburn trouble at home. But they are still a bit of a mystery. Threatdown Level...Up moderately.

Georgia Dawgs Last week-Blew a big lead and lost to Vandy 31-27. Tommy Tuberville was quoted in the locker room at halftime of the 2008 AU-Vandy game "Guys, It's F&^%$*n Vanderbilt!" Georgia looked like a contender early, but unless they get some players back in a hurry, it looks like another hot seat next year for Richt. Threatdown Level...sinking like a stone.

Bama Last week-Blew out Arkansas 52-0. Saban is pretty unhappy about the fans leaving early in these blowout wins. But Nick needs to face facts, if you were an 18-21 year old and had the choice between A. Watching the college football equivalent of Ambien or B. Going back to the frat house and doing keg stands, then possibly having a hot co-ed make out with you, which would you do? I would choose B., even if said co-ed had been throwing up for the last twenty minutes. Threatdown Level...Maxed out.

So barring some major catastrophe, Auburn will be 7-1 at the end of October. Wrap your head around that for a second before you consider that right now they will be favored in 3 out of the 4 games remaining after Saturday. I think the potential land mine is in Knoxville. But I will reserve judgement on that until after this weekend.

FAU preview tomorrow, where I will try to convince myself that the Owls are dangerous...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A&M Review-Don't Call It a Comeback, We've Been Here for Years

If you had forgotten what absolute bliss college football can be, you got a piping hot spoonful of it Saturday afternoon. No one, other than those of us in orange and blue, gave Auburn a snowball's chance against Johnny Football and Texas A&M. Pundits laughed about it and dismissed it. People in the national media cannot seem to forgot the train wreck of 2012.

Fortunately, the group of young men wearing that orange and blue have forgotten. After Auburn 45 Texas A&M 41, we all can.

I don't know if I have seen a team with more guts than this one. The 2010 team had guts, but they also had a guy that wore #2 that helped instill courage. This team has a 6 footer who used to play defensive back.

Nick Marshall doesn't make every throw that he should. He puts the ball on the ground too much. But he is cool and collected in crunch time and I cannot think of anyone better to lead this team throughout the rest of the season.

People who thought that the Malzahn offense is of the finesse variety found out pretty quickly in that last drive that this is a power eye from a spread. Sure, there are lots of moving parts and motions and fakes, but this offense runs right at you. Tre Mason was a beast Saturday and is one of the best backs in the country you've never heard of.

Defensively, you cannot say enough about how much better this unit is from the last few years. They make mistakes, sure. But they fly to the ball and make plays. We all knew Manziel and Evans would get their points. What we didn't know was that a fresh set of linemen had plenty enough in the tank to register two sacks in the final moments to seal the deal.

Excited about the win against a top ten team? Now think about this-It will only get better. And if the schedule plays out the way I think it will, we may be looking for an Iron Bowl for the ages on November 30th. But let's not get too far ahead. Tough road games still remain.

The ceiling is so high for this group under Malzahn that I can barely contain my excitement for the future. It is hard to believe that these are the same players we watched perform so futilely last season.

But as Dee Ford said after the game Saturday, and I am paraphrasing here "We are the same players as last year, but we are a different team."

Amen, Dee. Amen

Other random thoughts about the weekend:

-Say what you want about Johnny Football, but he is a gamer and one tough dude. I was dreaming of a 4th quarter runaway after he went out. But then he went in the locker room and grew another arm. They must have shot him up with the same stuff Coach Kilmer used in Varsity Blues.

-That may be the worst defense we have played this year against a DI team. If the Aggs had a funtional D they are likely a Championship contender.

-The old football saying "The team that can run the ball and stop the run will will usually win", and Auburn did just that Saturday.

-The SEC is a crazy league this year, especially after Saturday. Raise your hand if you had Missouri to win the east.And who in the world thought that LSU would go down to an Ole Miss team missing their feature back and a patchwork defense?

-Florida State may be the best team in the country right now. I see them playing Oregon for the National Championship...after we beat Bama.

So with 5 games left, Auburn should be favored in four of those for sure. I still worry about road games in Fayetteville and Knoxville, especially the way Tennessee is playing right now. Let's worry about those games when they get here. Right now, I will enjoy being 6-1.

War Eagle

Friday, October 18, 2013

Texas Aggie Preview-The Long Road Back

I still like him better than A.J. McCarron.

I have heard this week how big a game this is for Auburn's renaissance in becoming relevant again in college football. That may very well be true, but let's keep in mind how far we have already come back from the cellar of SEC football.

Auburn won 3 stinkin' games last year that very easily could have been two stinkin' games. Auburn was shut out of the win column in the SEC, getting absolutely hammered in their last three SEC games.

Now Auburn sits at 5-1, with a chance to have a pretty good season, all things considered. A win tomorrow against A&M and all of a sudden a pretty decent year can morph into a potentially very special one.

For those fans, and there area handful, who are ready for Auburn to head to a BCS bowl this year I say: I think that's great, but let's take a moment to sit back a smell the roses. Gus Malzahn has taken this program light years from where they were just one year ago. He has rebuilt a wounded psyche and made players and fans believe again. Win or lose in College Station tomorrow, Auburn is well on their way back to the top of college football.

As far as the game goes, we have all heard by now the keys to victory. Run the ball. chew up clock. Keep the ball away from the insufferable jerk wearing #2 in maroon.

Easier said than done I say. Alabama's ridiculously good defense full of pro prospects, that have already signed with agents in the weight room, had that plan. The Tide got down 14 early and had to abandon that strategy and elect for a shootout.

The good news there is Auburn is much better equipped for a shootout than the Tide. Better news is that A&m's defense may be the worst of any FBS team on Auburn's schedule this year.

But that damn Johnny Football is good.

Make no mistake, A&M will score points. They have the ability to get them in bunches. Auburn will have to deal with that, and not get demoralized when the Aggies run off a couple scores. It will likely happen.

But Auburn got down 21-0 to LSU in the worst possible way with turnovers and gashing runs, and by the end it was LSU that looked demoralized even in victory, because in the second half Auburn punched the Tigers in the mouth and kept swinging until the final bell.

Manziel also has a tendency to throw the ball up for grabs. So, if Auburn can manage to force a turnover or two, then Auburn's defense can win the day, even if giving up 30+.

The key here is not to get behind. If Auburn wins the toss, take the ball down and score. If Auburn somehow manages to get up on the Aggies, then I think Auburn's run game and ball control gets the Tigers to 6-1.

It can happen people. Believe...


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Threatdown-Week 7

Fair Amount of movement in this week's threatdown. Let's take a look:

Texas Aggies Last week- Edged out Ole Miss 41-38. If not for some horrible play calling on the Rebs last drive (3 straight incompletions on the worst run defense in the conference), Auburn might be playing 4-2 A&M this weekend. Threatdown Level...Down a couple notches

Florida Atlantic Last week-Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Marshall 24-23. Remember when we thought this could be our last win of 2013? It's still possible, but not likely. Threatdown level...bottom basement.

Arkansas Last week-Embarrassed at homecoming by South Carolina 52-7. Wheels are coming off for the Hogs. Here's an eye popping stat that would make Keihl Frazier blush-4 receptions for 30 yards. I've seen wishbone jr high teams throw for more yards. Threatdown Level...Approaching the bottom, but still a bit of danger.

Tennessee-Last week-Bye. The Vols got a week off to lick their wounds, and they had a lot of licking to do. These are not happy times in Knox-vegas. They took it out on the band director this week, which goes to show you there is such a thing as too much Rocky Top. Threatdown level...Stable

Georgia Last week-Lost to Missouri 41-26. The walking wounded at UGA are fast becoming the walking dead. WIth no receivers to throw to, Aaron Murray looked mediocre at best. The Dawgs defense hasn't "hunkered down" yet this season. Threatdown level...Down.

Bama-Last week-Beat Kentucky 48-7. I watched the first quarter of this game. Bama football should be marketed as a sleep aid. Threatdown Level...Unchanged, and likely to remain so until LSU weekend.

Needless to say we'll know a great deal about Auburn after Saturday. More on A&M tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Western Carolina Review

The future is now.

Not much to review about Auburn destroying a really bad football team, except to say that Auburn did exactly what they are supposed to do in this one. Auburn took care of business in this one, and pretty much everything you like to see in a cupcake eating contest happened. No one got hurt. Lots of people got to play, giving way to lots of Shakespeare references.

Most intriguing was Jeremy Johnson's play. Johnson was off the hook good against Western. He threw basically one bad pass all day. His throws were crisp and on target. We can definitely see that he is the future for Auburn football.

How soon that future gets here is the intriguing part. With Nick Marshall's injury, Gus could have elected to go with Jonathan Wallace and beat Western Carolina. He chose Johnson, electing to burn his redshirt. Why? My only answer is Auburn feels like Johnson can help Auburn win sooner other than later, and/or Marshall's injury is more serious than is being advertised. Gus is tight lipped and even a bit misleading when it comes to Auburn injuries. Jeff Whitaker went from day to day to medical redshirt rather quickly

Would Gus have burned the redshirt if Auburn was 3-3? Hard to say. Every coach gets a honeymoon period and most of us would have been happy with 7-5 and a bowl game. But in 2013 Auburn has exceeded and continues to exceed expectations. My bet is that Gus and company feel like they can win every game left on the schedule. If Marshall is truly injured and not just banged up, and Johnson gives Auburn the best chance to win those games, then why not go with him?

I also believe that Auburn has a chance at winning every game on the schedule, including the game at College Station come Saturday. More on why I feel that way later this week. Until then, let's all enjoy being 5-1, having the best rushing offense in the SEC. Things feel right again, don't they?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Western Carolina Preview-Who will Play QB?

What Does Auburn do if Marshall cannot go?

Nick Marshall's knee was hyper-extended in the win vs Ole Miss last Saturday night, or at least we can surmise that based on the replay. How bad the injury is we are just not sure, and Gus Malzahn has been tight lipped in regard to injuries all year.

So let's first talk worst case scenario here, and say Marshall will miss several games and maybe the entire year. Does Auburn burn the shirt on Jeremy Johnson or Do they go will a guy who has SEC game experience in Jonathan Wallace?

My answer is-go with the best one. If it is Wallace, if Gus thinks we can win games with him, let him start. I have heard the argument that we cannot win with Wallace based on how he looked last year.

If that theory was a laptop, Cam would throw it out the window.

Auburn's offensive line is good, maybe one of the best in the conference this year. Wallace will benefit from that. He also had the benefit of spring practice and knows the offense, maybe better that Marshall even at this point. He is a tireless student of the game. We have heard more often than not that he is the first one to the complex and the last one to leave. He has the team's respect. Will he light the world on fire in the passing game? Maybe not. But Nick has not exactly been Peyton Manning this season throwing the forward pass. I doubt there is much separation between the two here.

If Jeremy Johnson is better, if Gus thinks he can win with the true freshman, let it ride. I have heard this week that a true freshman can't win games in the SEC.

Mule muffins.

We have seen plenty of cases over the years where a true freshman won games in the SEC. Manning did. So did Jay Barker in the early 90's. If Johnson is good enough, he can win games for Auburn. Let's keep in mind Auburn may have the best rushing attack in the SEC and we have not asked the QB to do very much so far this season.

The bottom line is, Auburn has two very good options at QB if Nick Marshall can't go.

This is probably a moot point. If Marshall has a knee sprain and needs an extra week to get better, this is a perfect time, because any QB on the roster can beat Western Carolina. If the injury is minor, he should be fine going forward

As far as the game goes, Auburn can name their score against this hapless bunch. I would love to see the starters done by halftime. Happy homecoming Auburn, and War Eagle...

Auburn 55
Worst team in the SoCon-7

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Threatdown

Things are beginning to shape up as far as the schedule goes. Most of us have a better idea of how Auburn will finish the season. That being said none of have the first frickin' clue how Auburn will finish the season.

Western Carolina Last week...Blown out by Chatanooga 42-22. This is a bad football team. Auburn could start Gabe Wright at QB and still win by 35 points. Threatdown Level...Unchanged and nonexistent.

Texas Aggies Last week...BYE. The Aggies got bad news losing one of their best defensive linemen to a knee injury. This is a defense that gives up a whopping 6 yards+ per rush. Still, Manziel is a special football player, and I'm not talking about his obvious case of Teret's. Threatdown level...Down, but still very high.

Florida Atlantic Last week...Beat hapless UAB 37-23. The Owls are getting better, but no way they compete with Auburn. Threatdown level...unchanged

Arkansas Last Week...Lost to Florida 30-10. This game was not as lopsided as the score indicated. Still, Arkansas has lost 3 straight games now, with a lion's share of their tough SEC schedule left starting with South Carolina this weekend. They may be in mental tatters by the time Auburn comes to town November 2. Threatdown level...down.

Tennessee Last week...Lost to Georgia in OT. Tennessee had this game won and blew it. They were an eyelash from wrecking Georgia's SEC and possible BCS title hopes. They get a week off this week before the Gamecocks, followed by Bama. Threatdown level...unchanged

Georgia Last week...edged UT in OT. If Georgia's injury situation doesn't get better, they can kiss their title hopes goodbye. They still haven't managed to stop anybody all season either. They face undefeated pretender Missouri Saturday. Threatdown level...down slightly, but still up there.

Alabama Blew out Ga State 45-3. Bama got up early on this hapless bunch from the ATL and called off the dogs. They continue their joke of an October in the Commonwealth Saturday, so no one will likely notice their deficiencies in the offensive line. Threatdown Level...unchanged and very high

Right now, if I had to ballpark a record for Auburn at season's end it would be 8-4/9-3. I still think the two road games at the beginning of November will be tough. But if Auburn can somehow manage a win at College Station, then I reserve the right to increase that win number.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ole Miss Review: Learnin' to Fly

How many times last week did I hear that Auburn was not ready to take the next step? How many times did I hear that Auburn "upset" Ole Miss in the national media?

Make no mistake. This was not an upset. And Auburn is ready to take the next step.

With the win coming this Saturday over Western Carolina, Auburn will be 5-1 heading to College Station. Barring catastrophe, Auburn will head to November at worst 6-2. Road games at Arkansas and Tennessee loom large, but let's be honest. At this point those are games that Auburn should win. What a difference a year makes.

What Gus Malzahn and his staff have done with this team through game 5 is nothing short of astonishing. That was culminated with a 30-22 win that really wasn't that close last Saturday night. I felt pretty confident at halftime of this game, although the last few minutes gave me some heartburn. Two Auburn turnovers in Ole Miss territory kept this one from being a route.

I have to say, that after seeing Ole Miss in person, I have no idea how they were perceived as a top 25 team coming into the game. They were soft up front on both sides of the ball. Auburn's offensive and defensive lines flat out controlled the game. The Rebs did hit two big plays in the second half to keep it interesting, but for the most part, they were stymied.

Is Auburn's offense a work in progress? Absolutely. Nick Marshall still lacks confidence in his throws and it shows. He "babied" passes throughout the game rather than throwing crisp passes. This was especially evident on his wheel route miss to Brandon Fulse. Even his deep ball to Coates looked more aimed than thrown. These are all things that come with time. I don't expecta guy who was an SEC defensive back two years ago to turn into Peyton Manning overnight. I really think Nick will become a big time name in the next year, if not sooner.

Does the defense give up too many yards? For sure. But consider that the Tigers are 3rd in the league in scoring defense and second in tackles for loss. Now consider that Adams, Daniel, and Lawson have been college students for about 2 months, and you see that the Auburn defense has a pretty high ceiling in the near future.

Make no mistake. This Auburn bunch is gaining confidence by the second, and by the end of the year, may be right back in the upper tier of the SEC.

Other random thoughts from the weekend...

-I picked on Gabe Wright in the preview to Ole Miss. I like my crow with a nice Chianti. He dominated the line of scrimmage Saturday night, culminated by a jailbreak through the line and a shove down of Bo Wallace.

-Anthony Swain played free safety in high school.(!) I saw him play a couple times. I am absolutely amazed at how well he performed at linebacker filling in for the injured Cass McKenzie Saturday night on the big stage, leading his team in tackles no less. Linebacker play has improved over the last few weeks.

-Carl Lawson outplayed Nkimdieche. Did I spell that right? Regardless, Lawson is going to be a a draft pick after his junior year if he wants to be. Can you imagine a high school tackle trying to block this guy last year??

-Fumbles have to stop. Have. To. Although both turnovers are hard to put on the backs. Payne had the ball wrapped up tight and still got stripped. Mason's fumble was a bust in run blocking by the offensive line. Still, if we hang on to the ball one of those times the game gets out of hand for Ole Miss.

-You cannot beat Auburn for a home game. Jordan-Hare is one of the toughest places to play in the country. I took my kids to this one, and could barely hear them yelling in my ear for more cotton candy.

Auburn is now 4-1. Four. And. One. Think about how bleak last year was and tell me your are not happy with that Auburn fans. This young team continues to improve. That feeling you have again inside of you is hope, Auburn fans. Savor the flavor.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ole Miss Preview-Breaking Bears

I hope Saturday ends better than it did for Mr White.

If you think there's not a problem in T-Town right now, you are probably on Blue Meth. But if you are a typical Bama fan, there is a pretty high likelihood of both, I guess.

Bama handled the Ole Miss offense very well last Saturday night. Did they provide Auburn with a blueprint on how to stop the Rebel attack? I would have to say that most likely, no. Auburn doesn't have the Bama personnel on defense, especially considering the injuries that AU has right now. But taking away the outside is crucial to winning the game. We want to keep Ole Miss off of the perimeter.

I may regret saying this later, but Ole Miss has not beaten anybody,(Did anyone catch Texas last night?) and their wins look fairly pedestrian to me. The Ole Miss defense is probably not in the top 6 of teams we will face this year, so look for some points to go up on the board come Saturday night.

I do worry about Bo Wallace and the zone read. He is not what I would call fast, but he handles the ball well and can pick up yardage with his feet. Auburn saw this already this year with Dak Prescott at Mississippi State, who is a load going through the middle. I feel like Auburn will do a better job of containing Wallace than they did with Prescott, who was an unknown commodity when we played State.

My biggest concern for this game is the perceived shakeup on defense. Nosa Eguae has moved to defensive tackle this week, and he is smallish for an SEC tackle. Will he get better production than Blackson? Honestly, he couldn't do much worse. I also noticed that Gabe Wright is listed second on Auburn's depth chart this week. I thought Wright has played well in spots this season, but all things being equal, he is still somewhat of a disappointment, considering his high pedigree coming out of high school. And will Chris Davis be able to provide any help? We need him back, because he defends the pass as well as any defensive back on the roster, and is a run stopper as well.

Offensivley, Auburn needs to keep pounding the running game. I will be sorely surprised if Ole Miss handles Auburn's rushing attack better than Mississippi St and LSU. Auburn should be able to throw the ball on a questionable Rebel secondary, especially if the running game is decent.

I look at this game as a watershed moment for Auburn football 2013. Win and all of a sudden Auburn is 5-1 going to College Station, after a cupcake next week. Lose and all of a sudden the bowl picture looks cloudy.

The home field, where Auburn just doesn't lose to Ole Miss unless Auburn's coach is named Tuberville, pulls Auburn through Saturday, and the Gus Bus keeps on rolling...

Auburn- 31
Mascot Confusion 27

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Threatdown-Week 5

Rebel Black Bears to be precise.

We took a week off from the threatdown for bye week. We're back this week to see how the rest of our schedule looks now after 1/3 of the season...

Ole Miss Last week...Pummelled by Bama 25-0. The Rebs looked pedestrian against Bama though their defense held their own in the first half. Bo Wallace's mouth wrote checks his O couldn't cash. Threat Down Level...Down slightly

Western Carolina Last week...Blown out by Samford 62-23. Not much to say about this poor excuse for a SoCon team. Threatdown Level...Down from Nada.

Texas A&M Last Week...Struggled before putting away Arkansas 45-33. A&M's defense can't stop anybody right now, but they continue to win games. They are pretty ordinary aside from Manziel, and he is much less effective with Evans injured. Hope that he gets well after October 18th. Threatdown Level...Down slightly

Florida Atlantic Last Week...Lost to Rice 18-14. Played a little better defensivley. They'll get ready for Auburn with a visit to UAB. Threatdown Level...Grand Canyon.

Arkansas Last Week...Fought to the bitter end in the loss to A&M. I keep wanting to think Arkansas is not very good, but they scare me, and they showed up and were in the game with the Aggs all the way. Threat down Level...up some.

Tennessee Last Week...Escaped with their lives vs South Alabama 31-24. Right now, nothing sucks like the big orange. And with their October schedule, it's not likely to get better. Threat down level...Down a ton form last time.

Georgia Last Week...Beat LSU in the best game of the week 44-41. The Dawgs don't play a lot of defense, but looked good against LSU's run game for most of the contest. That doesn't play well to Auburn's strength. Threat down Level...up

Bama Last week...Bama turned in an impressive defensive performance against Ole Miss, but still the offense looked ordinary. They are beatable, just not by any team they play in October. Threat down Level...unchanged.

There you have it. I still think every team on the schedule is beatable. Am I saying we win all those? Not likely, but with a win Saturday (more on that later this week) Auburn has a chance to have a very good season in year 1 of Gustav.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

LSU Review-Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

A first half downpour both figuratively and literally.

We came out of the tunnel scared Saturday night. We could all see it on the faces of the Auburn players.

A promising first drive resulted in a fumble on a miscommunication between Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne led to a very quick LSU touchdown. A mishandled punt snap led to another, and Auburn was quickly out of contention. You don't spot a national title contender 3 touchdowns on their home turf at night and expect anything but a loss. Unfortunately, Auburn behaved mentally like many feared they would in the first quarter.

Then something strange happened.

Auburn showed signs of life in the 3rd quarter, and after a quick score, we continued to watch, unlike most of the 'rabid' LSU fans who decided to sit through a rainstorm but leave after things cleared up. By the end of the game, the stadium was half empty, and those that stuck around might have been reaching for the Maalox had the booth review not screwed Auburn.

The bottom line is: if Auburn had come out in the first quarter like they did in the third, the outcome might have been very different.

So will Auburn come out struck with fear/awe of surroundings again? I really do not think so, because the road games down the schedule are not nearly as daunting, aside from the trip to College Station. And even then, Auburn, especially on offense should fare much better against a (being kind) questionable offensive line. Arkansas is always a tough place to play, but Auburn should be pretty seasoned by then, and Tennessee looks pretty manageable, even before they get tenderized by an impossible October schedule.

In a loss in Baton Rouge, this team grew up before our eyes, and future opponents should be on notice that if they sleep on Auburn, they will regret in. Other random thoughts....

--Montravious Adams needs to play more. I know for a true frosh he plays quite a bit, but the defensive line plays better with him in there. He raises the level of those around him. He will be a star in this league pretty soon.

--Get well soon Chris Davis. Auburn needed him as a run stopper and pass defender Saturday.

--Get well Craig Sanders-Auburn needed Sanders Saturday night against the run. We'll need him against the Freeze attack. He3's a firey emotional guy who can make a difference.

--Get well soon Jaylon Denson. Likely not until next season, though. The injury was unfortunate on so many levels, because 1) we need his run blocking 2) if his knee doesn't buckle he probably catches the pass for a first down. 3) He's a good kid who does the little things well.

--LSU read the weather report. Mettenberger threw with a wet ball all week. I''m not saying it helped but you could obviously tell it bothered Nick Marshall.

--Jake Holland. Err...nevermind, the kid has been skewered enough in the twitterverse in the last few days.

So chin up, you orange and blue. We have an extra week to get ready for the Rebels Black Bears. Hopefully, our arrogant cousins to the northwest will bruise em up a little before they head into Jordan Hare.

War Eagle.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dr. Z's LSU Preview-Anger Management

Beats all you ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day he was born.

So Auburn travels to Baton Rouge this weekend to take on longtime nemesis LSU and their felonious running back Jeremy Hill. Hill was given a slap on the wrist for sucker punching a guy outside a bar last summer. Here's a shocker: that slap on the wrist came from a judge who is an LSU alum.

There is even a video of it. If you don't want to watch it, I will give you a quick summation: Hill sneaks up behind a dude much bigger and sucker punches him in the head then high fives all his buds. The guy filming the whole thing clearly calls him Jeremy Hill.

Of course an LSU fan might argue he was just showing the guy what might get you thrown out under the new targeting rule.

All of this might be chalked up under boys being boys, except Hill has been in trouble with law before. He and a buddy allegedly forced a 14 year old girl into performing oral sex in a locker room when he was a senior in high school.

To make a long story short, Hill is a scumbag who is really good at running the football, so LSU and Les Miles kept him around. You might remember a guy named Michael Dyer, another troubled running back, who was kicked off of the Auburn football team for far less egregious offenses. He was also dismissed by Gus at Arkansas State, and after taking time to get his life back together, he now plays for a very good Louisville team.

The bottom line is there are no consequences for Jeremy Hill at LSU. He now understands that he is a star and can do whatever he wants. This guy gives me very good reason to despise LSU and pull against him and the Purple Tigers in every contest this season. On to the game...

For Auburn to have a shot in this game, and I do think they have a puncher's chance, they have to get out early with a quick score. Auburn must also establish a defensive pulse early. They simply cannot wait till halftime make adjustments adjust. Auburn has to be ready to come out and take the fight to LSU.

I've heard all week that this will be a game won or lost in the trenches. I agree with that 100%, but I also feel like the team that gets the best pass rush with the front 4 will have the best chance. Montravious Adams will be interesting to watch in this one. No one has handled him yet and I for one would like to see the kid in the game more. Watching these upperclassmen wallow around on the defensive line grates on me. I say give the young kids a shot if things aren't going well. We cannot do any worse.

The key actors in this one will be the quarterbacks. Is Mettenberger really as good as he has looked all year? Will Nick Marshall parlay his brilliant drive to beat Mississippi State into a virtuoso performance Saturday? Again, pressure will be the key. If Auburn can get pressure on Mettenberger with the front four, they have a chance.

I don't want to dismiss the importance of the running game either, because if Auburn doesn't run the ball a little better, they will be in trouble. If Auburn doesn't stop the run, well, same thing.

Finally, intangibles will play a large role. Will LSU be looking ahead to a huge game with Georgia? How will Auburn's young team handle it's first road game?

I am dreaming of 4-0, but I just don't think we get it this week....

Auburn 21
Morally Bankrupt Corndogs 27

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Threatdown Week 3

Time for a look down the schedule to see where we stand against coming opponents. Last week here.

LSULast week - Blasted Kent State 45-13. This week's opponent looks like a monster, but after TCU fizzled at Texas Tech, the Tigers don't look quite as daunting. More tomorrow on the Bayou Bengals. Threadown Level...unchanged.

Ole Miss Last week- Destroyed Texas on the road 44-23. Everything's big in Texas, including holes in the defense. Still, it is a solid road win for the Black Bears. Threatdown level...up moderately.

Western Carolina Last Week-Lost to Citadel 28-21. I'm surprised the Citadel ever loses. Ever read Lords of Discipline? doing pushups while somebody pees on you is motivation enough to win. Threatdown level...NONE.

Texas Aggies Last week-Lost to Bama 49-42. Johnny Football is entertaining for sure. But the Aggies D made Bama's offense entertaining. You know how hard that is to do??? Threatdown Level....down slightly, but still very high.

FAU Last week-Beat South Florida 28-10. Remember when USF was good? Well they suck now, and FAU tooked care of business, though sloppy. Threatdown Level...Flatlined.

Arkansas Last week-Beat Southern Miss 24-3 Remember when Southern Miss was good? Well they suck now. Arkansas hasn't played anybody decent yet, except for maybe Samford, who is decent enough in FCS. Threatdown level...down slighly.

Tennessee Last week-Lost or Oregon 59-14. Yep, you read that right. The Vols looked overmatched, and I cannot understand how a team with such history and tradition gets embarrased like that. I say that and then remember Auburn in 2012. Threatdown Level...Down a bit from last week.

Georgia Last week- Bye Georgia's D looked pretty good this week. Threatdown level...unchanged.

Bama Last week- Beat A&M 49-42. Bama still has some work to do, even though all the folks here in Bama-ham have already coronated the Tide for their 200th national title. Threatdwn level...unchanged.

Tomorrow, I will preview LSU, and highlight their new convicted felon running back program.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mississippi State Review: Too Close for Comfort

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.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dr. Z's State Preview-Healing a Wounded Pysche

State comes to town this week for yet another SEC opener for both schools. There have been some memorable games in this series and some very forgettable ones (See 2012, 2008). Last year Auburn turned the ball over 5 times and State pulled away for a 28-10 victory. The game was actually close for 3 quarters, but it was the early sign that something very major was wrong on the Plains.

I don't know what to make of the Bulldogs of the west this year and neither do many other pundits, just based on what we have seen so far.

Against Oklahoma State in week one, the Bulldog defense got gashed on the ground by a team that historically likes to throw quite a bit. MSU also looked pretty putrid on offense against a defense not historically known for its prowess. What does all this mean? Likely absolutely nothing.

State will come in ready to play, knowing full well that the schedule looks very bleak down the road. Getting to a bowl game may be a tall order with a loss in Jordan-Hare. They know that as well as the rest of us.

My concern for this game is really not State. I think Auburn has better players, a better coaching staff and a all the motivation to win Saturday. My concern is Auburn's psyche. Auburn hasn't won a conference game since Ole Miss in 2011. In that span most of the games have been lopsided. The Tigers have shown themselves to have the potential to be a pretty good football team in 2013. How will they handle the SEC spotlight? They key to being 3-0 after Saturday night relies squarely on how quickly Auburn's players realize that they are a good football team. A good football team will beat Mississippi State Saturday.

So Gus must do the exact opposite of what Gene Chizik got to do in his first year in 2009. Auburn rolled State in that game because they knew they were supposed to. They had experienced success under Tuberville, and they knew how to win. Gus has a much tougher job to repair the damage of the Chizik era. Saturday night will be a huge test, not because State is a world beater, but because everyone in orange and blue, and I include fans in that, needs to learn to believe again.

Fortunately, as I mentioned before, Auburn has the talent and the coaching staff to make us all believe again. I expect a good showing from the Tigers at night in Jordan-Hare. When it is all said and done, Auburn will be 3-0, and State fans will be wondering what's so great about Dan Mullin. I say...

Nowhere State 17

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Way too Late Arky State Review/Schedule Threatdown

Apologies for being late with the review this week, I just got back from meeting with Alabama's congressional delegation to discuss vision care. Technically I met with their staffers. We didn't see a single congressman or senator. I am amazed that the country seems to be run by 25 year old poli-sci majors whose parents donated to somebody's campaign.

Auburn handled Arkansas State early and we all felt pretty much at ease after 2 quick scores. The running game for Auburn may be one of the best in the conference, with the 3 headed monster of Mason, Payne, and Grant. Throw in Nick Marshall and you have a dangerous run game that can attack you from anywhere.

For that reason I am less concerned about our passing game at the moment. There will come a time this year when Nick Marshall will have to win a game throwing the football, but for now, we should just enjoy this power eye offense that happens to be run out of a spread.

Defensively we still give up too many yards, but hard to argue with 9 points surrendered. As a whole way better.

Now on to the threatdown...

Last week we used the Def-Con system, we'll use the use that as a basis for how I am feeling about the rest of the schedule today...

Mississippi State- Last week- Whipped Alcorn State 51-7. Tyler Russell did not play in this game, still shaking off the cobwebs from his week 1 concussion. Threatdown level--Down a bit, based more on Auburn's easy win vs State's performance.

LSU Last week- destroyed a hapless UAB 56-17. Auburn should be 3-0 going down to take on a scary team at night in Baton Rouge. Threatdown level-up a tic.

Ole Miss Last week-Looked kind of meh in beating SEMO State 31-13. I am not buying stock in this bunch yet. Threatdown level-down slightly.

Western Carolina Last week- Blown out by Va Tech 45-3. Not worth talking about otherwise. Threatdown level-Non-existent.

Texas Aggies Last week-Clobbered Sam Houston St. 65-28. The Aggs haven't stopped anybody's run game yet. They get some players back on defense this week, and they will need them or else they will be totally flukered (see what I did there?) against Bama. Threatdown level- Still very high, but down slightly.

Florida Atlantic Run out of the stadium by ECU 31-13. Cupcake city. Threatdown level-None.

Arkansas Last week-Had to change their shorts after squeaking by Samford 31-21. Hogs almost got caught napping in this one as the Bulldogs actually had the lead in the 4th quarter. Threatdown level-down some form last week.

Tennessee Last week- Beat WKU 52-20. Kudos to the Vols for accepting the 5 first quarter gifts in the first 8 plays from the Hilltoppers. We'll know way more about the Vols after their trip out to Oregon. Threatdown level-unchanged.

Georgia Last week-Beat South Carolina 41-30. Georgia still has some defensive issues to work out, but they looked impressive beating the Gamecocks. Threatdown level-Unchanged.

Bama Last week-Did not play. According to Nick Saban, Unfluckering believable week of practice for the Tide getting ready for A&M. And if he gets one more Fluckering question about off the field stuff he will blow a Fluckering microchip. Threatdown level-Hasn't changed a Fluckering bit.

More tomorrow on State....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Arky State Preview

Twilight has ruined Red Wolves forever .

This is a scary weekend for the Tigers. Not as scary as that crap Twilight* movie the Mrs wanted to watch the other night. Vampires and wolves and vampire babies and vampire weddings. I think Selena Roberts wrote the screenplay. It was as close to watching Auburn 2012 as anything I could imagine.

Gus's old team comes rolling into town with a 9 games winning streak, and a pretty good group of talented players. You might remember David Oku, whom everyone, including Auburn wanted badly.

Needless to say this game has me worried.

It's 1:30 pm on gameday (my apologies, life sometimes supplants my blogging) so I will keep this preview short.

Auburn wins if:

-Montravious Adams improves from his impressive first game performance and inspires some of the other lineman to step up their game.

-Nick Marshall settles down and lets the game come to him.

-The linebackers show up. (my biggest concern right now is this group)

-Receivers help Marshall out by actually, you know, catching the damn ball.

Arky State wins if:

-They establish a running game.

-If they hold Auburn to more than their share of 3 and outs.

-Auburn turns the ball over.

I have heard quite a few talking heads say this one could be an upset. I don't see. Auburn wins tonight, but inside the number...

Auburn 35

Mascot from terrible teen movie- 24

Every once in a while my wife likes to watch these horrible chick movies like twilight. She told me she's also excited about 50 Shades of Grey coming out. I told her I didn't know she was into porn.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Schedule Glance After Week 1

Today we look down the schedule and analyze the threat level of our future opponents based on their performance. We'll use the old cold-war Def-Con system to grade the level of concern.*

Arkansas State: Last week-defeated Arkansas Pine Bluff 62-11 and rushed for over 500 yards. Granted, it was Arky-Pine Bluff, but 500 yards rushing?! My guess is they don't get half of that Saturday. DEF CON 4

Mississippi St Last Week-Lost to Oklahoma State 21-3, and looked bad doing it. Tyler Russell got knocked out and likely will not play this week. At home, I like our chances to whip the Bulldogs. We'll give them a DEF-CON 3, just because they are an SEC team.

LSU- Last week-defeated TCU 37-27, and looked damn impressive doing it. LSU can run the ball and to me appeared be the most impressive team from the SEC in week 1. DEF-CON 1

Ole Miss- Last week-Defeated Vandy 39-35. Ole Miss snatched victory from the jaws of defeat from the Dores in Nashville last Thursday night. They were streaky against a scrappy Vanderbilt team, but they absolutely could not stop the run, so until they can prove otherwise, DEF CON 3

Western Carolina- Last week- lost to MTSU 35-24. Western is a not-even-mediocre FCS team. Good time for a weekend leave. DEF-CON 5

Texas A & M Last week- defeated Rice 52-31. Johnny Football looks ready to torpedo his own team. His antics cannot be good for that locker room. I may even have to (throws up in mouth a little) pull for Bama against the Aggs. DEF CON 2

Florida Atlantic Last week-Lost to Miami 34-6, and looked pretty anemic offensively. Should be an easy W. DEF-CON 5

Arkansas Last Week-Impressive win over La-Lafayette 34-14. Arkansas looked ready to play, which is impressive given all of their injuries. Can Burt actually coach? I wasn't counting on that in the pre-season. After a good win over La-La,and given AU's recent history in Fayetteville DEF-CON 2 for now.

Tennessee Last Week-defeated Austin Peay 45-0. The Vols got an opening win, and they need to win them when they can with this schedule. They have a pretty big talent gap to make up. DEF-CON 3

Georgia Last Week-Lost to Clemson 38-35. Georgia played well against Clemson. Murray was solid as was the run game. Defensively, UGA showed that they are replacing a ton of talent. Growing pains expected, DEF-CON 1, based on what I saw.

Bama Last Week-Defeated Va Tech 35-10. Bama's offensive looked downright bad against Va Tech, who has a respectable defense. Nick Saban predictably bites the heads off of the poor beat writers who have to cover him. Based on what I saw Saturday, The Tide has some work to do. Still DEF CON 1

*I used this imperfect system to grade our chances against these teams. 5 obviously means high probability of a win, and 1, well, you know. This can change week to week, and it ain't perfect, especially after week 1.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Washington State Review: Back to the Business of Winning

Once again, squirrels are no longer safe on Auburn's campus.

I usually wait to write my reviews till Tuesday , because my knee-jerk reaction is often too high or too low. Having taken a minute to digest everything we saw on Saturday night, I reached the conclusion that none of us, not me, not you, (probably) not even Gus Malzahn, has a decent clue about how the 2013 will turn out yet. I saw things that made me optimistic, as well as a few areas where we need to get better and quick if we want to even make a bowl game. The bottom line is you cannot tell how a team is going to fare by the first game of the season. Case in point, raise you hand if after week one of 2012 you thought the season would be a dumpster fire.

I was happy to see Cory Grant get a chance and make the best of it against Washington State. He is Ontario fast, but he can break a tackle as well and my guess is he will eventually be a better asset than Ontario was for this season at least. The running game is general is going to be very good. Washington State stacked the box and dared Auburn to throw it deep, yet still got gashed for the most part on the ground.

The defense, especially in the second half was much better than at any point we have seen since 2010. I like the fact that Ellis Johnson allowed for some press man coverage which essentially ended the Leach air raid after halftime. Three picks (should have been 5 but whatever) is encouraging as well. Robinson Therezie filled in for Justin Garrett so well that we might consider the double star defense from now on, especially the way the linebackers played. More on that in a sec.

Special teams again helps get Auburn a win with no net return yards for Washington State. Not a yard in kickoff or punt returns. That makes a huge different. Mason's kickoff return for a touchdown was a momentum changer that got Auburn going. And how about Chris Davis actually gaining yards on a punt return. It's been since 2008 since we have seen any life there.

Now for the things that are cause for concern, and I mean a big, huge cold sore on a first date type of concern:

Linebackers: Jake Holland, a senior linebacker did not record a single tackle. Not. A Single. Tackle. And the rest of the crew wasn't much better totaling 2 tackles all night. This will cost us a win or two down the road. I have nothing more to add about Jake Holland. He's a good kid, but we need to let these underclassmen play. They are the future and can do no worse.

Nick Marshall: Nick looked like he was funneling 5 hour energy prior to kickoff. He was overthrowing receivers by twenty yards and was firing it in too hard even on short and medium routes. He looked flat out nervous in the first half. He settled down a bit better in the second half, but he still has a huge amount of work to do to make Auburn's offense competitive with the giants that loom later on the schedule.

Receivers: as a unit, they were underwhelming catching the ball and running routes in general to me, and this didn't help Wallace's cause any. You could see Gus doing some serious chewing on Ricardo Lewis on the sideline at one point during the game. I was happy to see that. Thinking back, I always remember Chizik jumping around like a cheerleader on the sideline after something went well, but I never recall him getting on a player for not executing a play.

Auburn got the W Saturday night against a team that was a little better than at least I thought they would be. Mike Leach is a good coach that does a lot with what he has. Auburn is learning how to win again. They took a big step in the right direction in Jordan Hare Saturday night. How far will they go? Hard to say right now. I will say that they had better strap it up against Arky St. They are a good program right now with good players. If you'll remember, feature Red Wolf running back David Oku was a highly sought after recruit who left Tennessee. They are dangerous and have the nation's second longest winning streak. And they would love to hang an L on their former coach.