Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Sunday, 25 September 2011
It took me 20 minutes to think of how to start this post, I usually try and find the bright side to everything in life, even when you lose you can't help but bring out the sunshine pumper in yourself and say something like "at least we didn't lose" or "he played well, that's a good thing isn't it?".
Offensively we were poor yet again yesterday. The play-calling was beyond confusing and it seemed almost vanilla to me. We seemed to run the same plays, which were Dyer up the middle, bubble screens to Reed, wildcat with Bray and the occasional pass downfield, whenever our receivers were "open". Trotter looked average to me last night, this was not his best game and I have been behind him for a while and in all honesty it looks like we have reached the ceiling with him. Barrett can make some throws, but at other times he looks as indecisive as Brett Favre. As I watched him, there were numerous times when he couldn't make a pass because he either couldn't find open receivers, or FAU really did do a good job of covering our receivers, I really don't know which one it was, I hope our receivers aren't that bad.
Is it time to give Frazier a start? Kiehl did well running the ball last night and looks confident when doing it, almost Cam-esque. Frazier brings a lot more to the offense, and I honestly think sooner or later Gus will throw Frazier into a full series against an SEC opponent. Can't hurt can it?
What happened to Dyer's thirty carries a game? To be fair, there is no use risking him to injury in a game like this when our October stretch is coming up, but when he did run nothing seemed to open up for him, and that falls on the offensive line. The blocking was horrendous, as numerous times the pocket was collapsing and we had to take the sack. There was no aggressiveness on the line last night, and that is really, really concerning.
Defensively it was all the same yet again, although in retrospect the tackling did look a tad better and one person that did impress me with his tackling was Therezie. He was always in the right place at the right time and even prevented a touchdown run through the middle. I think he needs to hold a tackling clinic for the team one of these days.
FAU had the worst offense in the country when they walked into Jordan-Hare, and it's as if we just called them up and said "Look, I know things aren't going your way but we will help boost the confidence of your players by letting you get some yards on us, this can hopefully kick-start your season".
It's frustrating having to write out the same old deficiencies that are evident in this team, we are trying to simplify the playbook but if we simplify it anymore there will be two plays left on offense called "run" and "pass".
I find it hard to believe that an "elite" coaching staff like ours would allow performances like this. I don't believe that Gus is keeping his playbook to himself before October because teams have already sussed out how to stop us. Defensively, we can't even function at an average level right now which is incredibly dis-heartening.
Last year, we were able to outscore opponents because of our elite offense, but if teams are able to stop our offense more frequently then we won't be winning many more games. We can't keep calling ourselves "young" because that can't be a free pass to keep playing football at a poor level. We played Florida Atlantic last night and won by just 16 points, which is nowhere near good enough.
It all gets tough from here on out. Seven of our next eight opponents are SEC games and only two of them are at home. Ask yourself the question, where are the next wins going to come from? Samford? Ole Miss? Thats two...If we could win at least 2 more SEC games that would be excellent. I'd certainly take that right now. I think we have a good chance against Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida and even South Carolina. Stephen Garcia doesn't look very good right now. Forget about LSU and Bama because those two are on another level right now, hell even Arkansas will play us tough because they always do. The season is not over yet, and believe it or not progress CAN still be made, I haven't lost faith just yet.
In Chizik's post game comments he always points out the obvious, but week in, week out we don't make the necessary changes to become a better and more efficient team.
You know it's funny, Chizik always goes on about carrying the torch for former teams and players, and that Auburn was "made great way before you got here".
Well guess what Gene, we had great defenses before you got here too, one of which was yours.
Get it done.
Friday, 23 September 2011
I haven't many any SEC picks this year so I think it's about time I do some. There are plenty of interesting games this week, especially in the SEC and I'll do some quick predictions on all of the interesting games.
My Auburn - Florida Atlantic preview/predictions (If you want to read them) are here
14 Arkansas vs 3 Alabama
Both teams will have to play towards their strengths if they want to win, Arkansas will have to get their WR's in space to make plays which I think will happen, but the question is how much? Alabama has a physical defense, and this will be the first real test for the Tide.
I think Alabama comes away with a win here, I just don't see Arkansas winning (they always crap the bed agaisnt Alabama it seems)
Prediction: Alabama 28-17 Arkansas
(Just a sneaky stat, but Arkansas is 175-82-3 all time when ranked in the top 15.)
15 Florida vs Kentucky
Florida have had an impressive start to the season, and that will continue as they defeat Kentucky tomorrow, on the road.
Prediction: Florida 31-16 Kentucky
2 LSU vs 16 WVU
I'll start off with the (Insert popular comment about both sets of crazy fans here). LSU needs to keep on winning if they want to continue challenging for the West. They have an incredible defense (yet again) and West Virginia should be a good test for them. I see LSU win this one on the road, but it will be closer than some expect.
Prediction: LSU 20-13 West Virginia
They were quick and to the point like I wanted. Tomorrow will be an interesting day for all sets of fans. One thing is for sure though, by tomorrow evening one team's SEC West hopes would have taken a blow.
Thursday, 22 September 2011
As we enter Week 4 of the wonderful and illustrious college football season a lot of Auburn fans are frustrated with last weeks performance. They are frustrated with our lack of basic fundamentals, including alignment and most important tackling, and I am right there with them. We aren't a young team anymore, we can't continue using that as an excuse, the more experience the players get the better, because nothing breeds confidence in your play like pure, in-game Division One football experience.
Am I worried? I'd be lying If I said I wasn't. My Twitter account has been my main way of expressing my frustrations with the team, questioning the lack of basic defensive coaching as well as trying to figure out why we still can't tackle properly. Some of these players have been in the system for quite a few years, including veterans like Neiko Thorpe for example. I understand Neiko is playing a new position but ask yourself this very honest question.
Would any of our defensive players START for any other SEC team right now not named Vanderbilt? Heck, why am I even slandering the Commodores? They are 3-0 and are having their best start in quite a while.
I don't mean to come across as negative, or critical but sometimes you have to be. I am still currently behind the coaches, but when I read what they are teaching the players it just makes me scratch my head in confusion. Where is the grit? Where is the fight? I am usually a positive person and I try to be find the best out of every situation but right now, there is no bright side from being the 117th worst defense in the country. If you don't believe me click here.
Rant over, this saturday we face the powerhouse that is the Florida Atlantic Owls. They come into Auburn with the 107th worst defense, and the very worst offense in the entire country. Does that mean we will give up points? Probably, I will be disappointed if we give up more than two touchdowns to a team this bad. We will still probably rotate in and out quite a lot but if we can give up less than two touchdowns that would be a step forward, but we won't even truly know that until next saturday in Columbia.
I have no doubt we will win, but this game in particular I will be looking for improvement on defense (duh!). I understand that we won't turn into a defensive powerhouse over a week, and playing Florida Atlantic won't show that improvement very much, but we desperately need some players to step up and become leaders. I don't care if they are true freshman or seniors, but a few players need to be more vocal, get in the faces of those doing things wrong, act like on-field coaches and just stabilise the defense. That will be key if we want to see improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
It is now up to Chizik to make the necessary changes to a team that needs them. Right now, we are on pace to win maybe five, six games unless we show some improvement on defense. Our offense can't always bail out the defense, and wouldn't it be nice knowing that we have a solid defense to rely on if things aren't working offensively? Take 2007 for example, the offense was borderline average but the defense was able to win us a few games that year. I'm not asking for a dominant defense, but a competent unit that we are able to rely on if things are going smoothly on offense.
The season isn't over yet, and I won't be pulling out the gun unless we lose this weekend to FAU, which I doubt even happens (even if we were to play an all-freshman team).
My official prediction for this game will be 49-17. Until I know for sure whether the defense is improved, I think we give up around 17 points to FAU which would be an improvement over the last few weeks. We need to stand up and be counted, these players can no longer act like boys....they need to start playing like men.
Sunday, 18 September 2011
As I write this there are certain ways I could address the game and our issues, on one hand I could go on about how bad our defense has been and is getting and then cry for Roof's head like every other Auburn fan seems to be doing, or on the other hand I could look at this objectively and try to keep a positive view on the rest of the season. Let's try both.
Yesterday's game was nothing less than a shambles. Earlier in the day, my english soccer team Arsenal were up 2-1 and then imploded the same way defensively and lost the game 4-3. That shouldn't have happened and neither should this. Auburn lead by 14 points TWICE but still couldn't hold onto the lead. We seem to play better when we are behind than when we are ahead doesn't it? We almost went into over-time last week after being up by 14 points, if it were not for Ryan Smith's heroic goal-line stop. What is the issue here? Are we young? Are the players ignoring what the coaches are telling them about how to tackle? Or are Clemson just that good?
Offensively, it was not out greatest game. The biggest positive is that Dyer is proving yet again why he might be the best RB in the SEC. He has everything you want, power, agility, ability to break tackles and home run speed. He really is special, and is evidently the bright spot on offense. I think Trotter had a good game, sure he threw the interception but every quarterback throws those. Cam threw one against Clemson last year, remember him? I think he's playing in the NFL now, if I remember correctly. Trotter can make some nice throws, and I hope we stick with him as the season goes by. He is a leader and believe it or not he did lead us to victory against Utah State.
I knew going into the game we would give up a lot of points, I predicted we would give up 35 points but also score 45 ourselves. I didn't think it would be a blowout and frankly that's not how Auburn does things.
Ever since half-time struck at last year's Iron Bowl, Auburn's defense played really well the rest of the season. They gave up 3 second half points to Bama, 17 points in Atlanta and limited Oregon's fast paced/productive offense to just 19 points. We seemed to be hitting our defensive peak just at the right time last season which helped us win the BCS National Championship.
Ever since then, the defense has been less than impressive...in fact its been pretty awful hasn't it? Giving up 38 points to Utah State, 34 points to MSU and 38 points to a struggling Clemson is not what anyone wants. Sure, we lost a lot of players and the replacements are young, I myself has been beating this drum since the season started, about how the team is young and should be improving but three games in we look like a .500 team. Are we over-reacting because it's our first loss in so long? That is a possibility, Auburn fans have been used to having the luxury of winning games even in a close fashion, and that has always been the positive from our seeming glaring weakness of a poor defense.
Is this Roof or Chizik's fault that the defense is so bad? I could easily blame either of them, but let's just go with the norm and point the finger at Roof shall we? The Tampa 2 defense is a fine defense, and Chizik is one of the college coaches that has executed it so well in the past at places like Texas and Auburn. There is not an issue with the defense, but rather the fundamentals and more importantly the coaching. As I wrote in the article about the Tampa 2, it requires the defense to have sound tackling, something Auburn clearly lacks. We were in several positions yesterday to get tackles for losses, sacks, interceptions etc. but we hardly made any of them, which is not going to get it done. After the game, Chizik said this:
"I'm going to really have to evaluate everything and I'm going to look at some things"
What does this mean? Does it mean Chizik will take over the defense from here on out and attempt to salvage what we have left of the season? I'd like to think so, who knows what the coaches plan to do now but they will tell the players that the season is still not over even with a loss on our schedule. Chizik now has to find a new plan for the defense and I trust that he will. We have the talent, but have lacked the key fundamentals for us to get the required stops that we didn't get yesterday. Here is a tweet I saw yesterday that gauges how bad our defense really has been, and could be:
"Auburn Defense has given up 1,603 yards and 110 points in three games. On pace to give up 6,412 yards and 440 points, which would shatter record"
Pretty incredible huh? Here is a graphic that I also found on a message board yesterday, you really do find some funny stuff on these things.
That just signifies the importance of Gene Chizik right now, he MUST make the correct changes if we are to get some more wins this season, he simply must. We aren't playing Auburn defense right now, not even close.
We haven't even hit the toughest part of the schedule, but ask yourself where are the rest of the wins going to come from? Florida Atlantic, Samford and Ole Miss should be wins, so that gives us 5. I think/hope we will surprise a few other teams and come away with 7-8 wins, that is still a possibility even with how bad we played yesterday. It isn't likely, but still a possibility.
But, we will continue to carry on as always and focus on the next week. Next week we play Florida Atlantic, which I hope we can get a win from, (Am I kidding there? Do you think I am?) it should be a chance for the team to regain its confidence and for the younger guys to get more needed in-game experience. Let's try and salvage our season, because it isn't over yet, it isn't as if we are 0-3 (although we easily could be).
Just remember, at least you aren't an Ole Miss fan.
P.S I've been waiting a while for this: DLLOOOOO
Thursday, 15 September 2011
Former Auburn Tigers RB Darrell Williams of the 1989 team talks about the upcoming game this weekend against Clemson. He compliments Utah State, Tre Mason etc. Everything he says I pretty much agree with, including his thoughts on Clemson, take a look!
(Yeah, I know the Zaxby's commercial looks good, I'm quite hungry now)
Can you believe we are half-way through September? Feels like just yesterday we were getting excited for the opener, gearing up for the Aggies. Time flies doesn't it? Well, its still only the third game of the season, and this weeks Clemson game is one of the very few Auburn games which will show up on my TV, hooray! Will feel good to watch Auburn in the crisp setting of a HD television, the way the Auburn Tigers should be seen on.
This Saturday Auburn plays their first road game against Clemson, a team that has been struggling mightily the last few weeks against teams like Wofford. They barely beat them last week and are favoured by Vegas over Auburn by -3.5, I'm not surprised by this, even through Clemson's struggles and Auburn's will to win the Tigers (the blue kind) are still a young team that is yet to play their first road game together. No one knows how the players will fare in a hostile environment they can't call Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Even though Dabo and the Tigers have been struggling as of late, there is no reason to think they don't have a chance. Sure, we have been playing better football but we are going into their house and playing against a team with some viable weapons. Ellington is a fast, elusive runningback that can break off a play whenever he finds space and momentum, as well as a few big receivers in Martavis Bryant (6'5) and not to mention true freshman Sammy Watkins, who is just filthy. You would be silly to think we won't give up quite a few points to this team, who are still a threat to anyone.
I'd love to put out a great defensive performance but until I do I won't expect one. Getting run up the gut is what Utah State and MSU did against us so well, so expect to see similar plays from Clemson against this defense. Offensively it will be like it was last week, Dyer making the odd play, McCalebb scooting around and Trotter making the adequate throws. If we could create a deep threat at wide receiver that would be splendid. The probable man for this is Benton, who we have yet to see catch a ball this season. Emory Blake has become a huge play-maker at wide receiver so thats another positive.
As for Auburn, this is a time to show some consistency with our play. We played a much more hard and physical game last week against MSU, we must keep it up this week on the road. Clemson want some revenge and I feel like we need to start out hot like we did last week. Get a few quick stops on defense and capitalise off of them, that way the confidence can build and we can keep on scoring throughout the game.
The only thing I worry about in this scenario is Gus Malzahn, because whenever we seem to get up by a lead the play-calling seems to become much more cute and ineffective. Setting a receiver screen on 3rd and 10 isn't exactly a solid call unless you are throwing it to Calvin Johnson. It becomes what some like to call "Tubershelling". It's as if you were sitting on a certain lead and throwing out play-calls as if you are throwing away last weeks leftover turkey.
Both teams need to continue winning but for Auburn notching every win we can will do wonders for our season, including what certain "mediots" predicted. I never thought we were going to finish 4-8 or even 5-7 so winning games like this will be big, especially games on the road. We haven't proven anything yet, so lets go out there and prove that last week wasn't a fluke. We shouldn't lose to the Auburn imitators this weekend, and I don't expect to either.
Clemson hasn't beaten Auburn in the last fourteen meetings (last win by Clemson was 1951!) and the past two meetings have gone into over-time, both resulting in Auburn victories. No reason why this one shouldn't be a similar outcome, I don't see us blowing out Clemson but I certainly don't see us losing to them either, even on the road.
Final Prediction: Auburn 38-28 Clemson
The game will be close, but I think Auburn snatches it out in the end, just like always. No reason to pick Auburn to lose until they actually do. I still think we lose at least four games but I really don't see this being one of them.