Thoughts Week 3

So here I sit in the Opelika Marriott after a big win for Auburn.  I didn’t go to sleep last night until 2am, yet I woke at 6am with Auburn, college football, and life on the brain.  What made it a big win for Auburn?  A victory over Clemson?  Coming back after a horrible first half?  Putting up nearly 400 yards of offense in one half?  Persevering until the end while fighting off a fierce and determined Clemson team?

That’s not what made it big.  The big win came sitting next to me.  Two 17 year olds with blue and orange face paint.  A boy and his girl one airplane flight from Ohio.  Nebraska fans.  Been to 17 Nebraska games in their short lifetime.  The boy’s aunt went to Auburn years ago, and she asked them to check out Auburn before penciling their names on a Nebraska application.

By the end of the game, the boy and the girl both decided to come to Auburn.  They had never seen a football atmosphere like that.  They had never met fans like Auburn fans, which was said after the girl complained of not having anything to drink late in the 4th quarter because the vendors were sold out of water bottles.  Which was when I went and bought them both souvenir cups full of ice.

And the end of the night, I looked at those two and across the stadium at the recruiting section and thought, “How big is it for recruiting – athletes, students, and fans – to see Auburn show their true colors in this kind of electric atmosphere?”

Auburn…

– Houston, we have a problem.  Our offense looks like a high school offense.  Our defense still looks like a Ted Roof defense.

-How is it a high school offense, you ask?  Because it doesn’t have much strategy or planning behind it.  Or at least, that’s the way it appears.  It’s not a good thing when a 26 year old English teacher can call plays before they happen.  As my friend sitting next to me said, “It’s no longer luck when you’re getting them right almost every play.”  Kodi Burns is in?  McCalebb is going to come across and either take the handoff or Kodi will take it up the middle.  College defenses can adjust to that.  Cam’s under center?  Dyer up the middle.  Cam’s dropping back to pass?  He’s going to hold the ball until he can throw it deep.  Trips left?  Quick screen.

-It’s not so much the predictability as it is the lack of coherency in the gameplan.  2nd down in overtime and we’re doing the Kodi/McCalebb option.  2nd and short and we’re running a draw.  Clemson’s blitzing like hell and we’re trying to throw a deep ball.

-Also, point proven about Cam wanting to go deep – in overtime, Zachary was wide open for the touchdown but Cam threw it to a covered Darvin Adams.

-We can’t keep relying on our skill guys to go up and make plays.  You have to outsmart the defense in order to be successful in the long term.

-As for the defense, well, nothing new.  We aren’t tackling as solidly as we should.  We aren’t covering receivers.  But we are getting better.  I can’t knock the defense as much anymore.  It’s hard to shut down a great quarterback with good running backs when your offense isn’t giving you anything to work with.

Clemson…

-Not too damn bad for a mediocre ACC team.  Isn’t this supposed to be the laugher conference of the year?  They’re a good football team, and I really think they’ll win the ACC if they stay healthy.

Alabama…

-You’re not the best offense of all time.  But damn all mighty you might just have the best offense in the country this year.

-I’m not going to give in to the criticism because I think Alabama has a fairly unstoppable offense.  Perhaps McElroy and the receivers will make some mistakes, but the running game is going to pound all opposing teams all game long all year long.

-To beat this team, you’re going to have to work for a shootout.  Arkansas as the offense to do it as long as Mallet can shake off the blitzes and make good throws.

Ohio State…

-Marshall, Miami (Fl), Ohio, Eastern Michigan.  I’m noticing a trend.  Illinois.  Hmmm.  Indiana?  Wow.  The schedule closes out strong, if you’re a Big 10 supporter, but damn if that’s not one of the easiest starts in the country.  Has Pryor racked up enough stats to get a Heisman nod?

Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Kansas…

-Could you be any more of an embarrassment to the FBS division?  These four schools have not only made a lash on the BCS argument, they’ve made four different conferences look silly for claiming any kind of conference superiority.

-Ole Miss has now lost to Jacksonville State (extreme embarrassment) and Vanderbilt.  Is Vandy the bigger loss?  I mean, I could understand getting shocked by Jacksonville State, but you’ve played Vandy every year.  You should know what’s coming.

Florida

-Another slow start saved by a great defense.  Florida is riding on a cloud of luck, and I’m afraid to think of how bad it could be in Tuscaloosa in two weeks.  You can’t expect to beat any SEC teams while making that many mistakes let along beating the #1 team in the country.

The Pac 10…

-This is college football.  Students.  Kids.  I know there’s big money involved, but you’re dealing with college students participating in an (supposedly) amateur sport.  That’s the reason why you don’t schedule games at 11:15et when the team graciously travelling to your Pacific region is from the eastern time zone.

Michigan State…

-This wouldn’t have been here if I had completed this yesterday morning, but your overtime decision to fake the field goal for the win almost killed your coach.  Literally.  Suffering a heart attack at 54 is nothing to laugh at, but it gives new life to Fred G Sanford.

USC…

-Almost lost to Virginia.  Almost lost to Minnesota.  But year.  Kiffin’s a great hire and NCAA sanctions don’t hurt anybody.

Final Thought…

-Students.  Kids.  It’s what we all revert back to when we travel to our old college campuses.  Going back to Auburn reminded me what it was like to be a college student.  It’s been a while since I had gone to Auburn not just for a game but for an entire weekend.  It’s a place and time to let loose and not worry about the house, the job, the dog, or the bills.  It’s a place where the menu doesn’t matter as much as the atmosphere.  It’s a place where people can congregate together and have a good time supporting a team that you love.

-For that reason, I’m going back next weekend willing to drop another couple of hundred dollar bills.  The boy sitting next to me may have been recruited to Auburn for the first time, but I must say, I was renewed in my love for that town during game time.

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