28 November 2009
There's a new post up over at the War Eagle Reader today. They do a great job on that site, and today's entry is no exception. The argument made there is that Alabama was out-coached and out-performed by Auburn Friday. Additionally, they make the argument that last year's whipping was a fluke - this series will be competitive long term.
First, let me say I was exceptionally impressed with Gus Malzahn and company yesterday. I looked at my buddy halfway through the first quarter and told him I couldn't wait for Gus to get a head coaching job - anywhere else. By the end of the first half, Auburn had run so many trick plays, the straight plays were the tricks.
But, let's be honest... While it was an impressive display, there's a reason teams don't run trick play after trick play like that; they're high risk. That none of Auburn's trick plays blew up in their face yesterday (including all those reverses, the Burns passes, the on-sides kick) is a miracle. I think the worst outcome on any of those plays was an incomplete pass.
Additionally, if Auburn has the ability to stop the run like that why hadn't they done it all year? I know that the 5-2 was a new wrinkle yesterday, but that's the question I'd be asking if I were an Auburn fan. It was a truly impressive display, made baffling by how inept that same defense looked against Kentucky and Georgia.
Additionally, it looked like Auburn had gone to the Les Miles school of clock management at the end of the game. They seemed shocked that the clock started after the procedure penalty and were slow to get plays in; sins especially shocking considering the frenetic pace that their offense advertises.
These are the things that would concern me if I were an Auburn fan.
However, on the whole, Auburn played as well as I've seen them play all year. They were clearly up for the game, and Alabama guys came out flat (which is enormously irritating for Tide fans - it's too often the case that the opposing teams come out with more fire and passion that the Tide).
Anyone who thought that 36-0 was a beginning of some sort of dominance over Auburn is exceptionally naive. They days where one of these two programs can just whip the other for 5+ years (the 6 before last year not withstanding) are over, barring catastrophic hires and exceptional, once in a generation talents.
In the modern era, this game should be a hard-fought, close game year after year. Especially when you consider that both these programs pack stadia with 90,000+ screaming fans and make it difficult for the other team to operate. It still remains to be seen if the gambles taken by Auburn (the hiring of Chizik and Malzahn) will pay off. If they do, then this will be a very competitive series for years and years.
And it's going to be great fun.
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