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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES

Gus Malzahn is looking forward to SEC play




The Game That Was

     A quarterback showing signs of brilliance, a defense standing tall, an offense beginning to click, a team starting to believe. These are just some of the things I saw as Auburn took on the Arkansas St Red Wolves this past Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
     While there were still mistakes made, the strides this group of Tigers made from game one to game two were huge. Yes I said HUGE!!  And in my humble opinion it will only get better as the season progresses. From the coaching up of players to a team playing with heart and determination this is a vastly different team than we saw last year. A win this week and Auburn accomplishes two very significant goals. First, we match last years win total. Second, we end a 10 game SEC losing streak.
The Quarterback
     Quarterback Nick Marshall showed a great deal of poise under pressure, using both his arm and his legs to direct an Auburn attack that generated nearly 500 yards of offense. His pass to Sammie Coates down the seam for 68 yards and a touchdown was an absolute thing of beauty. Coates never broke stride as the ball softly landed in his hands allowing him to simply run away from the defender for the score.
     Long runs around the end showed Nick’s quickness getting to the corner and his speed after turning up the field. With him getting into the flow of the game you could see both the athleticism and natural talent begin to manifest itself in a positive manner. I believe that will continue to be the case and he will continue to improve each game.
The Running Backs and O Line
     Auburn’s 3 headed monster at running back once again showed why we are called Running Back U. Corey Grant, Tre Mason, and Cameron Artis-Payne ran through, around, and over the Red Wolves defense on the way to a 300+ yard rushing night. Anytime you can do that as a team you put yourself in a position to win.
     And of course that all starts with the "big uglies" up front. As the game progressed the O Line began to really take control of the line of scrimmage. That was something we desperately needed and should really be a nice shot of confidence going into Saturday’s SEC opener against Miss St.
The Defense
     What can you say about the play of the defense? Well, how about it was STELLAR! Chris Davis was a man amongst boys Saturday night. Double digit tackles, pass break ups to stop drives, and a presence on the field that showed maturity and leadership.
     The D Line spent the evening establishing a new line of scrimmage 2-3 yards in the Red Wolves backfield. The linebackers made play after play. What an improvement from game one.
Sure we gave up over 400 yards but inside the 30 the defense was relentless and unbreakable. We just need more consistency between the 30′s.
     Stops on multiple 4th downs, sacks in critical situations, 13 tackles for loss, and most importantly ZERO touchdowns allowed, showed that this defense is headed in the right direction. Remember that just the prior week this Red Wolves offense had 4 backs rush for over 100 yards EACH. On Saturday as a team they could only muster 150 with nearly half of that coming from the quarterback. A lot of those yards were gained while he was running from the relentless pressure being applied by the defensive front.
Where To From Here
     2-0! Sounds pretty good to this fan. As you know you can’t win ‘em all if you don’t win those first two. Do I think Auburn can win every game? My orange and blue heart says yes. My more analytically thinking mind says we aren’t quite ready to compete with the likes of Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU, or That other school in the state. But I also wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we stole one from that group of 4.
     With Coach Gus leading the way the sky is the limit for this group of Tigers. They are being coached up in a way we haven’t seen in a while. Players seem to know their roles and everyone is doing their part. There is no hanging their heads after a missed assignment. They just go back to the huddle and come out and make a play on the next snap. I like that.
     The true tests of how far we have come in this short period of time begins this Saturday. A convincing win could set this team up to do something special. A loss could lead to doubt, doubt to poor play, poor play to more losses. I just don’t see this staff allowing that to happen.
     The will to win is strong in this team. Their dedication, desire, and devotion is not going unnoticed. They will overachieve. They will beat someone they are not supposed to beat. They will shock the college world. They will know all along they could do it.
We believe in AUBURN and LOVE IT!!
War Eagle everyone. Let’s go beat State!!
by: Rick Palmedo
follow Rick on twitter @tgrfan89
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