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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Me & Me Alone

The Sun came up over the horizon Sunday morning. Even though I wished it would take a little longer THIS Sunday. It came in it's appointed time. 

It's bright light brought focus to the dark, drab dawn that existed just moments before. The day was revealed in all the lights glorious shining. The day, as it always has, does not care for any one person, nor any one thing. It is simply, the day.

So it is with Auburn football in Baton Rouge. It does not care for any one person, nor, any one thing. It is simply, football. Or, is it?

This game. This time. It meant more to me than it ever should have. It meant "WE" could finally break the hex that Baton Rouge holds over our Tigers of Auburn. It meant we finally had the pieces to tear down all the old tendencies, all the old failures.

I had traveled through Baton Rouge just two days prior to our boys arrival. A good friend, also an Auburn fan, and an alum, traveled through there the next day. The hex, I told myself, it was done. Finished. Gone forever.

And for the first 20 minutes of the game, that awful hex appeared to be destroyed. Blown to a million pieces.  Then, to my utter horror, the hex healed itself. Resurrected, it came upon our boys with a vengeance. 

Suddenly passes were dropped, play calling went haywire, officiating went awry, allowing a killer 75 yard punt return for a TD, while the yellow flags never fell in any of the blocks in the back. It was simply, football in Baton Rouge.

Team TotalsAULSU
First Downs1714
Net Yards Rushing189157
Net Yards Passing165206
Total Offense Yards354363
Fumbles: Number-Lost0 - 01 - 1
Penalties: Number-Yards6 - 267 - 61
Punts - Yards6 - 2407 - 278
Possession Time30:3029:30
Third-Down Conversions3 of 14 (0.214)6 of 17 (0.353)
Fourth-Down Conversions0 of 2 (0.000)1 of 1 (1.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards4-153-4
Field Goals3-3 (1.000)2-2 (1.000)

I have to resign myself to the fact the Sun does not rise for me, and me alone. Nor does Auburn play football for me and me alone. I just wish Auburn football knew how much beating LSU in Baton Rouge would have meant to me, and me alone.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

LSU loss rapid reaction - You reap what you sow

Yes, I have proudly brandished the title “Creed Monster” when someone who is constantly bashing the Auburn coaches gave it to me after the Mercer game. Today’s loss was a punch to the Auburn Family’s gut. Plain and simple when the halftime quote from your coach to the world is; “We haven’t won here since 1999 and we are up by nine we have everything under control” is announced you know in your heart it is going to be a long week.

That quote from your head coach coming out after halftime will only instill complacency, arrogance and the most damaging is underestimating your opponents will to win. LSU was protecting their house. LSU had a chance to knock off a top 10 team in the nation. LSU just beat their second ranked team in as many weeks.

So yeah, this week, the Auburn Coaching staff gets everything they deserve from every single Auburn fan. This was abject failure on their part to prepare for a second half that every single Auburn fan knew was coming. The sad thing is the only people on the planet that probably did not see it coming was the Auburn coaching staff.

There is no room for complacency, arrogance or underestimating another human being’s will to succeed. That my friends is not within our creed.

I do not blame the players, I do not blame the officials, this game came down to having an amazing First Quarter and then trying to coast into a win as a coaching staff.

This game was as I said a gut punch to the Auburn Family, it was avoidable, it was telegraphed and it may show a flaw within the coaching staff that needs to get addressed. We as Auburn Tigers should never rest on our laurels and should always be on the attack to accomplish our goals and achieve those things that most cannot through hard work and determination.

Keep our chins up – a lot of football left to play. We still control our destiny to win a SEC Championship but we have a lot to fix in the program at the highest levels after this game.

War Eagle


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Tigers Handle Landsharks

Graphic art design by @AURobUSA

It's Sunday morning as I write this. Many of you have more pressing issues to deal with as Hurricane Nate has made landfall on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Prayerfully, all of you are safe and have minimal to zero issues with this fast moving storm. 

On to the game thoughts from Saturdays easy win over the hapless Ole' Miss Landshark by the score of  44-23. Feels weird to type the newly adopted nickname. 

I want to start out with giving Daniel Carlson recognition for becoming the SEC's all time leading scorer. This takes takes a lot of hard work, and focus throughout a career. 

Carlson has been without a doubt amongst the best kickers in college football for four consecutive seasons. That in and of itself is a special accomplishment. Congratulations Daniel Carlson, and War Eagle!

The Auburn Tigers defense wasn't quite as efficient against Ole' Miss as in previous outings this season. They were however, more than capable of keeping the game in check as the offense had its way with the Landshark defense.

Stats provided by the official Auburn Athletics site:
Team TotalsOMAU
First Downs2325
Net Yards Rushing83326
Net Yards Passing346235
Total Offense Yards429561
Fumbles: Number-Lost2 - 00 - 0
Penalties: Number-Yards4 - 303 - 30
Punts - Yards6 - 2673 - 123
Possession Time27:5232:08
Third-Down Conversions8 of 18 (0.444)9 of 16 (0.563)
Fourth-Down Conversions1 of 2 (0.500)1 of 1 (1.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards1-61-9
Field Goals1-2 (0.500)3-3 (1.000)

Kerryon Johnson has been impressive in the past, but not like he was Saturday. He has become a complete back for this Auburn team. Watching him pass block, catch the ball on screens, and run pass routes, it's easy to see he has worked hard at becoming a go to weapon for the Tigers.

Jarrett Stidham continues to look sharp, and increasingly confident in Chip Lindsey's offense. The quick dump passes are making defenses adjust to the motion man, and opening up the downfield passing lanes. We saw intermediate routes run with precision, and some great pass and catch football Saturday.

Auburn travels to Baton Rouge next week to take on the LSU Tigers. LSU won their game against Florida and will want to ride that momentum to victory next week. Auburn must continue to play good defense, and keep improving offensively. The schedule only gets tougher from here on.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Auburn Conquers the Land Sharks

Initially, I had planned on attending this game, but the 11 A.M. Kickoff made the decision for me to remain in Birmingham to watch the game with some family. Auburn went into this game a 22 1/2 point favorite and came away with a decisive 44-23 victory. This game was never in question after Auburn ended the first half with a 35-3 lead. It was apparent that Ole Miss just did not have the talent to keep up with Auburn and I felt that their good players continued the fight only to showcase their talents for other teams next season. I doubt if many of the good SEC caliber players at Ole Miss will play there next season due to the NCAA sanctions and probation.

Here are the highlights of the game and commentary from Rob and Stan from the Auburn Network.

1) Auburn finished the game with 561 total yards. They had 326 yards running the ball and 235 yards passing. Auburn moved the ball at will in the first half and could have scored more points. It was obvious that the Ole Miss players were trying to just get through the game after Auburn put up 35 points on the score board. They should thank Gus Malzahn for putting in the backup players and going conservative in the second half.

2) Kerryon Johnson looked healthy in this game and put on a rushing clinic by running for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns. He now has 12 touchdowns this season. 

3) The Auburn offensive line dominated the Ole Miss defensive front and Jarrett Stidham had plenty of time to find receivers. I feel that Auburn has now found the right mix of players on the offensive line.

4) The Auburn defense did surrender more than 14 points in this game. Of course, 20 of these points came in the second half after Auburn had already started to use back up players. It appeared to me that most of Auburn's defensive players were able to play in this game.

5) Jarrett Stidham continued to play well and was 14 of 21 for 235 yards. He has now completed 79 % of his passes. If Jarrett Stidham has the time, he can carve up a pass defense. I do like watching him throw the ball and he has great arm strength.

6) Stephen Roberts was on the receiving end of a "textbook" targeting hit. A coach could use the video of this hit to demonstrate targeting to his players. The hit actually broke his face mask and he did return to play in the game.

7) Daniel Carlson scored all of the points in the second half with 3 field goals and now leads the SEC in all time scoring with 413 points. I am sure that a lot of NFL teams have him on their prospect list for the next draft.

Auburn will now face LSU next Saturday in Baton Rouge and I am hoping for an afternoon kickoff. A night game in Baton Rouge can be tricky. As we know, Auburn has not defeated LSU in Baton Rouge since 1999 in the infamous "cigar" game. Auburn won that day 41-7. LSU is having issues this season and many of the fans are already calling for a new coach. Could this be the year that Auburn wins in Baton Rouge after 18 years?

Enjoy the week Auburn fans and War Eagle!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Highlights and Thoughts for the Auburn/Mississippi State Football Game

I have to admit that I was somewhat apprehensive about this football game after listening to the hype about Mississippi State after they defeated LSU. Some of the talking heads on the sports talk stations were predicting a big win for Mississippi State. 

Of course, Auburn did leave points on the field in the first half and I kept wondering when and if they were going to put the game away. I felt that the turning point of this game came in the third quarter when Auburn started a drive at their own one foot line and Jarrett Stidham connected on a 57 yard pass to Eli Stove which ended with a 2 yard TD run by Kerryon Johnson. Auburn went on to ice the game by scoring 21 points in the 4th quarter. Auburn has now outscored their opponents 100 to 24 in the last two games and their defense has not given up more than 14 points in a game this season.

Auburn will now face a dejected Ole Miss team in a "brunch" football game next Saturday. There are still games to play and we can now tell what teams are legitimate in the SEC.

Here are my thoughts on the game last night.

1) Jarrett Stidham finished the evening with 264 passing yards and has now completed 72 % of his passes for the season. He hit 4 long passes for 47, 49, 57 and 52 yards and kept the Mississippi State defensive backfield busy all night. Jarrett Stidahm had great protection and the Auburn receivers had time to get open. 

A friend of mine was at the game and the Mississippi State fans sitting near him were amazed that Auburn did not throw the ball on every play. Prior to the Auburn game, the Mississippi State secondary had only allowed 3 passes that were more than 40 yards. 

My game ball goes to Jarrett Stidham and he seems to be getting better with each game. I really enjoy watching him play the QB position.

2) I feel that Auburn may have found a punter. Aiden Marshall, a walk-on freshman, placed two punts inside the Mississippi State 20 yard line and had a nice punt of 47 yards.

3) The Auburn crowd did their job on Saturday night. Mississippi State was flagged for 7 false starts and their right tackle seemed to be having trouble hearing the snap count. 

4) Kerryon Johnson had another great game running the ball even though it was evident that he was still bothered by the pulled hamstring. He has a good vision of the field and will survey the opposing defense before he hits the open gaps in the line. Kerryon finished the night with 116 yards on 23 carries and 3 TDs. Auburn is a different football team with him in the game. 

5) Auburn's defense continues to play well and held Nick Fitzgerald to 157 yards passing and 56 yards rushing. Auburn had 2 interceptions and one was a "pick 6" that put the game away. Auburn has depth on the defensive line and they are putting pressure on the opposing QBs. The Auburn defense has recorded 33 tackles for a loss and about half of these tackles have come from the defensive line. The Auburn defense has only allowed 9.4 points a game so far this season.

6) The Auburn receivers seem to be playing much better each game. They are running good routes and getting behind the defenders. Eli Stove had two catches for 75 yards which included the 57 yard strike when Auburn was on their own one foot line. Kyle Davis had a nice catch for 52 yards, Darius Slayton had 1 catch for 49 yards and Will Hastings caught a TD pass for 47 yards. At one time,  remember that Will was a walk-on place kicker.

7) Malik Wills was able to play some at the QB position had a nice "Nick Marshall" like TD run for 67 yards to make the score 49-10. 

This Auburn football team is fun to watch and I am just hoping that the momentum continues. Also, I would suggest listening to the "Auburn Network" instead of the ESPN talking heads. It is no secret that Rob and Stan do a great job describing the game.

War Eagle!

JHS: Cowbell Quiet Zone

Graphics design by @AURobUSA

 Auburn started it's SEC home schedule Saturday evening and dismantled Mississippi State by a score of 49-10.

Last week we asked you if Auburn had improved offensively, or was Missouri that bad?

Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium we were shown just how much Auburn has improved. With nearly perfect game in all three phases, this Tiger team is trending in the right direction.

The State faithful were left with little reason to clang their famed cowbells.

A missed FG attempt  and two fumbles may be the only flaws in an otherwise masterful performance. 


Team TotalsMSAU
First Downs1814
Net Yards Rushing194244
Net Yards Passing157267
Total Offense Yards351511
Fumbles: Number-Lost1 - 02 - 2
Penalties: Number-Yards10 - 391 - 15
Punts - Yards5 - 2233 - 109
Possession Time34:2025:40
Third-Down Conversions7 of 21 (0.333)6 of 12 (0.500)
Fourth-Down Conversions2 of 6 (0.333)1 of 1 (1.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards2-202-12
Field Goals1-1 (1.000)0-1 (0.000)

Watching the Tigers one-two punch at QB is refreshing as well. Jarrett Stidham went 13 for 16 passing with 264 yards and Malik Willis came in once again in clean up, and put on a show of his own.

Next up are the Rebel/Black Bear/ Landsharks of Ole' Miss. The game is set to start at 12:00 noon ET/ 11:00 CT.

It's an early kickoff, so be ready, and bring lots of sunscreen and your sunglasses.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Improvement? Yes or No

Did we improve that much or was Missouri that bad?

I think this is the question that every single Auburn fan is asking themselves this morning, I know I am, so I decided to put some thoughts out there as I am sure a bunch of us will. The question is not as easy as it seems as most times nothing is as easy as it seems. Life would be wonderful if it was always a zero or a one.

Let’s tackle the “are we that good to start”. The definition of good is “to be desired or approved of.” I think last night heading into the game every Auburn Fan was not sure what to expect. We are ranked 15th, Vegas has us as HUGE favorites (just like last week) and this is against an SEC opponent. For the past two days, I refused to listen to the prognosticators and look at the picks. This game was about “getting better” and “being good.” Let’s face it we have not been good in the past three games. We had parts of the team that were good but we had parts of the team that were mediocre and at times probably could have said sucked. Let’s break it down a bit: The Offense players and coaches, Defense players and coaches, Special Teams players and coaches, and then our Head Coach.

Now it’s time to throw in an analogy.  While in Navy ROTC I met a USMC Colonel who wrote an open column to us while at Auburn. He basically said for you to be a complete Sailor or Marine you had to equate your career/life to juggling. Drop a ball, you are not juggling anymore and therefore you cannot be good or the best because those that are good and the best juggle all the balls and they do it well. The balls we juggled were fitness, education, family and military discipline. I bet you can see where I am going! Yes, in football our team juggles Offense, Defense and Special Teams. The great teams keep all the balls up in the air and do not have any of them dropping. Why did I jump to great? Because, to be a “good” team you must be juggling those balls, you cannot be dropping any one of them and claiming to be good. Good is a place where you are keeping all the balls in the air. Once you can do that then you are ready to to optimize your timing and maybe even start to get a bit fancy to show people just how in command you are. Just to be clear what “great” is I’ll throw this definition in; “of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.” Just so we do not get hung up on what I am referring to.

In my very humble opinion, I saw us juggling every ball last night. Throws were being made, we were closing in the deal the red zone, we were physical, penalties were under control, there was confidence, we were getting them off the field on 3rd down, there was teamwork and most importantly there was ball security and ZERO yes ZERO turnovers after last week where we had five and had a turnover differential of -5 heading into this week (which we are at -1 now)! So, yes Auburn Family we improved, we played well and we executed, we should be very excited for the rest of the season. We should also realize we need to juggle.

Video rights owned by CBS Sports - no claim to rights

Now the second part of the question, is Mizzou that bad? I hate this, as a former athlete when someone makes this statement it hits you at your core. Every athlete believes they are going to win before they step out on the field before the clock starts or the first pitch is thrown. To say a team is “that bad” you are basically saying they don’t deserve a shot to play the game. We play them all and Arizona State took their opportunity and beat a ranked Oregon team as well as Stanford destroyed UCLA and, if you listened to the press on them, their QB could be the second coming - not. So, before you start taking away from our players and loading up on Mizzou players know this - no one gets on a field and says, “Let’s lose today!” Yes, Mizzou was not juggling and they had turnovers, but that is the game. To say that Mizzou does not come out next week and beat a very good Kentucky is just not fair, not fair to them and not fair to their opponents. On any given Saturday while our team is on the journey to attain football perfection you can get beat if you cannot juggle the balls given what your opponent is doing.

Focus on us.  Measure and ask yourself, did we get better? Did we do what needed to be done? Did we exhibit greatness at points in the game? If that answer is yes, then we did improve and we are getting better at juggling and on our way to good with a target of greatness.

So, in short, yes, we improved and got a lot better and no, Mizzou is not that bad, they are on their journey to greatness and in a different place.

War Eagle! Love comments, feedback and even a well spirited debate!



The Offense Wakes Up for Auburn

Ironically, Auburn and Missouri have only met 3 times. I was in my second year at Auburn when Auburn lost to Missouri in the Sun Bowl 34-17. Of course, we can all remember the 2013 SEC Championship game where Auburn won 59-42 and put on an offensive show that day in the Georgia Dome. 

I received reports from Auburn fans at the Missouri stadium that there was a lot of orange and blue in the stands and by the start of the second half, many of the Missouri fans had left for their tail gate spots. I was surprised at some of the predictions that I had heard from the talking heads during 
the week. No one that I heard felt that Auburn would cover the spread and some even called for an upset by Missouri. I sometimes wonder if these people are watching any football games at all on the weekends. 

Here are some highlights from the game:

1) Auburn now ranks 4th in total defense and 7th in scoring defense. This Auburn defense is legitimate and Kevin Steele has done a great job. The Auburn defense accounted for two key turnovers in the first half that did result in touchdowns. Also, I felt that the Auburn secondary did a great job containing the Missouri receivers. 

2) Auburn had 482 total yards. 219 passing yards and 263 rushing. 

3) Jarrett Stidham was 13 of 17 for 218 yards. He connected on long passes of 58 yards to Kyle Davis on the first play of the game, 46 yards to Will Hastings and 57 yards to Nate Craig-Myers. He now 
has now completed 70.6% of his passes for the season.

4) Kerryon Johnson returned from being injured in a big way. He scored 5 touchdowns which does tie the record for the most rushing touchdowns in FBS college football this season. It is obvious to me that Kerryon is the answer when Auburn is in the "red zone". Kerryon did finish the night with 18 carries for 58 yards. Kerryon is in good company. Joe Cribbs scored 5 rushing touchdowns against Vandy in 1978.

5)  Daniel Carlson was able to keep his leg fresh in this game by hitting on field goals of 41, 52 and 54 yards.

Auburn needed a game like this to prepare for the future. All of the back up players got some valuable game experience and Malik Willis was able to take some snaps. Auburn now faces Mississippi State and Ole Miss at home and then they will have 3 road games before they arrive at "amen corner". I will make no predictions, but I now feel much better about the rest of this season. Hopefully, this Auburn football team will now carry this momentum into the game with Mississippi State next Saturday. Perhaps it just took Auburn several games to work out the kinks in the offense. We will know the answer in the next few weeks. 

Enjoy the games and War Eagle!

Total Team Win vs Mizzou

Artistry by @AURobUSA

What a difference a week makes. An efficient Auburn offense, and a stingy defense, lead the Tigers to a 51-14 victory over the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, MO. 

Kerryon Johnson showed zero effects from an injury that had kept him out of the last game as he rushed for five touchdowns on the evening. Two of which came in the first quarter, as Auburn opened up a lead that was too much for the struggling Tigers of Mizzou. 

Stats sheet provided by the AUfficial Auburn sports website.
Team TotalsAUMU
First Downs2221
Net Yards Rushing263124
Net Yards Passing219216
Total Offense Yards482340
Fumbles: Number-Lost0 - 03 - 3
Penalties: Number-Yards5 - 507 - 55
Punts - Yards3 - 1186 - 231
Possession Time34:2025:40
Third-Down Conversions7 of 15 (0.467)4 of 13 (0.308)
Fourth-Down Conversions0 of 1 (0.000)0 of 2 (0.000)
Sacks By: Number-Yards2-171-11
Field Goals3-3 (1.000)0-0 (0)

Daniel Carlson was perfect on the night, going 3 of 3, and helped seal the win with two Field Goals of 52 yards, and 54 yards.

The Auburn defense continued their stellar play by allowing just 124 yards rushing and creating three turnovers. 

It was a complete team win. Next week Auburn hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kick off is set for 5 pm CT and the game will be televised on ESPN.