Monday, December 30, 2013

The National Championship Preview: FSU vs Auburn Special Teams

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In case you missed it, make sure to read my other two posts thus far!
Auburn's Offense vs FSU's Defense
FSU's Offense vs Auburn's Defense

I admit that I haven't done any research on FSU's abilities on special teams. Obviously, they haven't leaned on them to win any games this year. In fact, they have rarely had to use special teams at all, aside from a lot of kick-offs. So, let's not speculate.

What about FSU? Well, that's the thing. They haven't had to punt very much. He has half the punts of Clark. He averages 41 yards and has a 59 yarder. Additionally, their kicker is 90/90 on extra points. HE has made 19/20 field goals. His lone miss being one in the 40-50 category. He is 1/1 in 50+, however.

Auburn, on the other hand, has made great use of their special teams this year from the first plays of the year to the the very last. In the first game of the year, Tre Mason took a kickoff to the house in the 2nd quarter of the game. And, we all know how the last play of the regular season went down as Davis put on perhaps the best play in the history of college football.

Along the way, the Auburn Special Teams have been nearly flawless. Cody Parkey is 62/63 of extra points. The lone miss being a partial block. He is 14 for 19 in field goals. 4/4 under 30 yards. 3/4 from 30-40, and 5/6 from 40-50. Sure, he is 1/4 in the 50+ category, but let's not forget that he kicked the SEC Championship record of 52 yards. He has been able to send kick-offs out of the endzone on command.

Stephen Clark has been absolutely incredible punting the ball. In fact, the reason he didn't win the ray Guy award is because they say he "didn't punt enough." But the man averaged 42 yards per with a long of 57. Perhaps the most impressive thing he has done all year is his placement inside the 10 yard line. If he was on the 50 or closer, the other team was fighting out of the endzone, and that's all there was to it.

Now, both of these guys have had tremendous help from their coverage units. Auburn had suffered the last few years with the ups and downs of coverage. This year, however, they have been nearly flawless. One only has to look at the Iron Bowl to see Clark drop two punts inside the 5 yard line. The whole year was like that. Additionally, there were nearly zero big returns.

Auburn's return game has been phenomenal with at least 3 players having returned kicks for TDs this season. Additionally, Quan Bray has been on the verge of busting one for some time. They have scored in all phases of the kicking game.

So, what do I see happening? My whole "game breaker" that I have tried to sell you for Auburn has been that FSU hasn't had to play a whole game. I believe their lack of both experience and preparation on special teams will be amplified. One thing the SEC has that no other conference has is the depth per team to field outstanding special teams. It's not just where young players cut their teeth or older players who aren't starters end up. Everyone on an SEC special teams unit is a premier player. Auburn has really personified this by playing it's starters on specials teams without abandon. While I DO believe that FSU has this amount of talent, they haven't played another team who does. They certainly haven't played a team with playmakers like Grant, Mason, Davis, and Bray. I admit that I don't think Bray will be handling punts in this game. Instead, I expect to see a healthy dose of Davis, who may have punched his ticket to the NFL this year.

The Line
Clark will do what he has done all year. He will pin FSU deep, knocking the punts cold. The biggest thing I see is that Parkey will hit 2 clutch field goals to win OR there will be one special teams TD for Auburn. oen way or the other, Special Teams contributes 6 points.

Auburn 55-FSU 38

Deer Hunting 12/26/13

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In the last few years, I have spent more time in the winter fishing than hunting. Don't misunderstand, I love to eat deer. Most importantly, I love spending time with my dad, uncle, and granddad who all love to hunt and do so nearly everyday of the season. That includes muzzle loader and bow season. Sheesh!

But I have spent a little more time each of the last few years in the woods. Last year I got a nice buck, but I wasn't above taking a doe. In fact, I really wanted to take one for several reasons. The first being, they eat better. The second being, we have a TON of them and it's starting to affect the herd. The size of the deer has gone down dramatically. Everyone wants the big buck, but they have to manage their herd!

I have hunted several times this year already, dating back to opening day. Unfortunately, I missed a shot at a doe that day, which was a first in almost 20 years for me. I took it rather hard, but it was the longest shot I had attempted, the deer was moving, yadda yadda excuses. A few days later, the same deer showed up at the same place and offered me the exact same shot. So I took it. And missed. I shot again. And missed. 3rd times is the charm....negative. No, I didin't throw the Marlin X7 30-06 out the window. I just figured it was because I was shooting left handed. Dad did me a solid and shot it a few times himself, finding out it was 6 inches low at 60 yards! WOW! So, we sighted it in with the Hornady 150 grain SST Superformance rounds. I had two boxes of it in my ammo crate. I hope that lasts me a long time, cause ammo is not

Anyway, I managed to get out on the 26th. It was a good day. The wind was calm and it was rather chilly, but my dad had bought me a new set of coveralls that made it just right. I broke out the GoPro in hopes that I could have some luck. In the past, the deer have smelled the GoPro or something, because I never seem to see anything when I have it.

On  this trip, however, I lucked up. In fact, I hadn't even sat down when movement caught my eye. I looked down the road that I had just walked not more than 1 minute before and there was a doe standing there. Seriously, it was like the deer was stalking me! Well, I put the scope on her, but the sunlight was beaming right into the scope, making a shot impossible. The deer did an about face and walked away.

A few minutes later, I heard something in the brush below me. I looked down to see a bob cat! I couldn't believe it! It was skulking around the shooting house. It walked into the road, sat there and licked itself. I struggled to get the camera on him and about that time he took off up the road. I know the video isn't great. The GoPro has such a wide angle for close shots that it sacrifices depth of field. But, seeing "blob cat", as my uncle calls it, is better than nothing.

So, I got some reading done and around 3:45, two does wandered down the road. The sun was still shining into the scope, but I was able to squeeze all the way to the back of the shooting house, resting the barrel on the window seal, and get the scope on the bigger deer.

Even if I wanted to shoot right handed, I couldn't. The deer was over to the right too much. So, I swapped to my left hand and leaned into the shot.

As you can see, I made a clean shot and dropped her in her tracks.

I texted dad and he headed down to give me a hand since I can't drag her out. He has killed and cleaned so many deer than he had the doe field dressed and in the truck in under 15 minutes of the shot! Talk about fresh!

Anyway, I can now concentrate on getting a buck. I won't say "a big one" because my luck isn't that good. But, one can hope!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Year in Review

Some of you may have read the 2012 Year in Review and the 2013 New Years Resolutions. If not, take a second to catch up.

So, what went on with BFZ this year? Did I meet my Resolutions. Well, of course not. But 2013 was the best year ever.

Let's talk about fishing. The answers are in bold. 
  • Go to the finesse baits earlier. I usually wait too long to throw the finesse baits. I saw the biggest growth in my game in this year in my finesse game. Simply put, I went to it early. I caught fish constantly. I didn't catch any real big fish, but we did win money with my finesse game, such as this Wheeler Tourny
  • Don't loose any rods and reels this year. I lost 2 combos this year, totaling in around $500. Yeah. Well. I think I lost two, yeah. 
  • Be adventurous. Try new spots. I fished several new lakes including Table Rock and Tuscaloosa on my own, learning new spots. Additionally, I fished the lower end of Pickwick a ton and really learned a lot. Check out this post with vid. 
  • Spend more time using my electronics finding the fish. In late 2012, I started doing this REAL well and it paid off. I put a Hummingbird 798 on the Skeeter and used it a ton. It remains to be seen if I can really make use of it. 
  • Learn some new methods. Doesn't have to be a lot of new methods. In 2012, I learned to throw the jig, spoon, and shakey head. This year I want to flip. A lot. I want to learn the drop shot. I didn't have success flipping, but I did have some success  drop shotting. Not enough to really feel food about it. I did throw the jig a good bit and did have success. 
  • Fish with new people. Seriously. Email me. I want to fish with some new folks and learn some new things. Eh. It was really hard to find the time that I hadn't already have planned. 
  • Find a way to Beta test stuff. I don't know what I have to do to convince bait companies to take a chance on me....No takers on that. 
  • Do a MUCH better job managing this blog. People take time to read it. I need to do a better job designing and managing. If you have comments, I would love to hear them! People have emailed me and I have tried to do a better job. We had a ton of views this year, so it's hard to complain. 
  • Weigh in 20+ pounds in a tournament. Sadly, I haven't done this yet. I seem to win on tough days, but I can't compete on good ones. We weighed in 19 and change at the SNUFISH tournament. 
  • Get to fish with my wife and kids more. My oldest and middle are old enough to really start fishing. I need to be less selfish with my time. Whenever she could, Alyse fished with me. And she got really good. Like when she caught some shakey head fish on Wheeler.  The kids are still trying to have  the patients for it, but I did try and catch SOMETHING whenever they were with me
  • Find ways to get the blog out there more. While I blog because I enjoy it, I also enjoy seeing the post count go up. I'd like to get invites to fish with bait companies and pros. Again, I had a ton of hits this year, but  there is a fine line between getting it out there and being a "spammer." Turns out, people don't like spam. So, it's on you guys to help me share! 
  • Find other people like me with blogs and other social media and share! I did decent with this, but sharing isn't something that fishermen do well, as I have found out....
  • Not get skunked ANY this year. Well, yeah....this didn't happen.
  • Get a GoPro and make some webisodes! Did this, and I think  I did well. Check out my YouTube account! 
  • Fish Table Rock this year and do well. Negative. I did fish it, but not well. 
  • Fish more NASA tournaments. I fished enough to make the Classic, where I managed 2nd and big fish. But, it was very up and down. 
  • Fish more Ditto Wildcats. None. Zero

How about Everything Else?
  • Make my garden better this year. It was much better and bigger this year, but I still have a long way to go.
  • I need a rain water collection system for my garden. I learned this year how chlorinated water will KILL your veggies. Didn't do.
  • Start my own seeds instead of buying pre-grown plants. Didn't do. 
  • Build an AR. I did do this and I am now on my second one. Check out the build. Part 1 Part 2
  • Read more books about gardening, self sufficiency, etc. Didn't do. 
  • Take a weekend survival camping trip (or a few!)Didn't do. 
  • Start a EOTWAWKI vehicle build Didn't do. 
  • Find a way to Beta test stuff. Same as above. Maybe if I get more traffic, I can convince companies to let me review their stuff! Didn't do. 
  • Continue to accrue the tools I need. Not just for survival, but for around the house. Which also are good for EOTWAWKI....I  did well in this area. 
  • Start writing post apocalyptic stuff again!I  did well in this area. Check out all of my EOTWAWKI Articles
  • Get my fruit trees to produce better, We did ok, but didn't get to enjoy them because of work/vacation
  • Kill a deer and eat it at the kill site. Just sounds fun! Haven't killed one yet. 
I have plenty of other Resolutions not associated with this blog which supersede the rest:
  • Loose 20 pounds...or convert to muscle. I did this, but injury caused me to put it back on. 
  • Make studying the Bible a priority instead of "what to do when I am bored. Started out real well, and we still read it nightly to the kids, but I have a long way to go. 
  • spend more time with the kids developing their skills. My dad played football and baseball with me almost daily. As a result, I was a fantastic athlete, despite being vertically challenged. I still struggle with this, but we are getting better. 
  • Spend more time working on our house and landscaping. I did a much better job this last year and it really showed. Turns out, it's pretty fun! I did real well this year. 
  • Start playing bass guitar again. Didn't do. 
  • Get my kids more involved with the outdoors. Did better, but a long way from where I want to be. 
  • Be the person I should be in front of everyone. I do a good job around acquaintances but a terrible job around my close friends. Eh...I don't know. I don't think I did. 
  • Make more friends, especially at Church. Did ok,
  • Watch less TV. Well, off and on. We can't miss watching football. 
  • Save more money this year. Last year we actually paid down debts and didn't add any new debts. This year I want to actually save some! Yeah right. 

2013 was a ton of fun. Gavin was old enough that we could go places. We took a fantastic vacation to Florida with our friends.  I managed to destroy my right shoulder which I just had surgery upon. That sucked, but I should be a much better softball player. Alyse and I played well over 50 softball games and played flag football together, which was a ton of fun. We were able to send Aubree to a lot of softball camps and it has really shown. She is getting good. She played well in soccer, but it was a trying season. She was really the only player to score a goal all season. It was hard on me to coach. 

We bought a new-to-us boat, which we have really enjoyed. It's nice having something that doesn't give you problems. Speaking of, we were able to replace the old Lumina with a new-ish Acura for Alyse.  Now I get to drive the Lumina every day. Yay! 

The blog has done very well on account of the versatility I have added, largely in thanks to you readers. 

We did a ton of things as a family and we made a lot of friends this year. I think that is what I am the most thankful for. 

The National Championship Preview: FSU Defense VS Auburn Offense

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Make sure to read my prognostication on The Auburn Defense vs FSU Offense! 
Check out my predictions on Special Teams!
Read all of my Auburn Realist Articles! 

I think everyone in the country is eyeing this particular match up as the most important one on the field. In particular, the Auburn offensive line vs the FSU front seven. ESPN and the spinning heads have all said the same thing about the FSU defense. They are built like an SEC team. Yet, there is that critical word "like." That's because they aren't an SEC team and they aren't SEC level. Now, the talent is SEC caliber, I don't think it takes a genius to see that Fisher has recruited extremely well. Overall, the defense leads the nation in points against. I understand that it's hard to argue against those stats. But, I take a look at the majority of the teams played and they are all bottom 3rd of FBS teams, with the exception of Miami, Clemson, and Duke. Yet, all of those teams have one thing in common, they are ACC teams. ACC teams score. A lot. And usually through the air. But, again, the defense dominated each of those contests with the exception of one game. And in that game, they played a very good running team in Boston College, whom put up 34 points, which is the most points put on them all season.

A closer look at this game shows that Andre Williams, perhaps the closest thing FSU faced like Tre Mason, ran for 150 yards with a 5.3 yard average. It's worth noting that his long run was 30 yards and he didn't score. Yet, what it did do was allow Rettig to take advantage of play-action and throw for 4 TDs.  It's worth noting that he did also throw two INTs, one of which went for 6. All the same, it's hard to ignore the fact that BC was the best rushing team that FSU faced. And that offense found success on the ground and then through the air behind a marginal, at best, quarter back who, aside from this game, had thrown just 13 TDs and 5 picks. Ironically, the numbers for Marshall are almost identical with his identical to Rettig 144 QBR , slightly less than Rettig 1600 yards, 12 TDs and 5 INTs. Yet, Marshall has another dimension that Rettig does not, the ability to run. And Marshall has done that to the tune of 1,000 yards and 11 TDs.

So, it's an adequate situation to compare to, except that Auburn is a better team in all phases of the game at this point. While we pointed out that Rettig has slightly better numbers than Marshall, it's worth noting that Marshall has NOT thrown picks down the stretch. He throws when he has to and he has been absolutely LETHAL when he does throw.

Going back to the talking heads, a lot has been made of the fact that Auburn runs a lot. Because they run so much, the notion that they CAN'T throw has become accepted. And yet, in clutch games down the stretch, starting with Georgia and ending with Missouri, he was the following:

  • Against Georgia: 15/26 for 229 yards and 1 TD, 8.8 yards per completion
  • Against Bama: 11/16 for 99 yards and 2 TDs, 6.1 yards per completion
  • Against Missouri: 9/11 for 132 yards and 1 TD, 12 yards per completion
Now, even going back to games against ranked opponents:
  • Against TAMU: 11/23 for 236 and 2 TDs, 10.3 yards per completion
  • Against Ole Miss: 11/17 for 93 yards, no TDs, 5.5 yards per completion
  • Against LSU: 17/33 for 224 yards, no TDS and 2 INTs, 6.8 yards per completion
In summary, he has 6 TDs and 2 INTs against ranked opponents. Now, I am not one for making excuses for Marshall, but if you take the monsoon game at LSU where he was playing his first ranked opponent, away from home, and from behind the whole game, you have 6 TDs and No INTs against ranked opponents. That's solid numbers no matter how you slice it. That doesn't take into consideration his ability to score on the ground, which he used to take over games with Tre Mason down the stretch. 

So, where am I going with this? I think Mason will get his, and so does everyone else. Florida State will almost undoubtedly find themselves in a situation where they must throw to win. They will find success, as we stated, but it won't be a TD every series and there will be turnovers. Additionally, they will be playing against a clock because the Auburn offense will churn up both yards and time on the ground. The FSU defense will find themselves sticking extra men in the box to stop the run, forcing their secondary to either give up a lot of underneath passes or play close coverage at the line of scrimmage. Both of these can and will be an advantage to Auburn. 

If the secondary, which is a good group of players, has to play back in order to see the run game develop, they will give up the underneath routes to a group of Auburn receivers who can make players miss in the open field, Louis in particular. #5 is extremely good after the catch and better at the short game than down the field, where he has dropped several balls. 

On the flip side, if the secondary plays close coverage up on the line of scrimmage, they will have their backs turned to the run game as it develops. That would make Marshall absolutely lethal to escape the pocket. It also gives Auburn some additional ability to get Grant in the screen game or hit Mason out of the backfield or give him lots of looks with the delay-draw.  

Additionally, if the corners have to play man-on, it forces a serious match-up problem with Uzomah, if he is healthy. Either FSU has to cover him with a safety, going man-on all the receivers, which benefits Coates tremendously. Or they have to bring in an extra secondary player to go Dime or Nickle, both help the Auburn ground game or finally. Lastly, cover Uzomah with a line backer. Any and all of these help Auburn, though the real question is, will FSU force Auburn to throw the ball. I think they have to, to the point of blatantly leaving receivers uncovered. 

So, again, the sentiment is: Can Marshall throw to beat an elite team? I think they can and for 1 very large reason. Marshall, week to week, has grown from a liability player to a tremendous threat. Earlier in the year, you cringed when he threw the ball. In many ways, I wanted to see him tuck it and run instead of making tight throws. As the year went on, specifically after the bye week, that sentiment all but disappeared. Running the ball is almost infinitely safer than throwing it. Malzahn is a very smart coach and he knows this. If the run is there, even if it's 3 yards here, 5 yards there, it's a game winning formula. Let's keep in mind, Auburn has had some explosive plays from Grant, but Mason and his 1600 yards have not come in 60 yard chunks. He has picked them up in methodical 5 yard spurts followed by 1st down running gashes of 10-15 yards. 

My prediction is simple: FSU will go overboard to stop the run, placing their secondary to play man-on. Mason will score 2 TDs and run for 150 yards on 25-30 carries. Grant gets in the mix for one long play, though the buck sweep will be a play FSU will be looking for. He will get a critical first down running the ball and also do some damage catching the ball from the backfield/short slot. 

With the month long break, Marshall will have become even better at reading the defense and executing his offense. Specifically, knowing what to throw in specific coverage (which we mentioned above). Marshall won't have to throw 30 times to do it, but he will put up his first big 300 yard game with 3 TDs in the air and 2 TDs on the ground. He get's 1 TD on a short pass to Louis, 1 to Coates on play action, and 1 to Grant on a screen. The big question is, will he hold on to the ball? The guy has lost a ton of handles on the ball. Can they get it fixed? I think he gives one away, but it won't matter. It will just tick him off.

While everyone cares about the stats, the real matchup is the Auburn offensive line vs FSU defensive line. Though they are built "like" and SEC line, they aren't nearly as deep. They will have to play the whole game against an Auburn offensive line who features a future NFL center in Dismukes and possible first rounder in Greg Robinson. Dismukes is a hard nosed mean player. They have not seen anyone who wants to pound other people like he does. All of Auburn's opponents have said the same thing about this line, they are as talented as anyone, but they are in better shape than any team out there. They are playing a defense that hasn't had to play a full game. FSU will get tired and will have let down plays that will ultimately turn the game in 4th quarter. By then, Auburn will be picking and choosing how to score.

Auburn scores 7 TDs on offense

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fishing Report for Tuscaloosa Lake 12/21/13

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Well, I am pleased to report that the surgery on my shoulder went well. Turns out, there was a lot more wrong with it than originally thought. I had a torn labrum and rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I had it fixed 12/3. And...I was itching to get back out on the water.

As many of you know, my wife's family is from Tuscaloosa. While it's sometimes painful to put up with all the Rohl Tahdism that goes on in Tuscaloosa, I do love her family. And I also enjoy catching spots. Additionally, I have Alyse's uncle Tony, whom you have read about in some of my other posts such as the Eagle's Wings Tournament of 2012 and  Eagle's Wings Tournament 2011. The man is one of the best on the lake and I love learning from him. Luckily, I was able to go out with him for a few hours Friday the 20th. The wind was howling and the fishing was tough. He was able to show me some techniques and spots that I could come back and fish the next morning, however.

Most notably was the techniques that I never would have employed, such as fishing the very bottom of creek channels in excess of 20 feet deep, with a shakey head. He told me that he would fish the whole day with nothing more than that. If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me! So, that was the only rod I had on my deck. I was using the Owner shakey head backed with a PowerTeam Lure's 5" Sick Stick in Watermellan Red Flake. It's been my go-to shakey head bait. I also washed them in PowerTeam's Hog Tonic.The Sick Stick is one of the most versatile baits you can find and I love how it's a little different than the other stick baits on the market. Even on tough days, you can and will get bites. When the bite is light, like Tony said it would be, I opt for the Hog Tonic to ensure they hold on to the bait just a little longer.

Saturday morning, I hit the water by 9. It was dreary and very very windy. Turns out, there isn't a spot on that lake where you can get out of the wind. I am not a very good finnese fisherman, so it was extra hard for me to fish. But, I did the best I could and the pattern seemed to hold up.

I fished two different spots back and forth all day. Each would yeild a few fish every time I fished it. In most cases, I could get back to back fish before the bites became scarce. The hardest part for me is casting and waiting the 20 seconds or so for the shakey head to make it down to 20 feet. After that, I would hop it back to the boat a few inches at a time. In both of these two spots, there were either rocks, brush, or both scattered along the bottom. When I found those, I would let the bait loiter for as long as I could, shaking it occasionally. That seemed to draw the bites. But the bites were still very light and the wind made it hard to feel anything.

Add on to that my recently operated on right shoulder, which was killing me by the end of the first hour and you have the makings of a tough day. But, if I could make the casts and get the bait where it needed to be, I got bites. Hooking up with the fish was something else entirely and I missed a lot of bites. There were only 2 hours that the fish actually were biting, but I managed to catch a good many of them including a small limit of around 6 pounds. That's a far cry from what I was hoping for, but I still caught fish on a lake I barely know.

One of the reasons I really like  this lake is it's tendency to force me to be a better fisherman, in particular, to improve on things I lack. We talked about many of those in my New Year's Resolutions. This lake makes you target suspending fish, fish hugging the bottom in 20++ feet of water, and finesse fishing. Perhaps the hardest thing for me was finding off shore structure and probing it. But, I managed to have some success, so  that's what matters. Along the way, I reinforced perhaps the biggest lesson I learned all year. Never give up on a bite after a miss on a shakey head. I can't tell you how many times this year I missed a fish, jerked the lure 10 feet away, let it settle, then bagged the fish anyway. Check out this vid from August where I did the same thing. It's the first fish on the vid.
Best5Zach Fishes Wheeler

Well, the shoulder is still sore, but the day was fun and I learned a ton from the lake expert.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Secret to Success: Who Can't Auburn Do Without in 2014

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It's that time of year. Regardless of if their team was 3-9 or in the National Championship, the top eligible players in the country are all evaluating whether or not they will declare for the NFL draft. Naturally, most of the attention is being played to the skill positions around college football, notably, players like Teddy Bridgewater.

Auburn is no exception to this and a team that was 3-9 and winless in the SEC last year find itself at the pinnacle of college football. When you are at the pinnacle, it's easy to be seen and a lot of players are giving a lot of consideration to where they will be in the next year. The old saying "strike while the iron is hot" certainly applies. There is plenty of talent on this team, 4 and 5 stars galore. But, players have had the opportunity to showcase their skills on the biggest stage and will likely never be able to duplicate such an amazing run. While seniors will be gone regardless, few of them are either starters or cornerstones of the program. However, there are several juniors that are openly considering jumping into the professional world.

You can't be mad at any of them for wanting to leave potentially mediocre careers in an office for the glory (and money) of the NFL. All you can hope for is that they have considered all the options and weighed them carefully.

Auburn has 2 potential juniors that are carefully weighing the odds in Reese Dismukes and Tre Mason. Both are fantastic players with their own stories that you can go read up on. Obviously, Tre gets a lot of the much deserved hype and rightfully so. He has become my favorite player in Auburn history with his blend of skills and work ethic. He has been the face of this team. Yet, he isn't the player that I feel MUST come back for Auburn to find success in 2014.

I know it's hard to believe that I would say that a Heisman finalist and holder of many records at Auburn isn't the key to success next year. Don't get me wrong, I want him back in a bad way and I think he wants to come back, too. Though he is a Finalist, finishing last in a vote isn't his style. Additionally, Mason is not high on anyone's draft board. Many say he is the 10th best back in the draft, making him a late round pick. As a matter of fact, word is that he is having success because of the system, a mediocre back in a terrific offense. Those aren't kind words to read when considering your draft status. At the same time, no one knows what another year may bring. As we have seen with guys like Marcus Lattimore, the worst thing to happen is a serious injury, which is always one hit away. But, the man thrives through adversity and continues to surprise everyone. I would certainly give him a shot if I were a GM of an NFL team. He fits well in a Bronco's or even a Chargers type offense.

But as much as I love watching Tre and I believe in him, Auburn can and will win without him. Auburn became Running Back U long before he was at Auburn and it will continue to live up to its name. Artis-Payne and Corey Grant will be back next year. Malzahn continues to bring in top level talent and Auburn has two high school running backs on board that could be heir apparent after CAP and Grant.

So, that leaves only center Reese Dismukes.  Dismukes came out of Spanish Fort as an SEC ready center. He was the #1 rated center and #79 overall in the class of 2011. He entered spring practice and immediately solidified the starting role vacated by long time starter Ryan Pugh. He had his growing pains on and off the field in the next two years but has absolutely dominated the game in 2013. Like Mason, he isn't high on anyone's draft card, coming in as the #5 center and projected as a late rounder as well.

So, why must be return for Auburn to find success? Well, for starters, he makes all of the line adjustment calls at the line of scrimmage. He has been doing it for a long time and has done a fairly good job. This is something that only gets better with time and one can expect him to continue to grow in this area and develop into a prototypical play caller as needed in the NFL. While he has been doing it for 3 years, there hasn't been much time for his backup Tunde Faryike to  grow.

Speaking of, all a layman needs to do is to watch the two games that Dismukes sat out in 2012 to see the other reasons that he is needed. Tunde Faryike did not play well in the Clemson game down the stretch. After establishing a first half lead, the offense melted and could not produce points. More importantly, the line could not make hay. Additionally, Faryike gave Ole Miss the game with a snap returned for a TD. While things DO happen, this problem manifested itself yet again in the 2013 A-Day game which lead to a Justin Garrett scoop and score.

While the Auburn offensive line has dominated everyone as a team, the unquestioned leader is Dismukes. His take-no-prisoners attitude is very apparent if you watch him punish players. That was his MO in high school. He had a mean streak. While youth kept him from being able to put it on display in his first two years, his comfort with the system and the teams improvement around him have allowed him to become the monster that everyone thought he could become.

While the NFL is a QB driven league, it's easy to forget that everything starts up front. More importantly, everything starts with the center, whether it's making presnap calls to the snap itself. Auburn has a stable of running backs behind Mason. Are they as good as Mason? Probably not. But Malzahn has shown that he can make 2 lesser backs more potent than 1 super back. Replacing a 3 year starter that already has NFL potential, experience, and a punisher attitude, cannot be replaced as easily if at all. That goes double when the backup is a known quantity as a liability. Auburn is trying to remedy that by bringing in JuCo star Dampeer may help shore up the position, but as a Junior, he cannot be expected to fill the shoes of a guy who was recruited and trained in the system as an early enrolled freshman.

Mark my words, though Auburn would be fine without either of these great players, Dismukes is the only one that I can say that a loss at some point is inevitable. When you play the Alabama's and LSU's of the world, you are only as good as your line, specifically your center. The big question is, will Dismukes benefit from coming back? I believe that he could move up the draft boards with another year. Anything can happen if you decide to stay an extra year. In this case, I think both sides will benefit from him staying, but Auburn most of all.

The National Championship Preview: FSU Offense vs Auburn Defense

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Here are the predictions for the Special Teams
Here are the predictions for FSU Defense vs Auburn Offense

I figured I would get the word out on what I predict for the National Championship. Otherwise, it might go down like the Iron Bowl did. Between my birthday, fishing tournaments, and Thanksgiving, I ran out of time and didn't make a prediction. That's ok. I would have screwed it all up anyway, though I at least would have gotten the winner right.

Let's get going, show we. Let's discuss the teams, overall, and then move to FSU offense vs Auburn defense.

I have to say, the first place to start is with FSU. I think we are all impressed with Famous Jameis. I didn't quite buy him for Heisman, but that's ok. We will settle that in the follow up to my  first post: Best5Zach's Bones to Pick with 2013 College Football Awards.

To me, Florida State falls in the same boat as Ohio State. Who did they play? Look. I know everyone will point to the fact that they are indeed undefeated and didn't play a close game all year. I don't care about any of that. The fact is, the ACC is terrible. TERRIBLE. There are only two games on the schedule that I can give any credence to. The first is obvious the win at Clemson. Yes. They drilled Clemson. But, Clemson this year is the same Clemson we saw last year. And the year before. Not only will they loose one of their only big games, they will lay an absolute egg once a year. And it was against FSU. Again, I understand that they beat them 51-14 in Clemson. But, if I had 6 straight weeks of cupcakes before my first REAL game, I bet I could game plan a win too. I mean, look at their schedule for the first 6 weeks:

  • Pittsburgh(6-6)
  • Off
  • Nevada(4-8)
  • Bethune-Cookman(10-3) 
  • Boston College(7-5)
  • Maryland(7-5)
But. Ok. So they win big in "Death Valley". What about the other game I alluded to? Florida. Yes. I understand that Florida was the punching bag for the SEC (and everyone else, it seems). Yet, Florida still has a good defense which held them to their season low of 37 a stretch where they had scored 59, 59, and 80 points in respective weeks. I think it's worth pointing out that Jameis Winston and his starters were NOT out of the game after the first half, as everyone seems to think they had done for every single game. Yeah yeah. "ONLY 37 points" isn't a great line and I know that. But it does show that their production was cut in half simply playing an SEC-Caliber defense. And that Florida team has NO offense. None. 

I understand that it's hard to pick apart a team that doesn't seem to have any weakness. They are 1st in the nation for points against and 2nd in points for. That's tough. Double tough. But, again, statistics are as Mark Twain said: "There are lies. Damn lies. And statistics." To me, you can't know a single thing about a team until they have been through adversity. I said that same thing in my Stone Cold Pick of the Week of the YEAR in taking Michigan State over Ohio State. You don't know how to win until you lose. And you can't fight against adversity and come from behind if you've never been knocked on your rump. The only exception to this is, if this FSU team is the best the world has ever seen, and I don't think they are. 

FSU, behind Winston, has an extremely potent passing attack. The Heisman winner has 38 TDs and 3820 yards. That's incredible. He does have 10 picks, but I don't put much stock in that considering the pure volume of passes his has thrown. If had thrown multiple picks against Florida, I might say there was some leverage there that he struggles against good defense, but he only threw a single pick. 

Their running game is entirely complimentary though it may appear balanced on the surface. They have a back-by-committee system where they have 4 different players with over 70 carries and 400 combined carries for around 2500 yards. The TD total for the 4 is almost equal to the passing TD total that Winston has, making it appear that they might be balanced. Yet, it's worth noticing that many of these TDs spring from very long runs against inferior opponents. Just take a look at their lead rusher, Freeman. Of his 13 TD runs, 4 came from runs over 30 yards. Many of the rest came in times killing drives to put the game away. 

All I can say about this is, the Great Bear Bryant said: "There are three things that can happen when you throw the ball and 2 of them are bad." 

Since this is THE GAME, we will dedicate a post per phase of the game. 

Auburn's Defense vs FSU Offense
We all know Auburn gives up a ton of yards. To an extent, they give up a ton of points too. They give up 24 points per game and haven't shut out anyone. Not Western Carolina. Not even Florida Atlantic. They only kept two teams out of the endzone all year, Arkansas State and Western Carolina. Is that a concern? How could it not be. There doesn't even seem to be a rhyme or reason to it. Is it first half or second? Is it running or passing? It seems to be something different every week, whether it's a 4th quarter meltdown or a hemorrhage against the pass. Additionally, turnovers haven't been as plentiful as the year started out to look.

There is only one certainty in defense: when the game is on the line, the defense absolutely shuts a team down. Now, it may be a game winning drive or even a game winning play (as per UGA) that they stuff, but they manage to do it. It's the darnedest thing, really. Can't stop Manziel all game, yet you get two sacks in the last 2 minutes? Alabama's offense was clicking every single play in the second half but the defense manages to stop a 4th and 1? 

In my untrained eye, it seems that the defense has not played equally on all 3 levels. Different games have shown completely different gameplay for the 3 levels of defense that I can't explain. Did we think that James Franklin was going to throw for a lot of yards? Sure. But, receivers inexplicably found themselves wide open. Early in the year, it was reversed. The secondary played well while there was zero pass rush. LB play has been spotty at best, but they have played as well as expected when it mattered and atrocious at other times. I attribute a lot of this to the general youth of the program and the week in/week out preparation against good and versatile offenses in the SEC. 

FSU hasn't seen a defensive front like they will see against Auburn. While the stats aren't overwhelming in terms of sacks, hurries, and knockdowns, it was obvious down the stretch that offenses were scheming against the D-line by getting the ball out of the hands of the QB quickly, especially early in the game. The dink and dump passing game has been a huge area of concern early in games. Washington State was destroying the defense in the opener with the short pass game. Yet, for all the yards given up, the tactic didn't win any games because teams got down in score and had to open things up to come back, spelling their doom. Only Georgia's decision to throw short to Gurley or slants and skinny seams to slot receivers almost won the day in Jordan-Hare. I give Mike Bobo a ton of credit for his halftime adjustments in that game. Ultimately, they were down too much to kill the game. Also, the immaculate deflection didn't hurt. 

Where am I going with that? FSU will find success. I have no doubt that they will score points. However, they will not be able to stop the Auburn offense and will find themselves rapidly running less and less and throwing vertically more and more. Benjamin will come down with a lot of these balls. The difference is, for every 3rd and long that may for for a big completion, one won't and the ball will get handed back to the Auburn offense. If you sprinkle in a turnover or two, this game could swing way out to Auburn's favor. I still believe that Auburn's defense will give up points in every single quarter. The difference will be in the 4th quarter when Winston is running for his life and tossing bullets down field. All it will take is 2 or 3 of these to be errant and the game will be over. 

Do I see Auburn's defensive line dominating the game? No. Winston can run well and that does present a major problem. Auburn played 2 terrific dual threat QBs this year. Franking hurt Auburn with his running at times, but never broke the game open. Yet, he didn't take any huge sacks that truly hurt him. Manziel, on the other hand, took huge losses at times that ultimately spelled doom for TAMU. The question Winston will have to answer is, can he settle for sustaining drives and not breaking the game open? Will he know when to get down? Or will he try to live up to his billing and force his run game? I think he will find the endzone with his feet, but I do not see a Vince Young moment. I do see sacks, however. 

The LB play will be the biggest concern. Will they stay at home? If Winston can step up in the pocket and run, Auburn will lose this game. They do a credible job to sealing the outside well as it is. If the LBs get out of position as they have in the past against Murray, Auburn is in trouble. Additionally, if they cannot make tackles at the point of attack,  as they have shown many times this year, FSU's run game could run amuck. If McKinzy, in particular, can use this month to really understand the scheme of the passing game, Auburn will be fine.  

Another big concern will be the overall fitness of the two teams. Russell has proven to know exactly how to get kids in shape and keep them healthy. All you have to do is point to the relative lack of injuries experienced by this team. While I am certainly talking about keeping these kids in peak condition over the holidays, I also point out that FSU's starters haven't played a whole game yet. There is simply no shape like game shape. And how can this team, who admittedly hasn't played starters past the half but a handful of times, know about game shape and gutting it out in the 4th? To me, this is perhaps the biggest mismatch of the day and it isn't just FSU offense vs Auburn's defense. While I disagreed completely with playing Tre Mason into the last drive of the game in the SEC championship, he has proven that he can and will HAPPILY take 40++ carries. While I think Auburn wins this game is it sits, its hard to imagine that FSU could ever put the game away against Dismukes and Co with a backfield that can and will run all game long. 

Ok. So we aren't talking about the offense, right? How does this translate to defense? Well, Auburn's D-line has shined in the 4th quarter. Why? Because they are extremely deep and talented. FSU's offensive line will have to do something it hasn't done all a whole game. On the flip side of the line, Auburn will be doing exactly what it has done all year and proven to be quite good at: subbing regularly and coming on super strong in the 4th. 

Going back to what we were saying early about getting the ball out of Winston's hands early. The question will be, will they do it early and will they stick to it if they get down? My hunch tells me they will start out dink and dunking early. But when the Auburn offense scores on every drive, the throws will get longer and the desperation will get higher. 3 down turns to 10. Then 17. Then it rolls and rolls just like Missouri saw. Even worse will be if FSU comes out slinging early and gets shut down a few times in the first half. 

The line? After allowing 14 points per quarter for the first 2 quarters and 10 in the 3rd, Auburn shuts out FSU in the 4th to hold them to 38. In particular, the throws get deeper down the field and Winston has to sit in the pocket more. The fresh Auburn D-line takes over and makes FSU pay. 

FSU 38 Points. Auburn has 5 sacks and 1 turnover plus 2 turnovers on downs 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Best5Zach's Bones to Pick with 2013 College Football Awards Part 1

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Yeah, yeah. I am an Auburn Homer. I get it. I do try to be subjective whenever I can, though. Every once in awhile I see an argument that I feel like I can contribute to without people simply brushing it off as more Auburn Propaganda. I realize that there is still one big award left to go, but I think we all know who it's going to. In the meantime, I want to discuss some of the awards that were give out last night. Here is Part 1.

So, there were 3 finalist: Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, and Brandin Cooks. Cooks, from Oregon State, took home the award. It was an interesting choice, in my opinion. Oregon State went 6-6 in spite of being highly ranked in the preseason. They lost their opener to East Washington, won 6 straight, and lost their last 5. Their best win game against Cal. Cooks had  120 receptions, 1670 yards, and 15 TDs. By comparison to the other two finalist, that's 50 more receptions, 200 yards, and 4 more TDs than the nearest finalist. So, what's my problem with this award? Cooks plays in a conference where defense is an afterthought. Additionally, he plays on a team that is the worst rushing team in college football. They have 7 different receivers with 20 or more catches.

On the other hand, Watkins and Evans both routinely draw double coverage from much better competition and are on much more balanced teams. Both players are surrounded with other playmakers. To me, this is where Evans really stands out. Evans plays in the toughest division of the toughest conference in college football. He drew double and even triple coverage from the premier defenses in the league and was virtually unstoppable. Take a look at his 2 games against Auburn and Alabama. Against Bama he has 7 receptions for 279 yards and a TD. Against Auburn he had 11 receptions for 287 and 4 TDs. In the Aggies biggest games of the season, he dominated. He did nearly as much damage as Cook with 50 less catches. That's amazing, when you think about it.

In conclusion, Evans did as much damage against exponentially better opponents with more coverage and less targets. You can't double and triple 5 wide sets like Cook had at Oregon State. Between the 3, which receiver would get his catches even if you knew it was coming? Only Evans would succeed against double and triple coverage on 3rd-and-long with the game on the line.

Doak Walker
Here is all I am going to say: Tre Mason was not a finalist. Wut. This alone makes me say that the 2013 Awards were a farce. The list of backs that were finalist are all fantastic. Mason's stats: 283 carries for 1621 yards. a 5.7 average and 22 TDs. Those were against the PREMIER rushing defenses in ALL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL. How does it stack up to the finalist? Carey had 1716 yards for a 5.3 average and 17 TDs. Sankey has 1775 for a 5.8 average and 18 TDs. Those are two Pac-12 backs, mind you. Williams had 2102 yards for a 6.4 average and 17 TDs.

Right away, I rule out Carey and Sankey. Why? Because they both had almost identical yards and averages but far less TDs....despite playing completely inferior defenses. The only quality performance I can give is to Carey against Oregon, which far...his best performance.

Williams has far better average and a ton more yards. He did play better defenses in Florida State and Clemson. The results? O TDs. ZERO. None. Nadda.  In fact, in BCs four losses, he had ZERO TDs.

In comparison, Mason absolutely SHINED against the best competition on the biggest stages. Let's take a look at Mason in the Tiger's games against ranked opponents.

  • In the loss to #6 LSU, he has 132 yards and 2 TDs.
  • In a win against #24 Ole Miss, 77 yards and a TD (lowest output of season)
  • In a win against #5 TAMU, 178 yards and 4 TDs
  • In a win against #7 Georgia, 115 yards and a TD
  • In a win against #1 Alabama, 164 yards and a TD
  • In a win against #5 Missouri, 304 yards and 4 TDs. (all records)
Why are we debating this? Any fan of college football should be absolutely APPALLED at this joke of oversight. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Best5Zach's AR-15 Budget Build Part 2

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If you haven't read it, check out Part 1 of the AR-15 Budget Build.

Just a short recap, here is a list of things we purchased to get us this far:

  • Anderson MFG stripped lower-$55
  • Palmetto State Classic lower build kit with bolt and carrier group and charge handle-$236.99 shipped
  • Kobalt roll punch set-$25

Now, I admit that I took the easy way out when it came to assembling the rest of my gun. You can spend as much money as you would like on building an AR-15. But, I wanted something that I could shoot with accuracy and consistency and not spend a lot of money on. But, I wanted something that was superior than what you would find in your gun shop for $700-800 dollars.

All of my friends had told me that Palmetto State does some awesome Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. So, I kept my eyes open. Sure enough, they listed a killer deal on one of their barreled upper assemblies. Of course that meant that I wouldn't have to assemble it myself. Anyways, they listed the PTAC 16" M4 upper for $189.99. Again, I knew that this was their entry level assembled upper. But, it's still a pretty good one. It features:

  • Barrel Length 16" 
  • 5.56 Nato Chamber
  • 1 in 7" twist 
  • M4 Profile Barrel 
  • .750" Gas Block Diameter 
  • M4 Feedramps 

Again, it isn't the best, but it is comparable or even better than most of the units on the entry level guns you would purchase in the gun shop. I've learned enough over the years to know that I need to practice on cheap stuff before spending lots of money. So, this seemed to be the best way to learn with low risk while producing a useful firearm. Additionally, this is a shooters gun. I don't have to have to worry about taking this gun out and dragging it thought the mud, so to speak. My initial thoughts on the upper? It isn't the most visually appealing piece. Again, you can buy all kinds of cool looking flash hiders. It didn't come with a rail system, though for the price, you can't really argue. It's just something else to buy, so keep that in mind when considering some of the options. The barrel isn't chrome lined, but I don't plan on shooting that often. The front site is a fairly cheap piece, but it does it's job.  

So, the gun showed up a few days later. Since it's an assembly, I simply snapped in the take down pins and...there we go. Finished. Now, it didn't have a rear site, so I added a Knight's Armament flip up rear peep site. 
Here is a picture of the whole gun. I apologize that it isn't the best...but it will do. 
So, here is the total break down on cost:

  • Anderson MFG stripped lower-$55
  • Palmetto State Classic lower build kit with bolt and carrier group and charge handle-$236.99 shipped
  • Kobalt roll punch set-$25
  • Palmetto State PTAC 16" M4 upper-$204.99 shipped
  • Knight's Armament rear site-$125

Total Cash Outlay: $673.98

Monday, December 2, 2013

The SEC Championship Game Preview

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Did I just type that "SEC Game Preview". No. Seriously.

Are we really playing in Atlanta? And Mizzou you say?

What we the odds? I understand that the odds in Vegas for Auburn reaching Atlanta in the preaseason were 75:1. Well. Someone is getting paid for taking those odds.

No. I didn't do a Bammer Preview. I did the review, however. Check it out. Lots of vids and pics! I had a blast. I hope you did too.

So, what did we learn? Auburn can run it on anyone, first off. This coaching staff and team will make you pay for the tiniest mistakes. Don't knock a ball down? Touchdown. Don't cover a kick? Touchdown. Get sucked into a QB read option perimeter run....Marshall dumps it to Coates. Touchdown.

It's true. While everyone had penciled in a 6-6 or 7-5 season, I OPTIMISTICALLY thought it was an 8-4 with a decent bowl game season. After the State game, I at least maintained that we would an 4 loss season entertaining, which was saying a lot more  than 2011 and certainly 2012.

I give credit to my wife and vest friend Kevin who saw victory in a loss to LSU. Sure, I thought it was impressive, by last years standards, that they put up 21 points after falling behind so bad. But, I didn't give them enough credit.

A few weeks later against TAMU, I was convinced. Don't believe me? Read my Second Half of the Season Predictions.

People laughed. People facepalmed themselves after reading my tweets and status updates. Beat UGA? Beat Bama? You are one delusional fan, they said.

Along the way, my wife and I have had the absolute time of our lives....along with the entire Tiger the last few home games. And I thought our adventure at the UGA game couldn't get better.

But, I admit. I didn't have faith as I should and I scheduled surgery this week which will keep me from going to Atlanta. And it hurts. A lot.

Let's talk about this game. The SEC east's been a wreck most of the season. That isn't to say the teams aren't good. They just haven't been good all the time. Or a majority of the time. I believe a healthy UGA can beat anyone in the country. But they haven't been healthy, or at least the critical players. Tennessee? Joke. Florida? A bigger joke than Tennessee. South Carolina...for the 3rd year straight...has beaten everyone but the team that matters. I think you see where this is going. Along the way, Mizzou has done well.

I want you to think about what I am about to say: You are STILL picturing Nick Marshall as a run only, throw in desperation player. It's ok. So does the rest of the nation. But it isn't September. He throws when he has to. He makes you pay when he must. The thing is, he doesn't have to. Everyone in the Nation played the fool this week when they said that the nation's best rushing attack could not run on Alabama and Marshall couldn't throw it to beat them. And what happened? Well, laughingly, BOTH.

While the kickoff will get all the love, the fact remains that Bama was dominated like they haven't been in a decade. Does the score show it? No. Because they are an elite team. But, they had not 1...but 2 100 yard rushers. For a WHOPPING...wait for it...296 rushing yards. They averaged almost 6 yards per carry, folks. And yet, Marshall was 11/16 for 97 yards and 2 TDs. Look. You don't need 200+ yards in the air to say you were successful throwing the ball. Watch the Uzomah TD. Watch the Coates TD. They were...and for opposite good a TD throw and catch as you will see. One was pinpoint accuracy after getting the matchup you wanted. The other was absolutely brutal execution and...perhaps....a little improvisation. Don't let them fool you. Marshall was going to run it all the way until the corner sucked up. He flipped it out and it became the 2nd most important offensive play of the day. Let's not forget, Auburn was looking lost until that moment.

There has been a lot of talk about Mizzous front 4 and the overall athleticism on defense. They fly around to the ball. I don't disagree that Sam is a fine defensive lineman. What I hear is, they don't match up well physically, anywhere on the defensive side of the ball and rely on speed and athleticism to counter. There is one problem with that: Auburn runs away from Sam, right up the middle. It doesn't matter how fast your guys are when Mason is through the line before anyone can make a move. Sure, they might keep him from breaking off 20+ yarders, but that hasn't been his MO anyway. Auburn will average 6.5 yards per carry behind Mason. Mason will explode into the Heisman picture for 3 TDs and 150 yards.

Marshall will continue to do what needs to be done. He will keep the ends honest and pull it. He won't go over 100 yards, but he will pick up 1st downs and score twice. Additionally, he will find wide open receivers as he did against Bama for another 2 TD day. Uzomah gets another TD. The other won't go to Coates, who will become the priority for Mizzou. Instead, I see Gus running a wheel route to Louis from the slot. He has the speed and it will only take once. If this play is in the redzone, expect Uzomah instead. Marshall goes 10 for 15 for 120 yards and 2 TDs. That will have him eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. Hard to believe.

This is where the game gets interesting. Make no mistake, Alabama had a yardage pileup field day. If you looked at just the Bama stats, you would swear they decimated Auburn. Yeldon runs for 150+, McCarron throws for 277 and 3 TDs, no picks. Overall, Bama rushed for over 200 yards, averaging 6.2 yards a carry. In the same way that I feel Mizzou's defense is suspect, I also worry about Auburn's. The difference is, Auburn had to slow Bama down, not stop them. They aren't built to score lots or score fast, though they did at some points. Mizzou, on the other hand, can stretch you to all 4 corners of the field with Green-Beckam and Franklin. Additionally, Josey is quietly sneaking up on 1,000 yards. That's impressive considering how well Franklin runs AND throws. So why am I less scared of Mizzou than Bama? Well, Auburn has given up crazy yardage to everyone, but none more than to the mobile QBs such as MSU's Prescott, Manziel, and to a degree, Murray. The difference? Negative plays. Alabama doesn't have negative plays because their running game is so solid and the play action pass frees up the passer to make easy throws. Say what you will, but McCarron has made his living on play action. He is fantastic with it. Mobile QBs, on the other hand, play almost entirely behind the line. Do they gash you when they take off? Yes. But they also take 20 yard sacks and force errant throws on the run. Additionally, throw first teams like Mizzou, like TAMU, are always one play from a 3-and-out. That sounds cliche, so let me explain. They can gash and gash you time after time. But, for every 2 first downs you give up, if you can force a bad throw or get a sack, you can effectively end a drive.

What will Auburn's game plan be? Contain the outside of the pocket. Spy with the MLB, and hope that your interior lineman can make a few plays. Doesn't have to be a lot. But, like Dee Ford showed against TAMU, you can make 2 plays a game and win it for your team. Additionally, the Auburn defensive backs have thrived on making plays on slightly errant balls. Any time a QB is on the run, he will NOT make as accurate or as fast a pass as he would stepping into the pocket. Auburn has great closers in their two safeties. If the balls float, even a little, they will make them pay. Attention should be noted to the fact that Auburn has had a single takeaway in the last two games. It came on an errant throw from Murray, who was on the move. Additionally, they turnover margin hasn't been great the last few games. That will change this week. Look for Franklin to have a forced fumble, possibly a backside punch, and a pick.

Additionally, and I know everyone is tired of me singing the kids praises, but Therezie is quietly turning in one of the best seasons we have seen from a defensive back since 2004. His plays have been overshadowed in the last two weeks, but he has done everything from tackles for losses to pass breakups. What I love about him most of all is his determination to make a player pay for every yard. I know receivers are starting to take notice of it.

Mizzou moves the ball with ease. It's a good game at halftime. Auburn makes adjustments and an early 3rd quarter turnover forces a 14 point swing that forces Mizzou to get desperate. The run game is abandoned and the 3-and-outs pile up. They still post 450 yards, but are held to 21 points.

Special Teams
There won't be much in the way of special teams for Mizzou. It's a good thing, too. Parkey does have 1 field goal. He doesn't punt but twice all game. Auburn's return game continues to shine. I don't think it will be TDs, but they will flip fields.

Zach's Players to Watch
This one is going to be fun! Owens, #10, will showcase some terrific speed in containing Franklin. He has come on strong in the last few weeks. Pinkel will want to run way from Ford and the rest of the interior D-line, Gabe Wright, etc. Guess who will be waiting.

Mason. It's time to get on the Mason bus with the rest of us. He has the rarest blend of talent. Is he NFL ready? No. But he is New York ready. Will he win? No. I believe that honor should go to Lynch.

Dismukes and Prosch. Dismukes has dominated absolutely everyone. He makes all the calls. He is NFL ready. But boy, I hope he comes back next year. Additionally, Prosch didn't win every battle Saturday against the Tide, but he won enough against the toughest defense in the NCAA. He will absolutely clobber the Mizzou linebackers and defensive ends.

Uzomah. You think he has Marshall's trust? He isn't getting the targets I think he should, but that's because they don't throw it a lot. He may well be the biggest miss-match on either side of the ball at any time. 9 catches and 3 of them go for TDs. He could very well be at 12 catches for 5 TDs by Saturday night. From the slot, Mizzou cannot match up with him.

The Auburn corners. The safeties have played excellent all year. Green-Beckam and the receiver core at Mizzou are big and fast. They spread the field vertically too much for the Auburn corners to rely on their safeties for over the top help. If the safeties have to defend the sidelines, the dig routes and post routes will kill Auburn. The Auburn corners must win...not force stalemates...the battles in the air. I mean, they must tip the balls. They can't go 50/50. There will be a ton of 4 and 5 receiver sets and the individual battles must be won consistently. Additionally, the sets will pull an Auburn safety off the field and force a backup corner into nickle and dime coverage. The question becomes, is Auburn's 4th best corner better than the Mizzou WR3s and WR4s?

The Line
I respect Mizzou. They have done a fantastic job navigating the SEC-East. But, they choked against a very good, USCe team. They aren't ready for the train that is headed at them. If iron sharpens iron, we will see one of the most lopsided victories in the SEC Championship. It won't be 2010...but it will be close. The Tigers will pile up points to impress voters while propelling Mason into New York.

Auburn 52-21 

The Bama Review

Here are all my Auburn Realist posts!

Yes. I am well aware that I didn't do a Bama Preview. There was a combination of things that kept me from writing one. I have been extremely busy at work. I was emotionally drained and admittedly subjectively compromised after the Georgia Game, of which you can read about my adventures.

I know that sounds like a cop out, but I just couldn't bring myself to do a preview.

Now, I did do a Second Half of the Year check that out. I admit that it doesn't give a lot of insite to what I thought would happen, except that I predicted a win. On social media, such as my Facebook Page and Twitter (Go follow me!), I polled my followers and asked why it was that the nation's leading ground game was such and underdog to Alabama's defense. I didn't understand it. Apparently, neither did they, as 99% of the people who follow me thought that A) Auburn wouldn't break the century mark, since no one else would and B)Mason would not join the ever so short list of 100-yard Auburn Iron Bowl backs.

Well, I kept quiet, mostly. I dropped hints here and there on Twitter.....Mason would blow up. Auburn would run at will. And they would win.

You didn't believe me and the world didn't believe in Auburn. Guess what. That's exactly How. We. Like. It.

Ok. Anyway. Let's talk about how great the weekend is, because everyone was right in hindsight and in their own mind anyway.

So, we got word on Thursday...the week before...that camper spots were gone. No biggie. We elected to stay at my best friends house. We spent Wednesday and Thursday at Alyse's families place in Tuscaloosa. That was an adventure. But, come Friday morning, we headed across the state.

Friday evening, we conducted a new Thanksgiving tradition with Kevin and his family. We deep fried a Turkey. We ate. We drank. Then we slept. HAHA.
We were up at 6AM Saturday morning. We headed to ESPN College Gameday. Unfortunately, I have no good pictures to use because we couldn't get close to the stage. The air was already electric. The stage was set. Almost.

And that's when we kick started the party.

Again, I am so fortunate to have good friends. Some of those good friends are huge resident Auburn fans from high school. The Sutton brothers, in particular, along with my old friend Phillipe, pride themselves on a good tailgating experience. How do they do it? How about setting up at the corner of Plainsman Park and Donahue? How about gameday signs that trended on social media? How about a live honkey tonk band? And, of course, the Best5Zach and Aubie Chest Bump. Can't break tradition!

We kicked off the party and it never stopped. Again, all the credit to the Sutton and Friends Tailgate. Along with the awesome games, it has made this season absolutely UNREAL!

You all know how the game went. So I won't go into that.

But the party after the game...OH MY! Of course we fired up the DJ equipment on Donahue and hosted anyone and everyone to come dance with us. We lit up cigars and celebrated. Along the way, the players stopped by, like Corey Grant!

I don't know how we did, but we found Chris Davis' mom in the crowd. She stopped by and we got a pic of her. I immediately sent out a tweet saying how we all hugged her and thanked her, 'cause that's exactly what we did. Well, The War Eagle Reader saw it and featured it on his website. Credit Jonathan Sutton for the photo.
The highlight of my night was doing the Dougie with Gabe Wright. I had tweeted him earlier in the week and asked him to stop by. He did.

I can't even describe the atmosphere. It wasn't just after the win. It was all day. I must commend that Auburn Family. You cannot and will not find a better scene in college football. I don't say that as an Auburn fan. I can point at the neutral fan, such as my friend Neil, who are sold on Auburn.

I am kicking myself for having surgery tomorrow. I admit that I never gave the Tigers a chance at making it to Atlanta. And even if they lose the next two games, I will always say this was the best season ever.