Monday, October 6, 2014

The LSU Review

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Greetings from Utah! Yep. Back at work here in Ogden. The long and short of it? This was the first game that I can remember that I was away from my wife. Truth be told, the LSU tickets were the first tickets that we sold. I sold them off a Facebook group within minutes of having them delivered. Of course we find out that Justin, who runs our WORLD FAMOUS (not really, but it is awesome) tailgate spot, had circled this game as one of the big games of the year. Meaning: low country boil, live music by River Dan and the River Dan Band, and of course, being on the steps at the Tiger Walk. Even though I had zero chance of getting out of this work (and to be honest, it was hard to turn down the opportunity to earn this much overtime), I wanted her to go...desperately. After all, you don't have to go to the game to have a great time, as we found out at the Iron Bowl last year.
Miraculously, she scored 2 free tickets from 97.7 The Zone. She dumped the boys off and took Aubree to see her first LSU game. Alyse has been great luck to Auburn while playing LSU, having seen the 2004 and 2010 games. So, I sat in a hotel room while she and Aubree enjoyed the festivities. But, Aubree kept my streak going by getting some Aubie love!  Check them out! Can you name the players?

Alright, on to the game! So, how did we do? Well, that part is evident. The real Tigers curb stomped LSU in the 1st half. But, was it as I had expected in my LSU Preview?

Auburn's Defense vs LSU's Offense
The LSU offense vs Auburn defense went exactly as we thought it would. So much so that I won't even discuss the second half. I expected to see a fumble by either the freshman QB or RB. That happened on the first series of the game, reminiscent to 2013, though Auburn didn't recover . What did happened was 3 straight 3-and-outs to start the game followed by a garbage play from Trovon Reed, who went for a pick instead of knocking the ball down against Dupre to set up LSU's 1 and only score. Harris had zero shot in this game after the first series and it showed with an abysmal completion ratio. Up front, Auburn was once against dominate against the run and still provided a few sacks mixed in. Johnson brought the blitz from every position, just like we knew he would, and it destroyed any rhythm LSU might have tried to establish. All told, Auburn forced 7 3-and-outs and hold LSU without a single 3rd Down conversion. 280 total yards of offense allowed. That's not bad. But, although the Tigers were dominate, I caution everyone to buy in to Auburn as an elite defense. Les Miles hit the panic button after MSU. The success rate of freshman QBs in the SEC is almost nonexistent. And while it may be good to shake up a win or two, it is a self destruct button for the player. What I will say is this: Auburn isn't great at any 1 position....yet. But there isn't a weakness on the field that I feel is a liability. When the ball goes in the air, I no longer dread what is about to happen. Though Reed gave up a garbage play, his cover skills in the last few weeks have improved dramatically to where I wouldn't throw at him. And he is the LEAST experienced of the bunch! That is, other than Ruffin, who was booted for a targeting hit. And, I still think that was a mercy ruling from the officials.  Up front, we don't have that dominating player, but that's ok, too. It takes away a focal point for the opposing offense. So, again, let's not drink the coolaid QUITE yet. We have 1 more big test for our defense coming this weekend. If they pass it, (and you will have to read my next post to see), then I will deem them worthy of the Auburn defenses of old. And, it comes down to 1 guy. Talk about pressure!

Auburn's Offense vs LSU's Defense
Auburn scored on its first 4 series including 3 TDs. They scored on 5 of 7 first half series. They ran. They threw. They were versatile. And, we saw just what these receivers were capable of doing. Marshall and Johnson hit 9 different receivers. The Coates catch was amazing, but perhaps the most astounding catch of the day wasn't a TD at all. Instead, it was a chain moving, diving catch by Duke. The ball looked impossibly out of reach, but he showed why wingspans matter. He must have covered 10 yards with the combination of his dive and his wingspan. The other telling stat? CAP had 3 catches for 35 yards in addition to another 100 yard day, showing his true versatility. You may recall that I wrote way back (even to last year) that he was deadly catching the ball. In fact, in A-Day 2013, he led in receiving yards! I expected him to be a big pass catcher in 2013, but by the LSU game, Auburn's identity had been forged behind Mason and there wasn't a need for him. But, that will change this year. If you can scare defenses with Coates and Williams (and there isn't a defense out there that isn't scared), you can break a game wide open early by throwing wheel routes to CAP. This offense will score as many points as Gus wants it to score. Sure, the Kansas State game aside....

Auburn shut it down in the 2nd half, and while I despise taking the boot off an opponents throat, this was one opponent that wasn't getting up after getting punched in the mouth. But, we saw what happened back in January when you let a quality opponent get up from being knocked down. The thing is, this victory was tied for the largest margin of victory for Auburn against LSU. So, it's hard to really nit pick at points. If I were Gus, and I'm not, I wouldn't give Bama the same treatment come November. And, mark my words, that will become reality.

You may recall that I posed a question to Coach back at the Tiger Trek 2014 about the reality of setting Auburn offensive records, across the board. A few games into the season and it sure looks like it could be a reality.