Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The TAMU Review

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.
Join my ESPN College Pick 'Em Group! CLICK HERE!

One of the biggest benefits of being an Auburn fan has been that you rarely lose games you should win. You might lose games to teams ranked below you, but rarely have Auburn fans had to endure The Egg. As in, laying The Egg. Sure, we have watched teams from across the country do it year after year, but I don't recall Auburn ever doing it. Perhaps the closest would be the 2012 season to Vandy. But, as we saw by the years end, Auburn couldn't have beaten anyone. 

Under Malzahn, it would be hard to believe something like this would be possible. Yet, last year's LSU game, this year's MSU game all had that feel. The feel of a team that didn't really come prepared to play. I have to admit that I would be willing to accept one game a year, if it means going on to beat our rivals and reach the SEC Championship game. Many fears were realized Saturday as Auburn allowed TAMU to come out of the tunnel and throw up 7 points in a drive that looked like a flag football game. And, in the fashion that has proven to be Auburn's undoing, they put the ball on the turf on their first series, nay, the first play on offense. TAMU rammed the ball through on a short field to go up 14-0 with a mere 2 minutes gone from the clock. Though I am not a negative person, I went to my Facebook page and essentially said that Auburn was done and they might as well head to the locker room. The players were flat. The fans were flat. It seemed rather obvious that Auburn was ill-prepared. 

That may sound a little fatalist, but let's remember what I wrote just days before this game. 

Regarding the Auburn Defense vs TAMU Offense:

"Despite all the railing I can heap on TAMU, I have LEGITIMATE concerns going into this game. They might sound small, but like how little knicks and cuts can add up, so can little concerns. While the TAMU offense has struggled, it could be against the Tigers that it finds new life. Kyle Allen is no scrub. This kid came out of HS as one of the best recruits in the country. While he didn't torch the over-matched Warhawks, he didn't have to. This was a tune up game. Get out there, work up a lather, then hand the ball off and seal the game. With a road trip to a hostile environment in Jordan-Hare coming up, Sumlin wasn't about to show too much. Why? Because he has learned something from the NFL. If you watch the NFL and play fantasy, one of the lessons you will learn is that the first game for a new skill player will almost always be their best because winning in the NFL is just as much about preparation as it is with talent.... Offense's have been able to put up massive passing yards. Couple that with an Auburn defense that can't get any pressure, and Allen has a legitimate chance to make huge waves. I believe he will have a huge game."

I went on to say that there is only one way to really beat the Aggies. That is to force 3-and-outs or create turnovers in the first quarter. If you allow them to put points on the board first and build a lead, they are tough to beat. And, that's exactly what happened. It wasn't until the 4th quarter that anything RESEMBLING a defense showed up. But, I am here to tell you that the 4th quarter stops were more about the Aggies milking the clock that Auburn forcing the punts. 

Speaking of the Auburn defense....where is it? Since 2007, the Auburn defense has consistently underperfomed expectations. Even in 2010, the defense was a liability though it featured at least 3 future NFL players. Despite changes in head coaches and coordinators, the defense continues to slide. Earlier in the season, it was easy to point about the loss of Carl Lawson and Dee Ford and expect less production. But the lack of pressure up front has been woeful from the beginning, forcing constant blitzes from linebackers, corners, and safeties. These blitzes have forced 1 on 1 situations on the back end that have rarely been won. Opposing teams have learned that Auburn does have enough talent on the corners to play the deep ball. Instead, they have thrown intermediate and short routes at the coverage, whose backs are frequently turned. Coupled with missed tackles in the middle of the field, opposing teams have been able to convert a nasty percentage of passes and turn the Yards After Catch number into video game numbers. 

I really didn't want to be staring Georgia Hate Week in the face talking about how bad the defense is. And, I certainly don't like being so negative, but there has been nothing but regression from week 1. I haven't looked up the stats, but Auburn may be on pace to beat the 2012 mark for Worst Defense in Auburn History. Hard to believe that a unit that many, myself included, would be the top pass rushing front in the country has been, statistically, one of the very worst. 

Regarding what I said about the  Auburn offense vs. TAMU Defense:

"If you don't think Auburn players and coaches aren't looking ahead, you have lost your mind. They are already preparing for UGA and almost certainly haven't devoted 100% of their effort to TAMU, especially on offense. Undoubtedly, the Auburn offense is high on itself after their conquests against one of the nation's best defenses. The scary thing is, the Auburn offensive line has not played with the chip that the 2013 squad played with. The last few weeks have been impressive, sure, but let's not forget the woes that we have seen against other teams. Auburn's offense is at it's worst when it thinks it's superior to the team it's playing. And, you know it thinks it's better than TAMU's struggling D. "

What happened? 3 lost fumbles and one of the worst game ending mistakes I have EVER seen, right on par with Kick 6. Despite putting up massive numbers, the Tigers failed to succeed when it really mattered. I can't help but point to the 1st and last offensive plays of the game as case-in-point that the Auburn Tigers never took the Aggies seriously. My last thoughts on the Review?

"Statistically, you look at TAMU and you laugh. They have a 3 game losing streak against SEC teams. They allow massive points on defense. And they have a freshman QB making his first SEC start in a tough place. But, the Auburn crowd against USC was mundane and quiet until the 4th quarter. I have been pretty quiet about that, but it was disturbing that the air during pregame was lax and the crowd was quiet. This is a very similar game where the Auburn fan base sees TAMU as over-matched and without a chance. As a result, this is a "take the kids" type game. No electricity. No dominating noise. I admit that I also fell into this category in the South Carolina Game.  Auburn has a defense that struggles to get any pressure on QBs and is UNDOUBTEDLY looking forward to the UGA game next week. The Auburn offense is at it's worst coming off of dominating performances The perfect storm is setup for TAMU to get a win against a Top 3 team."

I admit that if I really believed what I typed, I would have called the game for TAMU instead of the 45-35 for Auburn prediction. Yet, I really did think it was not only possible, but likely. It's awfully tough for such an Auburn Homer like myself to realize that not only are we NOT going to the SEC Championship and the Playoffs, but we don't deserve to be there, anyway. 

It really is hard to accept that, but we have to remember WHO we are. I have seen a lot of social media pointing to this. We the fans, and certainly the players, have played this season like we deserved to be there, regardless of how we played. And, like Alabama in 2010, it showed. The good news is, we still have at least 3 more games, 2 in the National Spotlight, to prove that we are deserving.