Fear and (of) Losing in Baton Rouge

By Posted on: September 24th, 2013 in Featured Article, Football 17 Comments »
lsu game

One of the hardest things about contributing to TET is wondering if my sentiments echo those of our readers. Other than the odd fan email or cyber stalker, it can be tough to determine. Only a small percentage of you actually comment and rarely does anyone go too far out on a limb or in-depth. Blogs are one thing but social media is a Tiger of a different color. Facebook was ringing out resoundingly Saturday night from Auburn fans after the game and the message was clear: Auburn didn’t quit, and although you can’t cop to a moral victory these days, fans were proud how the team played their hearts out. For myself, I saw a little bit more.

It’s strange. I don’t think that we see quite the candor on a blog where one can hide somewhat behind the anonymity of the internet than you do on an individually wrapped Facebook or Twitter page. Few were interested in blaming the elements, singling out individual players, or accusing us of shooting ourselves in the foot. One friend lamented that had that been Gene Chizik’s team, they would have lost 49-7. Now that’s pretty harsh. Overall it was encouraging to see how this team handled adversity and left heads held high even in defeat from the venue where we hadn’t tasted victory since Tuberville’s first year. Yea, that long ago.

Any freshman pysch major could tell you that you have to face your fears, and a Louisiana Saturday night in Death Valley is the equivalent for Auburn, considering our recent history in that stadium and with that team. We had lost the last five out of six games to the Bayou Bengals, the worst streak ever against them. As a possible omen, LSU celebrated the 25th anniversary of The Earthquake Game and former QB Tommy Hodson was on hand to commemorate.  It’s a shame Auburn hasn’t contributed more  to nicknaming these games lately.  The Quit Game two years ago doesn’t count.

If the skies were going to be a monsoon all night, Auburn knew it couldn’t get behind and try to throw in that weather. They and LSU were both going to try and run the ball no matter what the forecast, that was a given. Both teams were anxious about their QB play. Unfortunately, neither the pass nor the rush worked for us in the first half. We hadn’t barely a hundred yards of offense by the break and were down three scores. Given this team’s track record the last two years against our major conference rivals, it wouldn’t be hard to expect them to just quit. The LSU fans certainly thought so, as they left in droves, victory virtually assured.

But something else opened up in the second half besides the rain clouds–Auburn’s resolve. While they hadn’t shown up in the first half, they would in the second. The offense finished with 437 yards. They kept attacking–frantically. Nick Marshall stepped up in a big way and hit Sammy Coates for some monster gains. Trey Mason kept chugging away. The defense made adjustments and held better. Malzahn rolled the dice on 4th down five times. Auburn held the time of possession advantage for the first time in forever against a major opponent, and–get this–we reeled off 85 offensive plays. That’s exactly what Malzahn’s offense needs to thrive and to win in this conference. LSU was out of gas late in that game. Our offense was wearing them out. If there had only been a little more time on the clock and if only we had caught one more break or two. If only.

We talked last week about how the last drive in the State game gave this team their confidence. That was nothing compared to how far this team came of age in the second half in Baton Rouge Saturday night. If they didn’t prove it to the fans–the fair-weather and the diehards alike–no worries, they definitely proved it to the coaches and themselves.

Things might be a little different on the Plains these next two weeks. A little swagger might have returned to campus, a lot more confidence may have returned deep inside each player’s heart. Far-fetched coming off a two-touchdown loss, you say? I don’t think so. Never have I seen so much built on top of a losing conference game. Maybe it’s taken the depths of the SEC cellar to see it, but the lesson is clear. Auburn is finding it’s groove once again. I’m not big on predictions, but I think we’re going to take down one of the big three left on our schedule–aTm, Georgia, Alabama. Mark it down.

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  1. sparkey sparkey says:

    I think we’ll beat Georgia. They’ve got no defense to stop us and we will run all over them. On top of that, their running backs are already starting to feel the wear and tear of an SEC schedule. I wonder if they can handle it until they come back to Auburn. Aaron Murray is the only thing on that team that will keep them as the favorite going in that night. I think we take that one, though.

  2. auhousefly says:

    I would disagree that the rush was not working for us in the first half. I think it was there, we just tried to hard to establish the pass. I actually feel the receivers were open, Nick just couldn’t find the touch in the first half, which may or may not be the result if the glove on his throwing hand.

  3. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    This team somewhat resembles the ’81 team, at least in terms of attitude and spirit. The coaching staff is going to have to keep their feet on the gas. The learning curve in the SEC is steeper than ever. Will the players lose their spirit after more tough losses like Saturday? More losses are probably coming but so might some big wins. If everything comes together on some future 2013 fall Saturday, and I mean everything, this team could send some of the current SEC heavyweights home crying. Gus and the team will need a signature win before this season ends. Bama looks very beatable.

    • mikeautiger says:

      This game at LSU reminded me some of the ’81 team that played GA @ AU. They fought all the way to the end and came close to winning the game. But most of all it was a game that they seemed to get it, turned the corner, and you knew better days were ahead and they were back. Same for this game @ LSU, they fought till the end and if a few things had gone our way we would have taken it to the wire. This could be seen as the game they came of age and are in it to play Auburn football and people will know when they are playing Auburn they better bring their A age cause Auburn is going to be in it to win and is going to fight to the end.

      • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

        Better days are not far off. We need to stand behind each and every player and coach.

        One team, one voice inside Jordan Hare and on the road.

        WDE

  4. wpleagle says:

    I’m not a frequent commenter. I do enjoy this blog, and I think the vast majority of the participants are calling things as they see them without a lot of acrimony. It’s refreshing compared to some of the sniping and trash talking that passes for commentary on other blogs.

    I’ve read all the member posts as well as the “main”posts. I was on campus 1962 – 66, so I go back a few years, and I recall the excitement of the mid-50s when AU started to make waves again, culminated in the 1957 NC and holding Tennessee to minus yardage on national TV in 1958.

    I think coaches are held to almost impossibly high standards today, although I also believe the amount of money they’re paid justifies a lot of the expectations. I could return on one year of Gus’ compensation.

    And, I’m not a football expert. I marvel at how fellows like Acid, just to mention one, pick up on the technical stuff in the games and comment so well on them.

    Having said all that, it seems to me that there’s a definite upward progression on this year’s team. I think we need to keep in mind that the current coaching staff is having to dance with who brung ‘em, so to speak. Our much maligned Mike linebacker is who we got – we just need to use him as best as we can until we can develop someone better!

    I do wonder about the slow starts, and I’ll be happy when we start coming out of the gate better. This, too, however, is not new, and I remember scratching my head on more than one occasion when a Tuberville team would come out of the gate like it didn’t give a damn, especially against teams that we should have beaten easily. It’s great that we’ve seen defensive adjustments, but the adjustments I want to see consist of maybe taking it easy on a beaten opponent without letting them score two touchdowns in the 4th quarter and making the game look closer than it was.

    The cupboard’s not bare, but it’s going to take time to put it all together. As long as we continue to show progress, I’ll be happy. And I always remember one thing about Shug – he never, ever put the onus on his players for a loss. It happened on his watch, and as far as the fans were concerned, it was his responsibility (although, I’m confident that offending players heard about it in private.)

    I bleed blue and orange and love Auburn more with every passing year. War Eagle!

    • wpleagle says:

      Oops – I could RETIRE on one year of Gus’ compensation.

      • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

        Well said wpleagle!
        A lot of sage wisdom in those remarks. We need to hear from you more often.
        War Eagle!

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      Welcome! and Well said!

      Also, I got stuck somewhere around ‘holding Tennessee to negative yardage” in 1958. Good stuff.

    • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

      Great thoughts and please comment more…

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      You and my father (AU Class of ’63) probably crossed paths down on the Plains.

      You are right about Jake Holland. He is our guy and we need to have his back. Considering what he has been through and how he handles himself, I would welcome him on my track anytime.

  5. Eagle1 says:

    This team has one thing that seemed to be lacking last year, “GUTS.” If Auburn gets a win over Ole Miss on the 5th, after that I believe that a win over any team that we play is possible.
    War Eagle!

  6. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    So, Greg, um, I’ve got a question. Yeah, sooooo, do I count as an ‘odd fan’ or ‘cyberstalker’….just want to be clear on the terms ;)

    Couple of comments:
    1. Tre Mason is a BEAST! LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing him run throw tackles and powering out for a couple of more yards.
    2. Didn’t hear Uzomah’s name, like hardly, at all on Saturday-I think that needs to change. We’ve got some playmakers, I just hope that we are good at getting them the ball. Although Uzomah needs to focus on getting some of those blockity blocks in place.
    3. The Mike. D00ds. I don’t care if your last name is Holland. Get your ass in the game and start tackling like it’s your job, because guess what?: IT IS YOUR JOB TO TACKLE!!!!! In case there was any confusion on that point, hopefully now, it’s all cleared up. You’re welcome.
    4. My guess is that when Marshall hears thunder in Auburn, he’s grabbing the nearest pigskin and a receiver or two and running out to toss the ball around.

    In closing: It’s like when Fall comes. There’s something different in the air. I felt that difference in the second half of the game on Saturday. It’s more than signs of life. These kids had every reason to mail it in. Instead, they had many of us riveted AND believing in the impossible. That’s not lightning in a bottle; that’s pure grit and determination. Work the Program and ye shall be rewarded.
    War Eagle!

  7. AUJTJarhead AUJTJarhead says:

    The Linebacker HAS to be the most instinctive player on the field. Football is partly a chess match.Everytime that LSU would line up in the “I”, both Linebackers have to anticipate a fullback coming forward to blow you out. In that split second after the play begins, the linebacker that is being attacked HAS to come forward, meet the fullback in the hole and blow him up. Holland, and this is not personal, just isn’t cutting it. Now I know this isn’t news, but for the life of me, I can’t believe that he is the best candidate for the job.

    His reaction time is slower than syrup on an uphill run. He reacts too slowly to receivers dragging over the middle, ect… I wanted to pull my hair out when the fullback had time to get up a head of steam and blow him out because Holland wasn’t meeting him in the hole.

    If I’m the Linebackers coach, (and I’m not) I am borrowing Prosch from the offense and putting each Linebacker squarely in front of him. Let Prosch get up a five yard head of steam with orders to obliterate the Linebacker. The Linebacker that can stop Prosch best in his tracks is my new Linebacker. I say this because I do not believe Holland is the the winner. As we said in the Corps, “That kid might not be the smartest, but, He fights!

    • WarEagleAtlanta WarEagleAtlanta says:

      COMMENT OF THE DAY HERE: Great analysis and very diplomatic. The Marines must have had you in an embassy post. :-)

      Look, I can’t disagree with your statements and your critique is very respectful. I hate when I see (at other sites) commentary about how Holland just sucks. These kids play their best for OUR team and short of a coaching problem, it’s a personnel problem.

    • sparkey sparkey says:

      Honestly, he looks scared to tell you the truth. After watching him over and over again, I’m not sure he is that slow. I think he’s scared of those mountain of injuries all over him. He honestly seems timid. If he is the general of the defense and knows how to line up everybody against the offense, then he has to have an idea what the offense is going to do correct? If that’s the case, why does he look so slow? It seems as though he’s gun shy.

  8. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Uzomah was out there maybe a third of the time, blocking mostly. Auburn ran him on the out and up route a few times late, and LSU had him bracketed every time.

    …..I’m definitely one of those odd fans, although hopefully not cyberstalker-y!