On to Rocky Top…

By Posted on: November 4th, 2013 in Football 9 Comments »
Neyland Stadium

Watching the Auburn logo flash up on ESPN’s BCS Countdown Show last night was surreal. 8-1. Ranked ninth in the BCS. Has a team who finished winless in the SEC a year prior ever soared to such heights the following season? If so, I can’t remember it.

Auburn is no longer just a nice story. This isn’t a team that’s just found luck. Gus Malzahn’s guys aren’t just good, they are bordering on something bigger. It’s safe to say they are now a threat to win the SEC Championship.

It won’t be easy. Nor will it be easy for Alabama, Missouri or anybody else. The party can be over in 60 minutes or go until winter. Saturday will be much harder than it looks.

It’s Tennessee week. It feels weird writing this sentence in November. Aren’t we always supposed to play in early September?

It was once one of the great rivalries in the SEC.

None of that will matter Saturday. It’s all about 60 minutes in Neyland Stadium. Despite being outscored 76-13 in its last two games against Alabama and Missouri, Las Vegas has made Auburn only a touchdown favorite. It’s never easy playing on the banks of the Tennessee River.

The Volunteers play like a different team at home. Sitting 4-5 overall, Tennessee has won four of its five games in Knoxville, including a 23-21 win over South Carolina on Oct. 19. They lost a heartbreaker to Georgia 34-31 in early October.

Auburn will catch a break when freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs lines up under center in place of Justin Worley who’s out a month following thumb surgery. Against Missouri, Dobbs played like a freshman, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in Tennessee’s 31-3 loss.

Auburn comes into the contest surprisingly healthy for it to be the tenth game of the year. Talking yesterday, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said his group should be at full strength. The same can be said on the offensive side of the ball.

Look for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to spread the ball around more this week following Tre Mason’s 32 carries against Arkansas. With Georgia and Alabama looming, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne will be expected to shoulder more of the load in the backfield.

Like in Fayetteville, look for Auburn to keep the ball on the ground. Tennessee ranks dead last in the SEC against the run, giving up an average of 202 yards a game.

On paper, this looks like an Auburn win. It should be an Auburn win. But memories are made on both sides in November. Anything can happen when the weather turns. It’s one game at a time.

A win in Knoxville and Auburn can finally turn its attention to Georgia and Alabama. Grab a victory Saturday afternoon and you have to like Auburn chances at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Call me a homer, but I have a growing suspicion that something special may be brewing – something big.

One game at a time.

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  1. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    The Vols are Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. They can play really well sometimes, and then play very poorly. What happened earlier in the season has little bearing on most teams at this point. A lot has changed for everybody. Tough competition has eroded team rosters. But if we look at recent games we get a more predictable picture of what is likely to occur this Saturday.

    Tennessee could not score against Mizzou. But, they were able to keep the game close defensively (Tenn 0- Mizzou 7) in the first quarter. Then Mizzou pulled away. However, the Vol defense once again asserted itself in the third quarter (Tenn 3- Mizzou 31) and Mizzou never scored again the rest of the game.

    I’m not sure what to make of this weird factoid other than Tennessee has something like a defense at times, but almost no offense ever.

    Auburn should win. But the Tigers have to pay attention to detail and keep emotions and expectations in check. Auburn 40, Tennessee 20.

  2. DBAU81 says:

    “One game at a time” is exactly right. This is a classic trap game if we get caught looking ahead. This past Saturday’s uneven performance (at least on the defensive side) may actually pay dividends and result in a sharper focus this week. So far this coaching staff has done a superb job of preparing the team to play game by game. I expect that trend to continue this week.

  3. AUJTJarhead AUJTJarhead says:

    It was interesting to read that two different players were quoted as saying “last weeks practice was not good.” As an old coach myself I know that it is hard to keep everyone focused every week. We forget that the guys are still kids sometimes. The timing was right to have a letdown week and they should refocus just fine. Gus seems to point out the issues good and bad to the team and I don’t think he will let anything get by him. Ball security on offense and lane coverage on D, and we should be fine.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      They are probably having difficulty focusing on teams like Arkansas and Tennessee. Human nature has them looking forward to the toughest upcoming competition, UGA and UU (Updyke Univ.). It’s time for the coaching staff to bring the team back down to earth.

  4. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I think a rough game on Saturday will hopefully mean that this team won’t take any team left on the roster for granted…..that might sound weird since we won by 18-BUT, the D needs to step up and stop that run. They just provided our future foes with plenty of fodder for offensive schemes…..

    One week at a time. One Saturday at a time. These guys have superseded all of my expectations. Why can’t I just be happy with the 8 wins? The huge turnaround? I know–this team, these guys have me believing in so much more.

    War Eagle! Happy Monday! 6 days, 2 hours, 7 minutes til game time…….

  5. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I’m more worried about the UGA game than this one (since UGA is getting it’s playmakers back), but this should be an excellent primer for the home stretch. I disn’t see any of the UT-Mizzou game, but it sounds like their freshman QB was in over his head, hopefully AU can disrupt him like Mizzou did. I think we win this one comfortably along the lines of the Arky game, but I’d still love to see 60-10. War Eagle!

  6. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    Oh.My.Goodness. One Game At A Time. We had this same mantra in 2010. Every game became a big game and we had to win. I can’t believe I am even talking this way again……I never would have thought this after last year….

    These young men understand what is before them but the coaching staff is handling it just right. There’s no need to look ahead as they say because if you don’t win the next one then the rest doesn’t matter. Speculating is for the fans. They know they have to win to move on up and only the next game matters. It will all shake out in the end.

    I am so proud for these young men. They have already exceeded every expectation I had for the season. I am just going to enjoy the ride and know It’s Great To Be an Auburn Tiger!!!

  7. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    ONE GAME AT A TIME! Nothing else matters except this game. This team reminds me of the Amazin’s of 1972. They had no really outstanding stars, just a group of blue collar workers that got the job done on Saturdays. The coaching staff and the attitude is probably the greatest turnaround in recent history. Just keep on believing and working. AND, NEVER FORGET:

    IT’S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!! (EVEN IN WHITE JERSEYS)

  8. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Just saw that Tre won SEC offensive POW honors. War Eagle!