No one expects Auburn officials to release a season-ending commemorative DVD this holiday season. Despite Auburn’s better than expected loss to LSU on Saturday, we all know this program is not built on moral victories.
What Saturday’s heartbreaking loss did provide players and coaches is hope. Media and fans have unloaded on the Auburn staff in recent weeks and rightfully so. Put simply, they haven’t earned their sizable salaries.
That changed Saturday night. Auburn is a long way from good. They may be a ways from average. But there’s no arguing this coaching staff got ever ounce of talent out of its players against LSU.
The stats won’t tell the story, but the Auburn defense grew up in its second SEC game of the year. For the first time this season, the defensive line put pressure on the quarterback. The linebackers were plain nasty at points in the game.
For the first time since Nick Fairley roamed Pat Dye Field, this unit showed confidence against one of the best offenses in the country. It was a most welcomed sight.
There were positives on offense. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier continues to improve, though not at the pace most had expected. At times, the offensive line opened up gaping holes for the running backs.
But let’s not kid ourselves, this offense remains woefully bad.
Auburn receivers continue to be uneven at best. A dropped pass by Sammy Coates in the first half could have been a game changer. The Scott Loeffler experiment remains just that at this point in the season.
It’s silly to suggest that Auburn has righted the ship. Expectations of winning out between now and Georgia are premature. But in a season that’s started 1-3, we now have hope.
Continued improvement like last week means Auburn should be competitive in every game it plays between now and mid-November. Piece together a string of victories in October and November and who knows what happens when Georgia comes to town November 10th.
Sure. That’s what hope does to you. It’s what players, coaches and fans need most heading to this off week. Be ready for all the negative talk among the state’s media.
You’ll hear the stat that Auburn has never lost three games in September a million times over the next two weeks. The Finebaum crowd will stir up stories of unrest within the Auburn coaching ranks. Be ready.
They can talk all they want. Saturday gave us something we haven’t had in two seasons: Hope.
Nothing they say can take that from us. It’s all we’ve got for now.
I’m going to embrace it.