Arghhh! I see it everywhere now!
Defense has always been a hallmark of Auburn. It’s always been a hallmark of the SEC. This conference originated the phrase about defense winning championships. We play football differently in the south. We take it personally if you score on us no matter how many points we may put up ourselves. We love to pitch the shut-out. We don’t like you moving the ball on us even if you don’t score any points. Three hundred yards of offense by an opposing team is cause for alarm. Four hundred is hateful. Five hundred is downright humiliating.
I take offense if a running back hangs a hundred on us–much greater if he manages two hundred. He grudgingly earns my respect though because that feat only happens once or twice a decade. Same with quarterbacks. I’m not sure if we’ve ever given up 400 yards to one guy in the last 25 years. During my time as an Auburn fan, we’ve never had a team hang 50 on us. We’ve never lost more than four in a row to one opponent and we’ve never given up 600 yards in a game.
Maybe there were more than a few firsts in this past weekend’s game against Clemson. Have you ever seen a game flip like that? We went from being on fire to making the other Tigers look like the Green Bay Packers. Most of the Auburn losses I’ve seen over the years were from us shooting ourselves in the foot too many times or being manhandled from the beginning, but I’ve never seen a momentum swing like this one. Sure, we can fade, but roll over? And all on mainly one side of the ball. After the end of the 2009 season, I used to joke that I knew we were in trouble when we went up 14-0. Looks like I might have to dust that quip off again.
If there’s one thing I hate after a loss like this is the inevitable excuses that follow and the fair-weather fan’s cries for heads to roll. I hate that fan more than anyone. I fully endorse Jay’s lambasting of these casual fans yesterday. One of the great things about TET is that you rarely see that sort of sensationalism here, among the editors or the readers. That’s not to say that there can’t be constructive criticism–there should be, and trust me, it is well-earned.
But what do you do after your first loss following a national championship season? I’ll tell you what you don’t do–you don’t fire your defensive coordinator. That wreaks of weakness. Look back to the 2008 season after Tony Franklin’s dismissal. Did that project strength, or was it merely deck chair placement on the Titanic? Probably, and we didn’t finish that year any better than we already were going to. It didn’t change a damn thing other than the public perception of just how desperate we were.
Are you deemed a more sophisticated fan because you want a coordinator’s head on a pike? I remember after the Florida loss in 1985, my freshman year, when my friends were calling for Jack Crowe’s firing. My retort: “Who’s Jack Crowe?” Ahhh, ain’t ignorance bliss. But no one dared call for Dye’s head. Doesn’t all the blame fall on the big guy? The boo-birds can’t go after Chizik, so they take the next path of least resistance–Ted Roof.
We have some serious problems on defense. We have a lack of personnel but we make up for it by having a lack of depth and experience. We keep our defense on the field too long–not because our offense is so quick, but because the other team simply chews up the yards. We don’t come close to running 80 plays on offense. We barely got 60 Saturday. Clemson had 80-something–and a serious time of possession advantage. But the one thing I don’t think this team has is a lack of is heart. These kids play theirs out each week and the least we can do is show our appreciation for it.
People are right–the coaching is weak. We don’t appear to be prepared. Mississippi State had their way with us two weeks ago when they discovered we couldn’t stop the option. During that stretch, we looked almost as bad trying to stop it as South Carolina did against Navy this past weekend. We managed to make a nobody QB in Clemson look like Tom Brady. We managed to make Dabo Swinney look like Bear Bryant. BTW: rumors were circulating on Atlanta sports talk yesterday about Swinney saying in his post game interviewthat it was only fitting for Auburn’s streak to be ended by an Alabama man (Swinney). Those are totally not true, you can catch his actual remarks here. I will say however that if I ever found myself at a Dabo Swinney motivational speech, they may have to take my shoe strings away from me.
So what’s up with the title of this thread? Is it the cut-off part of a Chicago song or the 6th season designation of the Jack Bauer series? And no, I haven’t done 624 threads on TET now. I for one think it should serve as our numerical Scarlet Letterfor all the world to identify our defensive failures. In Hawthorne’s world, the scripted A on Hester Prynne’s dress was a mark of shame. In our world, well, you see it on a lot of Houndstooth caps and technically it’s called Crimson, but I digress…
I think it should serve as reminder and motivator. If I was Ted Roof and the other defensive coaches, I’d write it in big orange numbers on the wall in the training room, for every player to see. They need to see the low-water mark. They need to be reminded of what they can never allow again. Take back the night. Let your greatest failure now serve you as your biggest motivator. Reclaim your dignity and the pride of this program. The fans back you–players and coaches alike. We will be patient while you make your adjustments and grow stronger. The true fans will overshadow the pretenders among us. For you. War Eagle!