arrow-circle arrow-long-stroke arrow-stroke arrow-thick arrow-thin arrow-triangle icon 2 baseballCreated with Sketch. basketball calendar category check-circle check-square check comment facebook-circle facebook-icon facebook-rounded facebook-square facebook-stroke football instagram-circle instagram-icon instagram-square long-arrow-right rss-circle rss-rounded rss-square rss-stroke rss twitter-circle twitter-icon twitter-rounded twitter-square twitter-stroke user-group user

A Dose of Reality….

By on September 26th, 2013 in Member Post 23 Comments »

Good afternoon all.  I have been too busy for my weekly write up until this point, but I have a lot that I want to say about the LSU game. 

I would like to say that I just read wde1988’s column entitled “For Your Consideration…”, and I tend to agree with a lot of what he says.  As long as I’ve been on this site, there are quite a few people on here that tend to be, for lack of a better euphemism, have too much sunshine up their butt.  Make no mistake about it, I am very hopeful for the future and believe that we have made quite a few strides already, but I also accept the reality that we have a LONG way to go, much further than most people on here believe.

Like wde1988, I say this simply because I am well aware of the expectations of most people here, and I find most of them quite unrealistic and some as downright ridiculous.  Just before the LSU game I read double digit numbers of supremely homer-esque predictions of us beating the number 6 team in the country, on the road, in bad weather, a year after we won a grand total of 3 games.  If that isn’t ridiculous, I don’t know what is. 

Here is the reality:  We have 3 wins.  There are 2 OOC cupcake games left, which should equal 2 wins.  Of the SEC games, we SHOULD win at least 1 game out of Arkansas and Tennessee.  As far as ranked teams, Ole Miss should win, and Georgia, A&M, and the Turds should beat us handily.  That puts us at 6 wins, which is pretty much exactly what I predicted last year.  We could conceivably win both TN and AR games, which puts us at 7, and if by some kind of miracle we happen to beat 1 of Ole Miss, Georgia, Bama, or A&M, that puts us at 8 wins.  What are our realistic chances?  Honest to God, I think our best chance of a win of those 4 games is Ole Miss or Alabama.  Our defense will get decimated by JFF and there is no way in hell that Jake Holland or any of our LB corps will be able to tackle Todd Gurley.  Ole Miss though, is ‘new money’ as far as being a good team, and Bammer looks VERY vulnerable.  There are more than a few holes in their vaunted defense, and we all know that Nick Saban’s kryptonite is a hurry-up offense, (reference his whining and crying in the offseason about LOL-player safety-LOL). 

The real reason Nick Saban hates hurry up offenses is because his entire defensive philosophy is based on packages.  He has different player packages for every single down and yardage situation, and is constantly switching between the two.  With a hurry up offense, he can’t do that, and it kills him.  This is perhaps the greatest weapon we have against the turds, and the reason I think of those 4 teams, with the exception of Ole Miss, they are the ones we have the best chance to beat. 

However, there is an unfortunate reality that most people on here refuse to accept at this time:  We just simply aren’t that good. 

The coaching staff is fine, and progress is being made.  I’m not calling for any heads, and am not ranting and raving like I was last year.  Malzhan is not the incompetent that Chizik was.  I also find it amusing that the SAME thing that happened to us last year has been happening at Texas the last 2 or 3 years.  Guess who Gene Chizik’s coaching mentor was?  If you said Mack Brown, you win the prize.  They both are very poor head coaches who won a BCSNC the exact same way:  with a once in a generation super-athlete quarterback.  If we had given Chizik another year, we’d just like Texas right now.  However, we made the tough choice that needed to be made, and now we have hope. 

Despite all the positivity, we do have problems, both in coaching and in execution.  Some questions have to be asked. 

Is Nick Marshall REALLY our best option at quarterback?

Marshall, unfortunately, just isn’t very good.  We are seeing now why he was recruited as a DB and NOT as a QB.  He shows flashes of brilliance, but most of the time he just isn’t that good at all.  He misses wide open receivers and makes bad decisions throwing considerably more than he should.  Where he seems to be best is in the 2 minute offense, but even then he still makes big mistakes.  It’s painfully obvious that Malzhan doesn’t really trust him yet, and the playcalling during every game to this point proves it.  I don’t seem to see much progression of that trust either.  Malzhan is giving him little to no freedom in this area, and that is not good, because it defeats the entire purpose of the ‘hurry up’ offense.  Also, it limits Malzhan because it allows teams to stack up against the run, not really believing that Marshall is a threat throwing the ball.  Until we get better at the QB position, we will NOT be good enough to compete with an elite SEC team.

Why are our LB’s so bad?

With the exception of Kris Frost, our LB’s are terrible.  Our ‘best’ LB Jake Holland, tackles like my grandmother.  The middle of the field is wide open every game, and we are seemingly unable to stop a good running game.  Until we can recruit a few more Kris Frosts, our defense will always have a HUGE hole in it.  This does not bode well for playing ANY SEC team, much less a good one. 

What is up with the playcalling?

I have not liked the playcalling very much this year.  As I said earlier, some of this can be attributed to lack of trust in the new QB and the offensive personnel.  However, with Gus Malzhan as our head coach, I have noticed a few things about him that I haven’t liked that much.  For one thing, he seems to be a REALLY BAD micromanager when it comes to the offense.  He won’t trust his QB, he won’t trust Rhett Lashlee to call the plays, and he is generally playing Chicken Ball, (ref. last week’s ranting).  At some point, Gus is going to have to grow a pair and take some chances, whether Marshall is that good or not.  He will NEVER beat a good team in the SEC coaching the way he does now.  Another big problem I have with Gus is his penchant to move away from what’s working.  During the LSU game, if he had kept giving the ball to Tre Mason, he would have had 200 yards.  But every time Mason showed some success, he’d pull him and try something else.  It’s like he was afraid to keep pushing success. 

As I said last week, football is NOT a game you can play scared, or especially coach scared.  Right now, Malzhan is coaching scared.  He’s coaching NOT TO LOSE, rather than to WIN.  As long as he’s doing this, we’ll never be good.  I’d rather see us lose 70-0 while leaving it all out on the field than see us lose 35-21 playing scared.  That kind of stuff starts at the top, with the head coach.  These players are kids, and they have to screw up to learn.  Gus has a free pass this year, and possibly next year as well.  He should be using this time to teach these kids to be fearless. 

Why in the hell is Kiehl Frazier running the Wildcat?  For that matter why do we even run the stupid thing?

News flash coaches, the Wildcat DOESN’T FRICKING WORK.  It hasn’t for years.  The only reason it worked for a while is because it was new and defensive coaches didn’t know what to expect.  Now, it’s been seen.  Whenever a team lines up in the Wildcat, all defenses do is say ‘OK, here comes a run, stack the box.’  The Wildcat might work if there was a genuine threat to throw and it forced teams to account for it, but no coach in the country seems to have the stones to try it, including Gus.  Just get rid of it for God’s sake.  Stop trying it.  It’s stupid. 

 

Of course, these are the negatives.  There are MANY positives this year, too.  This is the difference between this year and last year.  This year I have hope, and I see things that make me really look forward to the future.  Things like the following:

Our secondary is so much better than last year it makes me weep with joy.  I see a bright future there, and us having some shutdown corners.  Our safeties are smarter and better tacklers then I have seen in a while at that position. 

Our DL, while not being dominating, is doing a decent to good job and will only get better.   

Our OL is the same as the DL.  They aren’t dominating anybody, but they are looking quite adequate and even good at times.  They, too, will ONLY get better.  The future looks bright.

We are returning to the mantra of ‘running back U”.  All our RB’s look like they could play at the next level.  While some are still young and have problems, overall as a group they look GREAT, and in a year or two they will be dominating the SEC. 

I am quickly developing a man-crush on Ricardo Louis.  He is big, fast, has good hands, and plays with no fear.  This guy has the makings of an ELITE receiver.  Him, along with Sammie Coates, give our QB’s some great options to throw to. 

 

I have written this as an addition to wde1988’s opinion.  It is perhaps a little more positive than him, but it’s what I think.  We are NOT a good team now.  We will NOT win 8 games this year.  We will more than likely win 6 or 7 and go to a lower end bowl, which is about what I expected.  Until we get a franchise QB and fix the LB position, we will NOT be a good team.  But……it is coming.  It’s going to take a couple of years, but if things continue on this pace, we’re going to be good.  Despite the fact that we lost to LSU, and were mostly completely outclassed, the team didn’t quit.  They spotted LSU 14 points in the first 5 minutes due to a couple of bigtime screwups, and never stopped playing.  Last year, that would have been a 50-0 blowout.  This year it was a 14 point loss, where at times it felt like Auburn was just on the verge of clawing back and making the #6 team in the country sweat.  This is a BIG step from last year.  As I wrote many times before we started the season, Gene Chizik left one hell of a mess, and it’s going to take time to clean it up.  But…..this team is in the right place mentally.  That is the first and most important step.  These kids believe they can win any game.  That is a credit to the coaching staff, and is perhaps the most important aspect to becoming a good football team. 

In one week we have Ole Miss.  They are better than us.  They are ranked.  They SHOULD beat us.  I haven’t mentioned them to this point because I wanted to save it for last.  They are a good team, but they are vulnerable.  This is a classic trap game for them, because the following week they have the Aggies at home.  On top of that, they aren’t THAT good.  They aren’t LSU, and against LSU, we were competitive.  Should we beat Ole Miss?  On paper, nope.  They are a better team.  But, we have 2 weeks to prepare.  We are at home.  They have a big game the following week.  We are confident.  We are improving every week.  As of now, I am putting Ole Miss on upset alert.  If they don’t show up ready to play, Auburn will beat them. 

We aren’t the doormat we were last year, boys.  You’d better be ready. 

23 Comments

  1. BigDaddyAU says:

    I respect your opinions Cap and I’ve always enjoyed your articles. And I agree with some of what have said. That being said I still feel that most fans are not lending enough weight to the fact that Nick Marshall has only been on campus a little more than 8, now 9 weeks. He didn’t have spring ball nor did he have all summer to get to know his WR’s nor the play book. Yes he misses throws, sails a few passes..that is to be expected. I imagine with the complexity of JUST the pre-snap things that he does that he is still “thinking” rather than “reacting” as the play unfolds. Obviously the coaches know he is our best option to win at the moment and I am content to watch him grow.

    Oh and btw..spot on about the Wildcat..that crap sucks…

    War Damn Eagle

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I have been bad this year about not engaging on comments, so here goes.

      That has been the excuse of the year for Nick Marshall…..:”he hasn’t been here that long!!” While there is some truth to that, and is a perfectly logical explanation for Coach Malzhan’s lack of trust in his QB and lack of REALLY opening the playbook, it’s not the primary problem. The simple fact is that Marshall is inconsistent as hell in his throws. How long he has been on campus has absolutely ZERO bearing on whether or not he can throw the damn ball where he wants to throw it, and right now, from what I’ve seen, he is WAY too inconsistent. He is missing WAY too many wide open receivers. It’s kind of a conundrum. During the LSU game he would make some throws that were so great they would make Peyton Manning smile and wink, and then on the very next down, he would sail the ball right over an open receiver’s head, wobbling like a wounded duck. A lot of people have tried using the weather as an excuse, but he’s been doing the same damn thing all month, weather or no weather. He’s brilliant, then he sucks. Then he’s brilliant again, then he sucks again.

      He’s way too darn inconsistent for my tastes. I’m just not convinced, not yet. I hope like hell he gets better, but he doesn’t seem to be.

      Time will tell.

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..As Chief sunshine-pumper here (not really…), I do like to read opposing viewpoints. The season has unfolded more or less as I envisioned it, but I didn’t expect the number of defensive injuries. I HAVE liked the adjustments Ellis Johnson has made. Van Gorder was either bull-headed last season, or he threw his hands in the air and punted.

    …..I’m going to be in the stands for the Ole Miss game, 24 rows behind the Ole Miss bench at the north 39 yard line, and I’m going to try to make coach Hugh Freeze’s team MISERABLE with my noise! I don’t think Ole Miss will beat us at home. They are a dangerous running team, but they’ve been inconsistent passing, even against the cupcakes. I think we’ve got a great chance, even moreso with a solid, loud home crowd.

    …..And hopefully I’ll be able to load up the camera with pix from a cinematic Auburn win!

  3. Orange Talon Orange Talon says:

    I feel your pain concerning Marshall, and I too am tired of hearing about how long he hasn’t been on campus or practicing. If he is so far behind the rep and/or learning curve, why is he playing? If he’s the best option, then what does that really say about the position? But, as inconsistent as he is, he is not the pressing problem with our team.

    That would be the defense, and in particular, the linebacker corps. No pressure, no gap discipline, and once the play gets to the second level, no chance. Auburn ranks 13th out of the 14 SEC teams in total defense, and I’m not sure that can be fixed.

    Ellis Johnson, Van Gorder, Saban, Muschamp, Belichek, they don’t make plays or tackle people, players do.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I agree with you about Marshall.

      You’re also spot on about the defense. But, just from a gut feeling standpoint, the defense is WAY better than last year simply because I don’t throw up in my mouth every time the other team throws the ball. The LB’s are the biggest glaring weakness we have, and until we are able to recruit and get some decent ones, we are not going to be any better.

      13 out of 14 can’t be fixed without some talent. Dead on.

  4. DBAU81 says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said, especially about the Wildcat with Frazier running it. Those are just wasted downs. Marshall has indeed been inconsistent, but I’ve seen enough good things from him to hope that he will improve – and he will have to for us to have any chance of success in some of the games we have coming up. You’re right about the LBs (bad) and the DBs (good). But I’m not sure about the love for Ricardo Louis and his “good hands” – I’ve watched every play of every game and seem to remember that he’s had more than his share of drops. The good thing is that he definitely has the potential to get better, unlike some receivers in recent years who just weren’t all that good to start with.

    You’re spot on about where we are overall – improving, but with a long way to go. I think the Ole Miss game will be pivotal for this season and is by far our best chance of pulling an upset. And I will say this for all the sunshine pumpers: at least we’ve improved enough for people to be optimistic again, even if some of them get carried away. That has to be a good sign, don’t you think?

    • CapnVegetto says:

      Yep, that is a good sign, plus it’s how I feel. Last year I was hopeless and disgusted. This year I see a lot of improvement and hope for the future. We’re going to be good again. It’s just a matter of time.

  5. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    I seem to remember another quarterback who started out his first four Auburn games completing only 58% of his passes for 1000+ yards. He went on to set single season records for us under Gus Malzahn – Chris Todd.

    Cam only threw for 760 yards his first four games. Nick has thrown for 829 and his completion percentage is just 1% less than Todd’s was to less gifted receivers than we had in 2009.

    The other QBs we’ve had in the last ten years? Not even close. Neither Kodi, Brandon, Barrett or Neil could touch Nick’s total or throwing percentage. I’m not saying he’s the best QB in the conference, but he’s better than most of the one’s we’ve had in the last decade or so.

    • DaZeD DaZeD says:

      Not going to parrot the 9 weeks on campus thing regarding Marshall…whats apparent though is what Malzahn’s been quoted as saying numerous times. Not having him in for spring training is a major setback. As you pointed out, Todd and Newton had this luxury and still didn’t surpass Marshall at this point of the season.
      I think we beat OM because we’re their sandwich game (UA-Us-TXAM), we have them at home. UGA looks beatable but I’ll hold off on that vote until we see what LSU does this weekend in Athens. UT and ARK should be wins for us, along with the pastry part of our schedule. TXAM and UA are losses unless something uncharacteristic happens. This is simply projections based on an assumed growth as the season goes. Injuries could offset this. This is also based on Ellis Johnson finally seeing that Frost should be a starter as well as Davis in the DL. The latter has already been speculated this week by EJ as a possibility.
      I haven’t seen a Malzahn team “go stale or get worse” in any season he’s been calling plays ‘cept for @ ARK. We know who got in the way there though. I don’t disagree with anyone elses projections, I just see things going in a positive direction and this team getting better as the season progresses.

      • CapnVegetto says:

        Ref DaZeD:

        Counting UT and Arky as automatic wins is foolish. We are NOT that good. Period. I’d say we’re about on their level or so. GA and Bammer look at least beatable to me, but A&M is going to murder us because our sorry ass linebackers are going to be made to look foolish by JFF.

        I’m simply saying that automatically counting wins against ANY SEC team with this group is foolhardy. We are not good enough to count ANYBODY as auto-wins.

        • DaZeD DaZeD says:

          “Should Be” doesn’t imply automatic. As I responded to WDE1988, anyone who makes such assumptions should simply read the sports columnist predictions and then simply spend that 3 hours we’re playing on Saturday doing “something else” because they’re already assured of the outcome. Based on what I’ve seen from ARK and UT…neither are remotely close to matching up with us. Rutgers made ARK look foolish this past weekend…UT hasn’t shown any ability to produce on offense. The caveat to UT (which is one I didn’t say this is a slam-dunk WIN) is they have a stout DL…just not very disciplined (see our DL). I like our offensive coaching and skill players better and based on that, I think we have the ability to leave there with the win. Not to be construed as “automatic” mind you. Thats best left for the Tuscaloosa trailer nation….
          One thing that wasn’t mentioned regarding our first loss this past weekend, LSU practiced in that same weather system TWO days prior to Auburn arriving. They were use to the “heavy dew” (Les is a real card) and poor conditions whereas our only exposure this season was to home-sweet-home JH Stadium in dry weather. Death Valley isn’t conducive to a seasoned QB in the best of weather conditions, much less what Marshall had to deal with out of the gate last Saturday night.
          If you think I’m disagreeing with you just to disagree then you’re mistaken. All we can do as observers is project what we perceive should happen, but ultimately, the game has to be played. Relative to who is right and who is wrong must wait for the outcome to be decided by the players. In the meantime, we can only opine.

          • wde1988 wde1988 says:

            Dazed, I am confused by the point you make: “neither are remotely close to matching up with us.”

            You point out the Rutgers game and say that they embarrassed ARK.

            Did you take in to account that ARK “traveled” to New Jersey? That does take a toll on a team.

            Say what you want about ARK. This is the same team that stayed with Texas A&M for almost 4 qtrs last week. It’s getting better and better every week. *grabbing for my necktie* doing my best Rodney Dangerfield… and should I remind you how we play when we go to Little Rock?Traditionally… not very well.

            And say what you want about UT… I like their coach. I didn’t know if I would. But after a few weeks to observe… he is a caliber competitior who found the cupboards in Knoxville more bare than AUs. He will turn that program around.

            Speaking for me I am very concerned about those games. But like you say… they have to be played. And played they will be.

            WDE

    • CapnVegetto says:

      You’re basing that on pure numbers, but it’s a fallacy. Most of Nick’s throws and completion percentage are coming on bubble screens, receiver screens, etc. that really skew the completion percentage to the positive. Marshall is just missing WAY too many throws he shouldn’t be missing, and making way too many mistakes. Like I said earlier, one down he makes an amazing throw that Peyton Manning would be proud of, the next down he sucks, then the next down he’s awesome again. He’s just way too inconsistent. I’m not ready to give up on him yet, though. I just don’t see why we can’t get one of these super-freshmen like everyone else gets. I guess we’re just not that lucky.

      • sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

        I’ve heard this type of criticism before – around 2003 on Jason Campbell’s performance in the first three games of that year – 56% for only 531 yards and two losses. People were quick to pull the trigger then and demand that someone else be found to take the reins of the team.

        Jason went 12 for 13 in the very next game and went on to win 20 of the next 23 games for us, including two wins over Alabama and a perfect 14-0 season when he passed for 69.6%. Those two years (2003, 2004) had the same backfield, most of the same coaching staff, and many of the same personnel as starters on offense and defense.

        What I see is improvement, both in on-the-field performance and morale, and increasingly astute adjustments to what the opposing teams are doing. That alone is a vast improvement over last year in which however bad we looked in the first quarter, it got even worse as the game progressed.

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

    I agree with you on the 6 wins….I’ve said from the beginning, that we will get 6 wins and like it.

    Capn, you *know* that your grandmother can tackle *better* than Jake Holland…come on now, be fair.

    As for NM, I don’t think he’s as bad as we think, but he’s certainly not as good as we want him to be. But at least he’s not Jake Holland back there….it could be worse. Plus, it drives me nuts when he throws perfectly good* passes to our WRs for them to just drop it, or have it then drop it, or just stare at it on the ground like it’s a radioactive ball of fire. IMO, BOTH positions need to man up and improve.

    As far as the Wildcat, I think that I read somewhere that running the WC gives NM and CGM some quality time on the sideline without having to take a time out…..since running that play belies most logical sense, I like that train of thought.

    *’cause he can throw some good passes; without them we would have lost to the bullies.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      OK…maybe my grandfather. How about that? Jake Holland sucks. End of story.

      I hope Marshall gets better, I’m just tired of the last few years, (ex. Cam) of glaring mediocrity/weakness at the QB position. We’ve picked up a few 4/5 star recruits, and NONE have panned out. Kiehl Frazier was supposed to be great, remember? So was Barrett Trotter. So was Neil Caudle. Now we’ve got our latest hope, JJ. Marshall, in the meantime, is a stopgap. I hope he gets better, and I still believe he will. But….I believed in Frazier a lot, and I still maintain that it was his horrendous misuse by Chizik that cost him at least being decent.

      Wildcat schmildcat. Is ‘quality time’ worth a completely wasted down? Really? The plays NEVER go anywhere. If you want some damn quality time, stick Wallace in there for a couple of downs. Don’t run a stupid ass wildcat play that is guaranteed to go nowhere.

      • DaZeD DaZeD says:

        This…and your Jake Holland observation…you are “Spot On”. Four of LSU’s biggest plays from scrimmage went through his zone of defense (run and drop-back coverage). Why EJ defends him and leaves the middle of the our defense exposed is beyond my understanding. Guess its why I’m not the coach. Note to Lashlee: Frazier still has time to develop as a slot receiver or TE….
        Any live play afforded him in the Wildcat is burning AU’s daylight.

        • sparkey sparkey says:

          There is something bigger going on than what we realize behind closed doors. In my mind, Jake should’ve lost the starting job period when he wasn’t there for several of the freaking practices during Spring Training. I don’t care when the damn class was that should at least cost you one start. The production from Jake Holland or lack there of should cost him the other two starts. Yet, he’s started every game and he’s played more than any other linebacker of the group. In addition, when we have both Frost and McKinzy on the field, Auburn’s defense looks worlds better. I will never ever understand the fact we leave in Jake Holland. It makes me dumbfounded and sick.

      • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

        Actually, I was saying don’t belittle your grandmother….

  7. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    I’ve actually been very relieved at how well NM has played. After what we witnessed over the previous two seasons I was assuming he would suck ala Frazier. He has been much more Chris Todd IMO, and thats good enough for now. Hopefully he will improve enough for us to get 8 wins this season (that’s including a bowl win), and the three years after that we will have a well prepared JJ. Sure NM has seriously over thrown 4-8 balls this season, but the receivers have dropped at least as many. But all this gives me hope, for if AU has done this well while definitely not playing to it’s potential, how much better will they be when they finally do figure it out? I hope this off week was well used, and our team comes out sharper than ever! War Eagle!

    Wherever Capn and wde1988 go with the cloud, I will follow with the sun!

  8. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    And…. thanks for the plug!!

    WDE