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A Win is a Win is a Win…..

By on November 5th, 2013 in Member Post 15 Comments »

I don’t get myself sometimes.  For most things in my life, I am generally a positive person.  I don’t understand why, at least this year, I only seem to see the negatives in Auburn football.  This week is no exception.  I watched the game in an empty house, and I’m quite glad that was the case, otherwise my 4 year old might have learned some colorful new language.  I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed after a double digit win in my life. 

What was it?  Do I think we are better than we played?  Do I hate the Hogs that much?  Do I hate Bret Bielima that much?  Am I still feeling the aftereffects of last year?  I don’t know.  Perhaps there is some residual hatred remaining in my psyche from when I was living in Arkansas, and I was hoping that we would stomp all over the Hogs like doormats.  Perhaps I wanted to see Bret Bielima pay the ultimate price for all his pathetic whining and griping about the HUNH offense, which didn’t happen.  Or perhaps it was just plain old disappointment stemming from the fact that I KNOW this is a much better football team that what showed up Saturday.  I honestly am at a loss. 

What I saw Saturday was a very Vanilla performance.  I watched every minute of the game, and for the most part, we did not beat Arkansas at all.  They beat themselves.  Our defense came up with a couple of big stops when they were needed, from the goal line stand to stopping them in the red zone with turnovers, to shutting them down on 4th down, but that does not excuse the piss poor play the other 90% of the time.  Most of the game, I felt like I was watching last year’s team.  I kept scanning the sidelines expecting to see Brian VanGorder pacing around, stroking his 1970’s porn star moustache, getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to call wimpy, soft coverage and give up pass plays every time the other team needed one. 

What the hell happened?  All year I have been so high on the defense, particularly the secondary.  They have looked light years better than they did at any time last year.  Playing physical, tackling like Ray Lewis, bumping hard on tight coverage, batting down passes, reading the QB and jumping routes, the list goes on and on.  This game they just flat out sucked.  Same thing with the LB’s.  While they definitely haven’t been the best group this year, they are considerably better than last year.  Saturday the middle was wide open over and over again, they were losing contain constantly, and the zone was essentially worthless.  Every time Arky dropped back to pass, I visibly cringed and expected the worst.  Most of the time, the worst happened.  Thank God Brandon Allen sucks and missed tons of throws, and thank God their receivers had some key drops.  The game would have gone very differently had Arky executed at all. 

As it stands, they did not.  They turned it over twice in the red zone, they failed to punch it in from the 2 yard line, and dropped quite a few passes that should have been caught and kept drives alive.  What I saw Saturday was a horrendous defensive regression, comparable to last year.  The difference in the game was the turnovers and Arkansas’s poor execution.

How was the offense?  Adequate is the best word I can come up with.  The game plan was extremely Vanilla.  We threw the ball 10 times, completing 9.  The only incompletion was yet another drop by Sammie Coates.  It amazes me how Marshall can hit him dead in the face perfectly and he drops it, and then a few plays later Marshall underthrows him on a deep ball and he makes a play that Jerry Rice would have been proud of.  Despite that, Marshall looked more consistent throwing the ball then I have seen him all year, albeit it was only on 10 throws.  His only screwup was the fumble that he was lucky enough to recover by himself. 

Tre Mason was a hero.  I can’t believe how much better he looks this year than last.  I also can’t believe that despite how good he is, he seems to be getting little to no national attention.  Some NFL team is going to probably draft him low, and get a STEAL.  Mark my words:  Tre Mason WILL play at the next level, and he will be good.

Saturday night he was nothing short of amazing.  He ran for 4 TD’s, (eat your heart out Al Bundy), and was pretty much Auburn’s entire offense.  The OL, while not being as dominating as they have been recently, did a good job opening holes, and Mason is reading gaps and being patient like an NFL veteran.  You can just see his maturity in the replays.  He is patient and cerebral with his running, and quite simply brutal once he decides to mix it up.  Tre Mason won the game Saturday night.  Every RB in FBS should take a look at his performance and try to emulate it. 

I can gather that Gus figured he didn’t need much to beat Arky, and he was right.  We didn’t run but 6 or 7 plays the whole first half, and Arky could not stop any of it.  The only time we failed to score is when we stopped ourselves with dumb penalties or the inevitable momentary lapse in playcalling that seems to happen every game with Gus.  Then, in the end, Gus got conservative and stopped trying to get first downs.  He kept giving Arkansas the ball back, despite how poorly the defense was playing and how much they had been on the field.  That was a HUGE mistake.  Thankfully, the Arkansas offensive miscues bailed him out, but I was furious watching our 4th quarter offense.  I didn’t care about the failure to score, but I was blazing mad at Gus seeming to be perfectly happy giving up, running predictable plays up the middle, and coming up with nothing but 3 and outs when Arkansas clearly had the momentum.  Against a better team, that would have been pure death.  But once again, Arkansas’s sucking bailed out poor strategy. 

I’ve read some people on here saying that Gus was Vanilla on purpose.  I read some people saying that it is impossible to keep a team playing at a high level every game of the year.  Balderdash and poppycock.  Nick Saban does it every year with the turds.  They don’t have games like this.  They play fundamentally sound football 13 games a year every year.  They never forget how to tackle.  They never blow gap discipline.  No matter how good or bad their opponent is, they are always ready to play.  This week, for the first time all year, Auburn did not look ready to play.  That, perhaps, was the most disappointing aspect of the night for me.

Next week, we have Tennessee.  They are bad as well, and we should beat them no problem.  But, I honestly believe if we play like we did against Arkansas, it will be a big fat ‘L’.  In 2 weeks we have Georgia.  Georgia is starting to get healthy again, and should be much better when they play us then they have been for a solid month.  Quite simply, we had better get it together and fast. 

Last year we were 3-9.  The turnaround this year has been nothing short of incredible.  One bad game does not make a bad year.  All I am saying is what I saw Saturday scares me.  Were we nothing more than a flash in the pan?  I’d like to believe not, and I don’t think one bad game can be served up as an example of us having a lucky year.  We have beaten too many good teams to be a flash in the pan.  But right now, Auburn controls its own destiny.  We win out, we win the West.  Nobody is giving us a chance in hell against the Updykes, and I can’t say that I blame them.  Honestly, I hope it continues right up until the game itself.  I’d love nothing more than to stomp all over the turds’ perfect season and drop a big steamer on their BCSNC hopes.

But what I saw Saturday scared the hell out of me defensively.   We play defense like that, there is no way in hell we ever beat Georgia.  Aaron Murray will NOT miss the throws that Brandon Allen did.  Neither will AJ McCarron.  We play like that we lose to anybody worth a damn.  Why is that so unacceptable to me?  Because I KNOW WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.  I’ve seen it.  All damn year.  When I see a regression like that I am disgusted.  It’s like watching your kid, who you know is a genius, get F’s in school and smoke pot.  You KNOW he/she is capable of so much more, and makes you sick to see them being an epic failure because you KNOW they shouldn’t be. 

I don’t want to hear damn excuses.  I want to see sound football, execution, and physicality.  Every time I donate money to the university, I am responsible for an amount, however miniscule, of the seven figure salary paid to the head coach.  I am in no way saying that he hasn’t earned it this year.  He’s earned it ten thousand times over with this turnaround.  If he’s not SEC coach of the year, something is severely wrong.  But a failure of the magnitude I saw on Saturday is unacceptable, and something I have every right in the world to bitch about. 

I expect things to be better this week.  I expect a win in Knoxville.  Despite Saturday, one bad performance does not a year make.  I am still on board and still happy with Gus.  Even if we lose the next 4 games this year, he’s still done way more than I even dreamed.  I’m proud of the team and proud of the staff.  I can’t wait to see where we are in 2 or 3 years.  The future looks nothing but bright for Auburn football!  Even though I tend to see bad things a lot easier than good ones, I still believe.  I know it’s hard for some of you to buy, but it’s the truth.  I have seen what this team is capable of, though, and I KNOW we can win the SEC this year.  That is why I’m so critical…….it’s BECAUSE Gus has done such a great job.  He’s made me a believer, and a bad performance against a bad team is something that makes me upset. 

Gus, you’ve done an amazing job this year.  We are all happy.  Every fan should be happy no matter what, even if we lose out.  But……we don’t have to.  I guess all I’m saying to Gus is this:

Don’t get conservative.  Don’t run it up the damn middle.  GO FOR IT!!  We’ve come this far, we might as well finish the job.   This team can do it.  If the King of Negative Nancies on Trackemtigers believes it, anyone should!!


  1. DaZeD DaZeD says:

    I can’t begin to say what Malzahn’s process was Saturday night, other than the obvious: Tre Mason left, right, up the middle.

    I do believe he wanted to make Bielemma “insignifcant” by not taking the bait. He side-stepped every jab that BB attempted (since mid-summer). CGM took the high-road and I respect him for it. I would’ve “pay-back” bitch-slapped ARKY at every opening, but CGM, by an act of self-control, relegated BB’s arguments/insinuations into meaningless drivel (doing so on their own field of play).

    Why we were so vanilla is beyond my paygrade but I’d like to think Gus knows the games that he can cruise through and which ones he needs to prepare for (off camera). This Saturday, I look for pretty much the same as we saw last week. With another “W” behind us, I hope Gus takes down the tarp in Jordan-Hare the following Saturday and unveils something UGA never saw coming. This will have Saban and Kirby circling their wagons spending valuable time trying to stop it, and then (with 2 weeks to prepare) unleash something else on the Tahd they never imagined. I know, it reads like a fantasy, but the past 11 weeks have defied anything any of us could have foreseen back in August. I couldn’t have even imagined we’d be where we are now. Having said that, I think I’m content to ride shotgun on the Gus Bus and leave the driving to him, and hopefully continuing to do the unimaginable. War Eagle!

    You look thirsty…why not take a hit off this pitcher of orange and blue Kool-Aid…!!

  2. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    I totally agree with you. Capn, think about this. Is it all part of a master plan? I have been holding off saying this actually not believing that Gus is not really that smart and we are really not that good. I am starting to believe that he is that smart and we are that good and we are toying with some folks. Why else would we play Arky so vanilla. We did not need to do anything else. Why did we use many more plays and sets against TAMU, because we needed to. I expect more vanilla for Tn because we won’t need to do much more to get a W. I expect to see neopolitan against the leg humpers and a Baskin Robbins store against UAT. If in reality he is really that smart and we are really that good running the table is definitely on the table.

    Maybe the Mad Scientist is really THE MAD SCIENTIST.

  3. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Looking back on it I actually am encouraged that AU could beat an SEC oppenent with the minimum of offensive variation, if it aint broke don’t fix it! Another bennefit is that now Nick Marshall’s arm will be much fresher going forward due to the few pass plays. UT won’t be very difficualt IMO since they have a third string true freshman starting at QB. As far as the UGA game, I think we will see an explosion of offense due in no small part to UGA’s crappy D and more varied playcalling, the D-line should be amped up as well knowing that this will be their last crack at Aaron Murray. Bama will be difficult no doubt, but until we see how their game against LSU goes it’s hard to gage where they are really at.

    Every team has bad days, even Saban’s (see LSU 2011/12, USC 2010, Utah 2008, ULM 2007). Thankfully AU’s bad day “only” resulted in an 18 point win. I’ll take that any day! War Eagle!

  4. aubfan_in_woodstock aubfan_in_woodstock says:

    I have to believe that we are doing what we need to do to win. Not blow someone out. If all we have to do is run left, right, up the middle, then that is all that is going to happen.

    I am sure that we will start out like that against Tennessee, Georgia, and maybe Alabama (although I expect the who playbook to be in play for that game).

    I am sure if the running game hadn’t worked against Arky, then we would have seen more passing plays brought into the game.

    I am fairly certain that Gus doesn’t want to show all of his cards. If Tennessee wants to look at that game film and take something from it, they need to defend against the 6-7 plays we ran repeatedly. If they can stop that, than I am sure Gus will add 6-7 more plays to the rotation until the offense starts to produce.

    Now, as for the lack of tackling on the defense, I did think that was a bit of a setback. I thought the slants were more of a result of them picking our defenders and not getting caught often enough, lol.

  5. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    I remember a saying from one of the old coaches. It may have been Knute Rockne or Ara Parsegian or Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.. One of them said something like, “If I could get first downs running nothing but halfback off tackle, I’d do it the whole game until the other team stopped me.”

    That is the essence of old timey football. Bret Bielema characterized his style of play accordingly. And Gus outplayed Bret at his own game. Nothing fancy. No surprises. The same plays over and over. See this, try to stop it. We’ll run it again.

    You know, when a coach is down at the goal line and they keep trying to pound it in rather than take the easy three points, they are trying to send a message to the other team. Dan Mullen falls prey to this kind of thick-headedness. It’s great if it works. But it also sends a terrible message to your own team if it doesn’t work.

    I understand some of the frustration a segment of Auburn fans experienced during the Arkansas game. Auburn is disappointing some folks because they are not dominating the opposition. But the defense, while giving up yards between the twenties, is not giving the other team too many scoring opportunities. Think back to 2009 and 2010. Very similar in effect, although the method is different.

    Rather than get frustrated by our defense yielding a bit in the middle of the field, take joy in our defense dominating in the red zone. It’s freaking awesome. Next to watching our guys score touchdowns, I love seeing the defense stuff a run at the one yard line. BOOM.

    As for the offense. Well, the kids are giving it all they got. We, the fans sitting at home watching, are getting honest effort from these kids. They don’t quit. You gotta love that and respect their drive.The team has strengths and weaknesses. Gus is doing a masterful job of maximizing our strengths while minimizing our weaknesses. This is adaptability. Something our previous offensive genius lacked.

    We are winning. How bad can it be. Is it perfect? Well, if you are moaning and groaning and expeccting perfection, you will never be happy. We are winning. If you thought we would likely go 10-2 or better this season after last season, I need some lottery numbers asap.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..There’s no doubt that Auburn took a big step backwards on defense. We saw a pretty tight offensive line, they installed a lot of pre-snap shifts we weren’t ready for, and the D got exposed. The bad part of it is that while Arkansas has a pretty decent line, Tennessee’s and Georgia’s are better, and Bama’s is probably as good as Auburn’s.

    …..Meanwhile, if you run Tre Mason through the B gap over and over, and he keeps getting five yards or more, keep pounding it. Scot Loeffler never learned that, last year. If Mason broke a good run, Loffee would take him out, and probably the guy that lead-blocked the play, too.

    …..Is it me, or did the shoulder injury to Marshall actually seem to help his accuracy? He definitely wasn’t throwing those hot balls that receivers can’t handle.

    • War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

      Haha! It’s like Marshall is that alien that you fire phasers at, but then just absorbs the engery and becomes even more dangerous.

  7. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    I was hot during the game too and was upset with the play of the defense but after a couple of days to cool off, I have to come to grips with the fact that the defense is very young at key areas and they are going to suffer setbacks when the opposing team has time to gameplan against them. Yes, the Turds don’t have this problem but they also have the greatest coach in college history and they rake the best talent possible into their program every year. My hope is we can get to that level, but it takes time….even for Saban.
    The key takeaway is that they get better and less confused when the field gets shorter. Nobody wins or loses based on how many yards you have, its the points that matter. We stiffen in the Red Zone and limit points. The leg humpers conversely do the opposite. They have been put in bad position by to’s and poor special teams play but instead of bailing the team out, their D gives up the points. I’d rather have our defense.

    The offense WAS Vanilla. I can appreciate running the ball up the middle time and again if its working, but there were times when we needed to convert 1st downs and we didn’t attempt to throw a wrinkle into the offense to keep the Arky D honest. Instead we ran into 4th downs and had to punt. While I don’t mind playing field position football, that normally works best when you have a defensive slobberknocker going on. Such was not the case on Saturday. In my view we missed a big opportunity to end that game in the 1st half and as a result Arky got the big kick return to wipeout our momentum from the previous Knockdown delivered by Marshall and Coates, and it was a game again until midway through the 4th qtr.

    The good news is we won another SEC road game AND our boys saw that just because they beat TAMU on their field, it doesn’t mean we slack off on preparation and execution. I am choosing to see this as a learning opportunity and hopefully the boys payed attention in class.

  8. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Here’s the thing, Gus is a different head coach than he is a coordinator. It’s that simple. He has greater responsibilities and repercussions for mistakes now. In 2010, we saw most of his playbook because Gene needed it. A good coach will do whatever it takes to win and ONLY whatever it takes to win. In 2010, Gus needed to turn deep into his playbook to get wins. At this point, he doesn’t need to reveal his cards after other coaches fold.

    Gus is a smart man and wants to be around college football for a long time and revealing all of his intellect through his playbook so that fans can talk smack at the water cooler on Monday is short sided and will just give opponents more time and video to dissect his schemes which would limit his longevity in the sport. I admire Gus’ approach to the game. Want some sprinkles on your vanilla? Just wait because more will have to be done to get through the next 3 games.

    And at this point to compare us to the bama machine is premature, I think. Are they good? Yes but let’s look at their season…their toughest game was TAM at College Station and they only won by a TD…that’s it. I think they’re suspect this year and until I see them against LSU, I ain’t buying into their bullying and greatness just yet. Oh and btw, who else beat TAM at College Station this year??? That’s right, Auburn…

    Defense is a crap shoot because they have a different game plan each week depending on the offense they’re facing. Cut them some slack, it’s a difficult job. Just accept the ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality. Plus we were banged up.

    Just relax and enjoy the wins…put on some Bob Marley and chill.

  9. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Personally, I love everything about this team. From the back office support to the real time game day decision making. They are disciplined, on and off the field. No off the field incidents and no stupid penalties. Win, lose, or draw, they fight like hell and they learn from their mistakes. This is the beginning of something potentially very, very special.

  10. auh20 auh20 says:

    Thankfully, I’m just an enlisted man. Captains and Colonels apparently can’t enjoy Auburn football unless it operates the way their unreal expectations dictate. NO ONE realistically expected 8-1 at this stage of the season but with the successes we’ve had, the expectations have escalated. Chill brothers. We’ve exceeded all reasonable goals to this point and will do even more. Our coaches have to know what they’re doing to get us to this point. The glass is full. Some may be air and some, water. (Or beer or whatever is your beverage of choice)

    • War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

      “Thankfully, I’m just an enlisted man. Captains and Colonels . . . ” Were hitting British level word play here on TET. I like it!

    • DadeCityEagle says:

      Finally, reason and common sense!!! It seems like I remember early on in the season the auther of this article clearing stating there was no possible way we could win 8 games. And yet, the possibility is very real that we will exceed that mark. Last year was the worst season I can every remember and I have been a fan since the early Dye years. This turnaround is nothing short of a minor miracle. The discipline that must be being instilled in this team behind the scenes must be a true marvel to witness. That’s what we take for granted. What this staff is accomplishing when the cameras aren’t rolling. Regardless of what the next three games bring, it’s GREAT to be an Auburn Tiger!!!!

  11. SandMountainTiger SandMountainTiger says:

    I wonder if it didn’t have something with CGM just not wanting to embarrass his home folks. No need to poor on the toppings when vanilla is enough.