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Auburn Football Has Meaning Again

By on November 9th, 2015 in Football 26 Comments »

Photo by Julie Bennett/al.com

Silly us. Why did we ever doubt Gus Malzahn would turn it around? Many thought the next Amen Corner they’d see would be in early April at Augusta. A funny thing happened in College Station Saturday night – a football team finally came into season. Break out your Auburn gear, we’ve got unfinished business to do.

Given his choice, Malzahn certainly would have scripted the year differently, but his comeback story sure makes for an exciting Thanksgiving season. This given-up-for-dead Auburn squad is now a pick’em against Georgia among odds-makers. Who would have placed money on that three weeks ago?

What about the storylines? Where do you start? Will it be Jeremy Johnson or Sean White? While his numbers were only average, the Auburn offense never clicked better than when Johnson was behind center.

Some of the nagging red zone issues remain, but the entire offense rallied around the comeback kid. It was easy to see why. Following the game, Johnson said he was playing for Sean (White). Is that a leader or what? Ready to go or not, it’s going to be mighty difficult for White to grab the reins back from Johnson this Saturday.

Speaking of comebacks, how about the return of Rhett Lashlee? The Auburn offensive coordinator has been crucified on message boards over the past week, even sparking rumors that Malzahn was considering a change at year’s end.

Following the win, Malzahn was quick to give credit to Lashlee while speaking to reporters. Taking it a step further, he asked his right-hand man to lead the team in the fight song in the locker room. The feel-good stories just kept coming. For a minute I thought my wife had turned on the Hallmark Channel.

Now Auburn turns its attention to a Georgia program that’s nearly mirrored Auburn’s arc this season. For both Malzahn and Mark Richt, the stakes couldn’t be much higher in November. A Georgia loss might mean the door for its embattled coach.

For Malzahn, a victory takes Auburn into the Iron Bowl on a (likely) three-game winning streak and soaring confidence. Suddenly the unwinnable game becomes dare I say… Possible?

With Will Muschamp getting his mojo on defense, this team is suddenly one of the most dangerous in the country. Turning the dial Saturday, it was hard to find a team playing better ball than Auburn. Did I really just that sentence?

The national media will all but crown Alabama the SEC Champion this week. They would be wise to think twice. One game doesn’t make a season, but the progress of this Auburn team should be scary to those who work in Athens and Tuscaloosa.

Most importantly, we learned that Malzahn is not the reincarnation of Gene Chizik. That scar runs deep. The relief of knowing this guy has a future on the Plains is as good as any victory.

Auburn fans have something to get excited about again. There’s never been a season with wins over Georgia and Alabama that was labeled a bad one. Grab victory in these next three games, and there’ll be nothing but fond memories of 2015.

I believe again.

You?

26 Comments

  1. DBAU81 says:

    A lot of credit goes to Gus, the staff and the players for hanging together in the midst of a firestorm of criticism – some of it justified – and fighting to get better each week. We shouldn’t overreact to a win against a team that is obviously struggling as much or more than we are. Still, it was a conference road win in front of a huge crowd in a tough environment. After some close calls and frustrating losses, it was nice to see the effort finally pay off with a W.

    The key now is to continue to build on this momentum. Mediocre Georgia teams seem to have a way of rising to the occasion against us, especially in Jordan-Hare. We can’t afford to let that happen again. And if the rumors are true and Mark Richt is finally on his way out the door, we need to send him off with a little payback for all the misery he’s dealt us over the years.

  2. uglyjoe says:

    While there are many storylines, the basic story never changes. Auburn is a lot bigger than wins and losses. We get lost in the periodic highs and lows. We should never stop believing……if its important enough to fret about daily on a message board, then its important enough to always remember the big picture.

  3. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Yes, ugly. The big picture was way out of focus for weeks. We could have won more games, but we seem to have put those losses behind us and we now look to the present and the future. UGa has been a thorn in our sides for years. Our programs were once mutually admired by both universities. Hayley, Dooley, Shug, Dye are way gone now.

    We have memories of “Solja Boy” and UGa dancing and taunting. There have been poor manners on both sides of this rivalry. My experience attending Sanford stadium in athens has been good. UGa fans seem to mis-behave more at JHS than at their own stadium.

    Our big picture is focused now. The UGa game is our chance to play our way out of the Birmingham Bowl and play our way into the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL. Here’s to beating the dogs!!

  4. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Great post, Jay! While I want to believe so badly, and it was so great to have a win that felt good this past weekend, I’m having a hard time fully believing that this up-and-down Auburn team can maintain its consistency. Lordy, I do hope….

  5. Tiger57 says:

    I’m very pleased with our Tigers both on offense and defense. Jeremy showed a little glimpse of what we all thought he might bring to the team. Overall effort deserves an A But I too am somewhat cautious. A&M is having some strange meltdown on their team. Weird, with all of their talent on both sides. And we won on their field. That is optimistic. Feel like we can pull out a win against UGA Yes, we definitely owe them. It’s payback time. Sorry, Coach Richy. Alabama is another story. That may be hard to pull off. Enjoyed your article Jay. Always great work. WDE

  6. Its crazy but this team is a stones throw (or some red zone TD success) from being 8-1 right now. That’s nuts.

  7. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Yeah, it is nuts. It is like cooking home made chili. It simply takes time and heat for the ingredients to meld and mesh and become tasty. Eat it too early and it is awful. Wait a few hours and it is delicious. The only thing I would add to the recipe is more hot sauce, making it HOT and NASTY!

  8. justinsch03 says:

    I will be the first to admit that I think Gus undercoached the season thus far and boy did I have my foot in my mouth on Saturday. What a game, and what a win! Now I feel that we can win out. Bama has always been overrated in my opinion and it will be great to silence the Bammers and end their season…if we can’t go to the playoffs, why let them?! War Eagle and let’s hope the team keeps up this amazing performance. Red Zone issues still plague us, but if they can tweak that we will be great and heading into an offseason and maybe truly rate a ranking next year with our players. QB will be another question next year…JJ is only a junior, Sean isn’t as mobile and young, and our new JUCO recruit seems to be the next dual threat we need in our offense.

  9. Orangeblood says:

    So… Now the road to the SEC CG runs through Jordan-Hare Stadium. (If LSU wins out) Bama will have a high ranking and lots to lose. Our boys should realize therein lies another historical opportunity.

  10. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The thing that worries me about Alabama is their front seven on defense. No one has run the ball on them, not even former Heisman candidate Leonard Fournette. Auburn’s run it up the middle on first and second down plan will fail miserably. Likewise, Bama isn’t as vulnerable to the jet sweep as Texas A&M was. Unfortunately, their linebackers have the speed to run with anyone on Auburn’s roster.

    …..I’ve been whining for weeks that motioning a receiver on orbit motion is useless, unless that player is a threat to actually get the ball. This week, they got the ball, and did damage. RIcardo Louis had 43 yards, Jason Smith took one of those sweeps for 24, and Kerryon Johnson had 3 carries for 19 yards out of the wildcat. That’s 86 rushing yards that the main running backs weren’t even a part of. Add in 29 more on the “crouching Tiger,” Woody-play, and we’re talking 115 yards. The Aggies were forced to defend the perimeter, which opened up more room for Robinson and Barber inside.

    • So, the game against Bama will NOT be the break out game to see that running play with 3 WR (not lined up in blocking positions) to work?? Gah!

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        ……I keep watching Leonard Fournette stood up at the line, and breaking away to the sideline. Guy’s got world-class speed. He was run down and unceremoniously dumped for a loss by a Tide linebacker.

  11. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Acid: you have given hope for Auburn to press the edges. The LBs for UGa are NOT faster than Our #5, #4, #21.

    The IB is not this week.

    This is burn the bulldog week.

  12. WarEagleEngr says:

    Your wife watches the Hallmark Channel too? Ugh…

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      Well, the above comment should have been below yours but…

      • WarEagleEngr says:

        I have to actively guard the remote, this time of year.

        • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

          ……With my wife, it’s the Home and Garden channel, or the reality stuff. Survivor, Bachelorettes, Amazing Race, etc. I think the only shows we watch together are Z-Nation, and occasionally Nashville.

          …..I do have my own cable box and TV at my computer desk, though. We have one of those big archways between the living room and dining room. And the dining room has the table, chairs and dining cabinet on one side, and my cubicle on the other. So my wife and I can talk from 8 feet apart, while my wife is watching the living room TV, and I’ve got football running on mine.

  13. AUNation AUNation says:

    AU is hitting their stride at just the right time and have improved in every game since LSU. UGA I feel good about. I think we can stack the box and dare them to throw it on us. Our D has been opportunistic enough this year to make their young QB pay. Honestly I saw the LSU beatdown coming. LSU has had their share of struggles and LF (who I do think is better than D. Henry) has had to do a lot of his running all on his own without great blocking. He could do this against lower competition (i. e. us at the beginning of the year)… not against UA’s front who had apparently made it their goal to sell out on him every play. After his fullback went out it was all she wrote (not that she wrote much before that). UA matches up perfectly against power teams, it’s teams that dazzle them a little and make them pay attention to a lot that they normally struggle with (See Ole Miss, Ohio ST., TAMU, and AU). Gus knows he won’t be able to run right at Bama until the misdirection starts to factor in and we have two QBs that are both able to stretch the field and must be respected. Ole Miss put up 43 on them in their house without a running game… they are beatable. I think we have a fighting chance scoring some points on them, it’s stopping them at all I am worried about. If they line up in an I-formation and just pound it right at us I don’t think we stop them on more than a couple of drives tops. As Acid pointed out, Jaylon Walton, the smallest running back in the SEC, put our best LB on his back… I bet D. Henry loved that sight. Only hope would be if for whatever reason Kiffy tries to get cute and unnecessarily drops back with Coker, who has a bad problem with trying to spin away from rushers and losing an additional 37 yards before being sacked anyway. We are much more balanced than UA but with a running game as good as theirs they don’t really need to balance anything. Also a factor is that this is also a UA team prone to penalties, so if we can get some help from them and keep them behind the sticks on a couple of drives who knows. What an incredible end to a rollercoaster season if we were able to pull out an IB win. Talking about POSSIBLY ending the season with 4 straight wins would have gotten you laughed off this site by all the Debbie Downers three weeks ago. Hope is indeed alive.

  14. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Hmmm? Now that is a big swing Jay. From one extreme to the other.

    Personally speaking we are 2-4 in SEC race that most said we would likely win the conference and represent in the playoff. A bit short sighted for me to get all warm and fuzzy over just one win. Isn’t it?

    If going to legion field for a Christmas day bowl gets you wet and bothered you might want to stock up for next year too. Maybe we can get a deal and buy in bulk? The reason I say that is because it’s likely if these issues don’t get fixed we will do this again next year. Call me practical, but I would rather focus on recruiting than a bowl game that means nothing. Let’s get kids moving and healing.

    This is still the same team with the same shortfalls. Only one that now stacks up to an UGA team that has virtually owned us for sometime. We are now trailing in the series last I remembered.

    Auburn beating a lost and unmotivated A&M team doesn’t mean the next three games are suddenly competitive just because of the out come of one game?

    This Georgia team is very motivated at the moment. They want to keep their head coach. An Auburn team sauntering into Jordan Hare stadium expecting UGA just to lie down is likely to be carried off laid out on a stretcher. This will be a fight! As well it should be.

    With our inability to score at will I question the outcome of this game. UGA plays best when it is against auburn. For some reason we dont play our best. But do i believe? Yes I do. Sure I do. But in work, hard work. Because that is what it will take in the deep South’s oldest rivalry. Auburn better come to win. UGA will use this to vindicate their season. Why shouldn’t auburn?

    If you need justification look no further than the difference in A&M’s defense and UGA’s. Big difference. Thinking we are going to have a 300 yds game on the ground with no issues is nuts. We will have to be balanced. That doesn’t happen with Jeremy. At least I don’t think it will. But all that is opinion.

    You want to hear good news it’s probably best you always hear it from the self-righteous person who believes their idea is always right because it will probably be what you want to hear. My thoughts is that makes either one or both of you irrelevant. But for those that are grounded in reality sometimes you got to face the ugly truth. In a way it’s like putting lipstick on a pig… it’s still a pig when it’s all said and done. Call me a pessimist but I don’t think auburn is going to fool anyone with trick plays and gimmicks. The best thing we can do is dominate the line of scrimmage, open up run lanes and protect the quarterback. Then do the exact opposite thing on defense to the opposing team. Still dominate the line of scrimmage only shut down run lanes and get pressure on the quarterback.

    Great article.

    WDE

  15. I say that we keep our eyes on the prize. This week the prize is Georgia. Bulldawgs limping out of Jordan Hare or bust!!

    War Eagle!

    PS-I hate Georgia!

    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      Amen to that.

      I hate to say this because it sounds terrible – but – up until 2007 I loved the UGA game. It was my favorite rivalry. Then something happened. I am sure it was me but the UGA fans seemed to enjoy beating us. Maybe that was when auburn loss control of the game… i don’t know.

      Then in 2010 I was at the game. It got ugly. Not as bad as the iron bowl… just mean spirited. Ever since it’s never gone back to the way it was.

      I don’t mind being humbled if it brought back the comradeship. But it takes two to tango.

      Until such time… beat hell out of them.
      WDE

  16. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Hose the bulldog!

  17. This is will be a good game for Carl to let loose and get some sacks. I’m looking forward to this one.

  18. Orangeblood says:

    Ok….So the Tide whipped LSU.
    But I saw Miles refusing to make adjustments. Or was it C. Cameron. Did they even try to widen the tides defense? The box was loaded all night. And the lemon heads ran power I formations continuously.
    Also the game was close until the 3 quarter.

    Lets review, Tenn was in it it til the 3rd. Bama had to show some moxie, drive the ball and score to win it. And Arky took then into the 3rd. Ole Miss cashed in turnovers.

    I think we will win over Ga.

    And will be in the game till the 3rd in the Iron bowl. If the tide gives us some turnovers, and our tacklers stay low on Henry we could be close by the 4 qtr.

    Our passing game simply must improve. Gotta throw it deep 4-5 times a game.

    The SECCG west division participant will likely be determined by the play of Auburn Tigers.

  19. Only one has mentioned Malzahn’s continuing penchant for field goals instead of touchdowns when facing fourth and ____. This past week was a bit more understandable since it was usually fourth and long. Didn’t hurt this time but we need more touchdowns. Thank God for Carlson and a powerful leg.
    That play reviewer for Saturday had to have been a TAM dude. There was no doubt it was targeting, and our freshman DB was lost to a severe injury. Wouldn’t have happened if not for targeting. I sit on pins and needles like you over UGA and UA. I still spell Auburn with a capital A.

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