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Don’t Be Fooled—This Game Mattered

By on September 3rd, 2018 in Football, News 15 Comments »

Coaches from both sidelines made it clear that Saturday’s result wouldn’t define a season. That message was lost on the 70,000 in attendance for Auburn’s 21–16 win over Washington. When Auburn made the final stop on Jake Browning and the Washington Huskies deep in the fourth quarter, the noise level inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium was in late-season form.

This game mattered.

It mattered for a Washington team that has now lost to Alabama, Penn St. and Auburn on the biggest of stages. It means another season of the Pac-12 being questioned about its strength and worthiness. For Auburn, it erases a strange streak of season opening blunders against ranked opponents dating back to 1957.

What Saturday doesn’t answer is where this Auburn team is heading. Like the old saying goes, nothing is more irrelevant than the first quarter score. The pages in this book have hardly been turned, but if you wear orange and blue tinted lens in your sunglasses, there’s a lot to smile about going forward.

We learned that Jarrett Stidham can put this team on his back while the offensive line grows up. Their youthfulness showed up at too many inopportune times, but thinking back to Clemson a year ago, these new guys are a lot better at this point than last year’s group. Think about that for a second.

When is the last time you saw a redshirt freshman show the determination of JaTarvious Whitlow facing a third and seven from the Washington 10-yard line with the game on the line? “I had to go on and just run with everything I had in me,” said Whitlow. “I couldn’t go down. I had to get to the end zone.”

The combination of Kam Martin and Whitlow should be just fine.

Is it time to go ahead and put Kevin Steele up there with the best defensive coordinators ever to coach at Auburn? Saturday was no masterpiece; at times, it was downright ugly, but the talent and domination was on clear display.

The one visual takeaway from Saturday was the domination in the trenches. Washington quarterback Jake Browning was running for his life on most downs. He’ll see guys with names like Big Kat and Smoke chasing him in his dreams for days to come.

Unlike early last year, this Auburn team played with confidence. Having sat home and watched two teams it beat play for a national championship, this year’s group played with a chip on its shoulder. The stage wasn’t too big.

There’s a lot to clean up this week. There always is following a week-one game. If you are Auburn, you have to like where you sit today. Imagine this team with an improved offensive line. That’s what we should get in the coming weeks.

Like a good book, chapter one has us hooked. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

15 Comments

  1. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Great read, Jay, and it is awesome to have you back on here. Always enjoy your Thanksgiving posts and can’t wait to read more as the season progresses!
    Yes, it wasn’t always pretty but our Tigers were resilient and made plays when it mattered the most. The stadium was one of the loudest I’ve heard; especially on the Huskies last drive.

  2. Projection:
    Both Martin and Whitlow get 1,000 yards this season.

  3. uglyjoe says:

    Great to read you in the Monday spot again Jay. Comparing our current situation to last year after Clemson has to make a smile, even with the ugly stuff. Next week tunes up for a better than I imagined LSU.

  4. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    Waking up on Monday to a Jay post is great! It was a real nail biter during the second half, for sure.
    I can’t say I totally agree with Acid’s giving our QB an A for the first game, but you’re on the money about the way he didn’t let down and led the team during our last TD drive. If he can cure the “hesitations,” I think the O-line will grow up pretty fast.
    One thing I’m looking for is how AU comes out and starts against Alabama State. Too many times in the past, I saw Tuberville and Dye teams let down against inferior opponents, especially after a big win like this one, and barely escape. Let’s come out smoking and play up to our talent this week!

    • ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

      Let’s please not have another Jacksonville State-type performance…

    • Tigerpharm says:

      Agree on all points WpEagle. Gus said he wants team to be aggressive this year. Hope that means no matter if it’s a Washington or a Ala. State. Never let up.

    • Tiger4Life says:

      I haven’t read Acids report YET, but I think the “hesitation” isn’t on Stidham… When he knows where he is going with the ball (i.e. 8 yard slant to Nate Craig, or back shoulder throw to Darius– he delivers a laser…) but if he is asked to drop back while the receivers run long routes and he doesn’t see anyone open– I wish they would give him a safety valve to dump the ball off to– that way he doesn’t go from looking for an open man to looking for a way to run for positive yardage…
      My opinion anyways…

  5. wareagle3020 wareagle3020 says:

    Great to see Jay Coulter’s thoughts on a Monday morning to start the week! I am excited at how early in the season the young talent got some great experience in adversity and got the job done. That will definitely help us down the stretch! War eagle!

  6. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    I enjoyed your nostalgic post this summer Jay but it’s really good to read your column once again.
    And yes this game mattered. Just hope it’s the start of something special in 2018.
    War Eagle!

  7. dyingculture dyingculture says:

    Just looked at the Texas-Maryland box score… Texas’s OL gave up 7 tackles for loss to Maryland. Let’s see how Herb Hand does at Texas this year.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..I watched perhaps a dozen snaps of that UT/Maryland game, and yes. Their O-line resembled ours circa early 2016/2017. Guys standing around with their heads on a swivel, and someone in the backfield getting mauled.

  8. Jay Coulter Jay Coulter says:

    Thanks for the kind words. It’s good to be back!

  9. ToddH says:

    Jay great article and I’m glad your back to writing again. Can’t wait for tomorrow!