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From the Eagle’s Nest

By on November 25th, 2016 in Football, News 7 Comments »

The 2016 Iron Bowl may very well be the most significant for Gus Malzahn since he arrived on the Plains as head coach in 2013. While this season has produced many unexpected bright spots, several games have left Auburn fans wondering just how far along this football team really is in taking the next step.

Tomorrow’s matchup against #1 Alabama is a prime opportunity for this coaching staff to show that it is ready to truly take the next step in competing with our cross-state rival. And it won’t occur with the Tigers having their best offensive at 100%. 

Kamryn Pettway is scheduled to return, but I am skeptical as to just how effective he can be running the football. Even with a completely healthy Pettway, I believe Auburn would still struggle to move the ball on the ground against Alabama as well as it has against other opponents. 

There’re also question marks surrounding the health and availability of quarterback Sean White. To me, this is the most crucial aspect of tomorrow’s contest. If White can’t make the start in Bryant-Denny, I think the Tigers’ chances of winning the game dip to around 5%. Maybe less.

Now, I’m not trying to be the bearer of bad news. I just don’t genuinely believe any other quarterback on Auburn’s roster gives it a legitimate chance at winning this game. 

Quarterbacks aside, another key issue I am concerned with entering this game is the offensive game plan, regardless of who ends up taking the snaps. This coaching staff has shown many instances of completely noncreative play calling. That concerns me very much. Alabama is not a team that can be beaten, in my opinion, by attempting to keep things conservative and waiting on opportunities to strike. That mindset leads to a 31–9 (or worse) 4th quarter deficit in my eyes. 

I believe Auburn has to be aggressive by taking chances down field and forcing the issue. Even with Pettway and White both 100% healthy, I don’t think Auburn’s strategy should be any different. Realistically, Kamryn Pettway was never going to be expected to pound an Alabama defense into submission. Believing that would simply lead to a broken heart. 

When I’ve seen this team play conservatively and “gimmicky” this season, I’ve seen a team that appears scared and weak. I don’t want to see that team show up in Bryant-Denny Stadium tomorrow afternoon. I want to see a team that’s motivated and prepared to take every opportunity it can to take the wind out of the Tide’s sails. I want to see Gus Malzahn go for it, for once, instead of waiting on it to come to him. 

Gus Malzahn doesn’t have to win the 2016 Iron Bowl to win back my  heart or reignite the fan base. He simply has to recreate the spark and reemphasize the fear in Alabama football that lead to it cloning our offense in the first place. I can stomach Auburn’s mistakes, triumphs, and failures in tomorrow’s game if they are products of aggression and game-winning efforts—not from a team playing and a man coaching simply to lose by not a lot. 


  1. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    There’s only one thing to say:
    WAR EAGLE !!!
    GO BIG BLUE !!!
    BEAT BAMA !!!

  2. neonbets says:

    Against Clemson, the coaching staff was extremely creative. Rotating 3 QBs–each with entirely different skill sets–and doing so in the same game? Very Creative. Not only that, it was courageous too. The coaching staff put themselves out there, and took a risk that if the plan failed, they would look like fools. Of course…the plan failed, and they looked like fools. But they were ‘creative’, and they were ‘courageous’.

    Against A&M, it only stands to reason that the coaches would scrap that plan, and go to something far more conventional. [Read: Unoriginal. Noncreative.] But it was against a tough defense, that did not allow Auburn to effectively run the ball. Poor game plan or not, White was not up to the task of beating a good team that dared Auburn to beat them in the air.

    Enter a bunch of teams that are terrible against the run, throw in a revelation at tailback (Pettway), and suddenly it looks like the coaching staff ‘gets it’. But ths success had nothing to do with creativity. It was give Pettway the ball 30+ times, and have White throw the ball in the flats when there are 8 guys on the D-Line focusing on the run. Again–pure vanilla, but very effective.

    And here we are…You are correct: Alabama is probably too good for a vanilla approach, but it’s all we got. Control the ball, kick field goals. Hope for turnovers. Looking for more is unrealistic–Auburn just doesn’t have the tools for an effective creative attack. Even the most ardent White supporters have to acknowledge, even when healthy–he isn’t exactly a dynamic talent back there. [Seriously, how many completions where he actually threw the ball 25+ yards down the field? For his entire career, you can count them on one hand…and most of those were against soft, prevent defenses at the end of games that were essentially out of reach.]

    JFIII, or JJ? Each has their strengths, but the game just moves too fast for them.

    You know what? As I wrote the last sentence, I just came up with a really intriguing idea: What if Auburn rotated these QBs throughout the game, and utilized each according to his particular strength? Pure genius!

    There’s a fine-line between courage and desperation. The courageous approach tomorrow is Lombardi football if Pettway & White are a 100%. If not, then in the spirit of a Thanksgiving turkey, break out JFIII, a wishbone, and hope we get lucky.

    • zotus zotus says:

      I love the smell of irony in the morning.

      It smells like C-R-E-A-T-I-V-I-T-Y.

    • hello2196 says:

      Good stuff Neon, although I don’t agree about White. Short to medium range passes work fine ‘if’ you have a good running game, just look at the NFL, most passes are short to medium range. I think White’s intangibles of not getting rattled and especially his leadership (it’s evident his teammates believe in him) gives Auburn the best chance. But ONLY if he’s healthy. We saw how he was the end of last year and in Athens this year. Please coaches don’t put him in unless he’s able to throw the ball!

  3. DBAU81 says:

    Unless the coaches are playing games – which is entirely possible – Sean probably isn’t close to 100 percent. That means JJ with some JFIII sprinkled in. It won’t matter, though, unless we can establish some semblance of a running game, which will be extremely difficult even if Pettway is healthy. But on the other hand, we have a much stronger defense than in recent years, plus the best field goal kicker in college football. If we can turn this into a low-scoring game and go into the 4th quarter in striking distance, we’ll have a shot.

  4. AUFarmBoy AUFarmBoy says:

    While there is always a ” CHANCE ” in this game , given what I’ve seen through out this
    season I don’t think we have much of one . I find myself thinking we may not score at all .
    I also wonder if we will score for bama like we pretty much did for jaw-ja . Could have won
    that game 7- 6 as bad as the offense was if not for handing them that 7 .
    I just hope it’s not one of Gus’s keystone cop game plans and that the defense don’t check
    out in the 2nd half . If things start to snowball it could extra bad on the score board .

    Of course maybe we’ll just go in there and whip their ass . Could happen …… right ?

  5. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Let us be realistic here. If we cannot get to the UA 35 yard line, we may not score at all. Our coaches should do all they can to get us within DC’s range.

    That having been said, I believe our defense will hold UA to a low score game. This is the Iron Bowl dammit! Redeem our sins of the Georgia game.