I Volunteered to Go to Knoxville and Root the Tigers On
You LIE, Vols, you lie. Why do you have to pull an Alabama with the national title resume
Oh, I know it’s Georgia week. How do I count the ways? But I still have a big smile on my face after my first attempt to summit Rocky Top. Yes, my first trip to Neyland. In season twenty-nine–no less. From Atlanta, I’ve trained my car to head mainly south for games, with the exception of a lateral over to Athens every other year (except this one). I’d forgotten how good it was to get out of the neighborhood in the SEC.
What a fine campus and stadium they have up in Knoxville. I attended with UT fans, but a few Auburn folk stopped by our tailgate. It was a great walk over to the stadium. Once inside, our end zone seats were comfortable but far away from the congregation of Auburn faithful seated across the way. Looking that way, I discovered something I found disappointing from such a fine fanbase as the Volunteers. They couldn’t resist the Alabama-esque temptation to anoint their field with undeserved, mythical, minor-selector national championship years in their ring of honor (shown above). Of the six national titles displayed, only 1951 (A.P.) and 1998 (BCS) were legit. Shameful.
Fully expecting to hear Rocky Top played no fewer than 48 times, the crowd had their energy sucked out of them after the pick six and subsequent two play TD drive before the half to put Auburn back up by two TDs. Two more scores in the third and they were filing out of Neyland in droves. I actually felt sorry for the Vols. Their team found themselves in similar straits as us this year with a new coach and a lousy couple of years but our fortunes are vastly different at this point. Butch Jones has had his team up for a few of the games but has been on the receiving ends of more than a few clubbings from the likes of Oregon, Alabama, and us.
I haven’t seen a more thorough stampede of our rushing attack since the 2010 LSU game. The Vols simply had no answer for the shifty Nick Marshall, who played entirely too long in the second half. I’m not sure what Malzahn and company thought they were doing, but the oft-injured QB should have been rested no later than the third quarter in favor of Jeremy Johnson.
Our special teams were out of this world with punt and kick returns averaging over 50 yards per. That’s total domination. I couldn’t see it in the stadium at the time but there’s no doubt later on the TV replay that speedster Corey Grant benefitted from a block in the back for his 90 yard kickoff return. With him averaging over 1o yards per rush this year, we simply have to get him the ball more. While he lacks the cutting ability of Trey Mason, and the bowling ball devastation of Cameron Artis-Payne, his speed is McCalebb-like enough to warrant close to 10 carries a game. Maybe we’re just saving him for the returns?
And it is folly to label Auburn’s offensive attack this season as one-dimensional. There’s two reasons why we didn’t have to pass the ball that much Saturday: Marshall’s arm is still healing and we were averaging eight and a half yards per rush. We didn’t need the pass. Besides, Marshall has already demonstrated he can throw the ball under pressure and rack up huge yards if our run isn’t the only weapon we need to dial up. He demonstrated that against State and Texas A&M. We simply aren’t showing much at the moment. Sauron’s, er, SABAN’s eye is all-seeing, and it watches game film.
So expect entire new sets for Amen Corner. I’ll be back later before Saturday to discuss Georgia week. War Eagle!