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Iron Bowl Weekend is Here!

By on November 29th, 2013 in Featured Article, Football 20 Comments »
Thanksgiving Band

                                                                   Celebrations are in order!
                                                                         (Photo by Acid Reign)

     War Eagle, and Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! It’s a day to give thanks, to eat well, and to think ahead to Saturday’s clash of the titans. I’m thankful for the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, and we’ll get to see these two teams tangle in effectively a championship playoff. Alabama is ranked number one in the nation, and Auburn is fourth. The winner takes the SEC Western Division, and heads to Atlanta next weekend to play for the league title, and a possible berth in the final BCS Championship Game in Pasadena.

     I’m thankful this morning for quite a few things, not the least of which is that my whole family is home and healthy for this weekend, even if some of us are still a little sleep-deprived. It’s that time of year. I’m thankful to live in what is still the greatest country in the world. I’m thankful to have a warm bed and a roof over my head, and enough to eat every day. And I’m ever thankful to Jay Coulter and War Eagle Atlanta for talking me into this gig. And the biggest thanks of all goes to AubTigerman, who really kept things going on this site behind the scenes when we were having difficulties last fall.

     I’d be lying if I said I had a good feel of how this year’s Iron Bowl is going to go. Many folks point to 2009 and expect a repeat of Auburn jumping out front and holding on. I don’t really see it. Both teams are different, this year. Alabama is certainly not as one-dimensional on offense, and Auburn has been, this season. For the Auburn defense, it’s not a simple matter of stuffing Yeldon and being in the clear. Alabama will throw it on first down, and A. J. McCarron will make his pre-snap reads and check off correctly. Any chance of stopping Alabama begins with winning some battles up front, and successfully disguising what is happening in the back seven.

     On offense, I’d expect that Alabama will have some concepts Auburn hasn’t seen much of on film, ready for this game. They’ve done that sort of thing the past three years, and gashed the Auburn defense for multiple early touchdowns. My gut feel is that we’ll see some spread out, quick passing things early, but it’s also worth nothing that teams like Arkansas and Tennessee have had recent success just lining up heavy and running at Auburn. Bama could mix it up, trying to keep the Auburn defense off balance.

     Line play for Auburn will be critical on defense. Alabama has protected their quarterback well this season, giving up only 9 sacks. Auburn pass rushers must realize that they probably won’t get there, so get those hands up and get in position when the quarterback’s arm starts cocking. Needless to say, gumming up running lanes is essential. Auburn has been particularly vulnerable on draws and off tackle runs this season, as Auburn ends often rush too far up field, or crash the middle. I’d figure on not a few 2nd or 3rd and long draw plays.

     Auburn’s back 7 philosophy this season has been to not give up the deep ball, and that must continue. Alabama will take a shot here and there, and the safeties must be ready for it. Auburn corners must try to make plays on the ball when they have support behind them. It’s not enough to just stay with the receiver. Chris Davis and Jonathan Mincy are both in the top 5 in the SEC in passes defended, and they’ll have to continue to play at that level.

     There is unlikely to be any special teams advantage in this game. Both teams kick off and punt pretty well, and opponents don’t get much out of the return game. Alabama leads the SEC in net punting with 42.0 yards per, and Auburn is 3rd with 40.7. Alabama has given up a total of just 57 punt return yards on the season, while Auburn has given up just 16. Both teams are in the middle of the pack in the league in kick coverage, although Auburn does lead the league in touchbacks, with 57 on 78 kickoffs. I’d expect Auburn to just kick it to the end zone against Bama, and not allow Christion Jones a chance to do any damage.

     It’s a given that Alabama is going to move the ball and score some points, because everyone else Auburn has played has done that. What Auburn must do is produce yards and points on offense. The biggest burden will fall on the Auburn offensive line. These guys have been phenomenal this season, but they face a big challenge with Alabama’s talented front seven. If Auburn has any pre-snap tendencies, Alabama will find them, and try to take the primary option away. With many defenses, one can declare them either a 1-gap or 2-gap defense. With Alabama, it can go either way. They often move a linebacker up on the line and play 1-gap, and I’d expect to see a lot of this to take away Tre Mason in the middle. Alabama likes to clog the middle and force play to the sideline, where they can use their superior speed.

     The Tigers will need a few short throws over the middle if Alabama commits a player to each gap. Look for the Tide to “slow play” Auburn’s option looks, and wait for help to arrive. I fully expect that Auburn’s first strategy will be to see if Alabama can be blown off the ball with quick-hitting running plays. I’ll be shocked if Auburn’s first play isn’t either inside power, or play-action off of it, with some sort of decoy sweep motion.

     I think that the opportunity is there for Auburn to hit some big passes down the field, but attempting those passes plays into Alabama’s hands if they aren’t successful. Does Auburn dare throw deep on first down, knowing that a first down is unlikely from 2nd and 10? I think they at least have to try it a few times.

     This can be said about most games, but Auburn needs to be turnover free. Ball carriers must hold onto the ball, receivers must catch it, and quarterbacks must make good throws. There’s not a lot of room for error against the SEC’s top defense.

     We’ll have our usual open thread up bright and early for the Iron Bowl on Saturday, and our usual play by play. Be sure to tune in, and join in the fun! War Eagle, and let’s beat Bama!

20 Comments

  1. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    A.R.,

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Thanks for an exciting opening for the BIG GAME. I am SO excited, I am tempted to drive to Auburn, sans ticket, just to soak up the atmosphere. It will be WILD! I’ll be there in spirit for sure. Thanks to all the people that make TET the greatest Auburn site anywhere. We really appreciate all of you and all you do. God bless all of you. AND,

    NEVER FORGET: IT’S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

    BEAT BAMA !!!

  2. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    I’m so super pumped about this game that even massive amounts of glorious brined turkey can’t hold me down!!

    We need to run it up the gut, toss it about a bit. Just go about business, forgetting the fact that we are doing so against the #1 team in the nation. That’s all.

    Related: Eddie is totally a Bammer. Just sayin’ #NationalLampoonsCFV ToTM family viewing tradition.

    War Eagle! Beat Bama!

  3. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    I highly recommend the current post on warblogle. A link is on the sidebar.

  4. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    There will be no losing on Saturday.

  5. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Wow, is brined, smoked turkey special, or what? I bought a Publix-brand turkey last Saturday, and got it soaking immediately. Brine recipe? Two La Choy 15 oz. bottles of soy sauce, a box of brown sugar, a half cup of salt, and enough water in that mix to cover the turkey. I left the turkey and brine mix in one of those big hefty 2.5 gallon bags for four days in one of my kids’ mini-dorm fridges.

    …..Thanksgiving morning, I got up about 1:30 AM and chopped a few things, and set things up for smoking. I quartered two yellow onions, and planted those things in various turkey cavities. I also processed a head of celery, discarding bottom thirds, and placing the leafy tops all over the turkey. Center sections I saved for stuffing with Philly cream cheese for early snacks. I then took a whole head of fresh garlic, and ran it through a garlic press all over the turkey.

    …..My treated, celeried, onioned, garlicked, and brined turkey went into an old Brinkman electric smoker, with about five chunks of hickory, out on the concrete porch. I stayed up till about 3:00 AM, making sure things started apace, on an 18 degree night, then I headed back to my down comforter for a few hours.

    …..About 7:00 AM, another alarm went off, and I got up to check to make sure the smoker was still running. It was, and I added another half-dozen hickory chunks to the irons. Mmmmm… there is no better aroma than a smoker with all elements fusing nicely!

    …..I enjoyed Thanksgiving morning with all the Macy parade television and further food preparation, and I also cobbled up the above post. It was a fun morning, to say the least!

    …..I hope everyone has had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and is now focused squarely on the Iron Bowl! War Eagle! I’m getting more fired up by the minute!

    • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

      Dude! That sounds awesome!

      Our brine: orange peel of 3 superSams oranges, rosemary, peppercorn, brown sugar, garlic, salt….hail to the Pioneer Woman…..but I wished that I had brined it longer than overnight……..anyway, the skin was awesome. The turkey was great! Cornbread dressing. Noodle kugel. Asparagus. Cranberry sauce + apple sauce. Sister shuberts rolls. Good times!!!

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        ……I like to buy a fresh, never frozen turkey, but I didn’t have time to work it out this year. With a frozen store-brand thing, you need time to thaw it right and not have a bacteria-fest. A brine for 4-5 days helps, and also on the flavor.

        …..I do like Sister Shubert’s things, but my crowd wants things crispy, and those Schubert things tend more towards doughy-sugary. To keep the peace, I defaulted to an old standard I stole and modified, from a restaurant I worked at some three decades ago, the sour-cream muffin.

        …..Combine in a large mixing bowl:

        16 oz. Sour cream

        2 sticks of butter

        1 cup of whole buttermilk

        5 tablespoons of sugar

        1/2 teaspoon of salt

        1 egg

        Mix well, then stir in:

        2 to 2.5 cups of self rising flour, to desired thickness. If I’m mixing this at the beach, at zero/sea level, I’ll use the full 2.5. Up in the Smokies at 1800 feet above sea level, less is more.

        Spray two muffin pans with Pam, then spoon in the mix, filling each cup about 2/3rds of the way. Bake at 350 degreesF for 45 minutes.

        • Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

          Thanks!! I just copied the recipe and put it in my notes (posting from my iPad)…….

          We were fortunate and got a fresh turkey…but, yes be wary of the bacteriafest. Uncool. Luckily, our 3 season room is the temp of a super cold walk-in frig…..so there’s some perks to living where we do. :). Next year, will brine for longer……or increase the salt…we’ll see. Regardless, we don’t eat an unbrined turkey.

  6. sparkey sparkey says:

    I think it is obvious you are not incredibly high on our chances. I am just trying to remember how good of a season we had already. I am nervous about tomorrow. I think that is an understatement actually. It has been a great ride either way. I wish I could offer more confidence but I cannot in any way. I am just thankful we had such a great weakness and I think Auburn will be a top program under Gus.

  7. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    War Damn Eagle! If we can run the ball between the tackles when they know we are then out OL is winning the battle in the trenches and we will win this game.

  8. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    TRACK EM TIGERS, JUST LIKE BEAGLES! GIVE EM HELL, YOU WAR DAMN EAGLES!!!!

    Game Day starts in 12 minutes! I’m hoping to see Auburn rockin’!!

    I’m super proud of this team! This season is so much Fun! Now, 2013 Auburn Tigers, get your asses out there and SHOW them what the Iron Bowl is all about!!!

    War Eagle! Kick Bama’s ass!!!!

  9. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Coach Gus Malzahn ROCKS!!!!

    War Eagle!

  10. mvhcpa says:

    WAR EAGLE!!! (That’s all I can coherently think right now, I am so worked up!) MVH