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Just What the Doctor Ordered

By on September 2nd, 2013 in Football 27 Comments »
malzahn tiger walk

It didn’t take long Saturday to see that things were different. Trailing early in the first quarter, this Auburn team did something unseen last season – it responded. That alone is enough to call Saturday’s season opener a success.

After a summer of hope and hype, reality hit Saturday night. Gus Malzahn’s team has a long way to go. Like Pat Dye’s first team in 1982 and Tommy Tuberville’s inaugural season in 1999, this group is laying a foundation for the future. It’s going to be laborious and ugly at times.

And that’s OK.

On a miserably hot and humid night at Jordan-Hare Stadium fans got what they paid to see: Players who care again. Make no mistake, there’s a lot for this team to hang its hat on following the win over Washington St.

Sure Nick Marshall looked at times more like Juice Newton than Cam Newton, but it was easy to see he’s clearly the best option at quarterback. The Auburn defense did something we haven’t seen since the 2010 National Championship Game. They adjusted to the play of the opposing offense.

Somebody buy Ellis Johnson a beer or six.

Who was that Cory Grant kid? Not listed on the depth chart early in the week, he’s the fastest back in an Auburn uniform since that Cadillac guy. Kudos to the much maligned offensive line. Nobody is saying they are ready to line up and beat LSU yet, but they did hold their blocks for most of the evening. It’s all about baby steps.

Looking forward, this Auburn team will go as far as Marshall can take them. Admittedly nervous, he will have to get better quick for Auburn to have a chance at post-season play.

Count Washington St. quarterback Connor Halliday among those not impressed with his early showing.

“They (Auburn) ran the ball real, real, real well,” said Halliday on Sunday. “If they could find a quarterback, they’d be a top-five team in the nation. They just don’t have a guy who can throw it. That running game was something very, very impressive.”

Marshall finished the game 10-of-19 for 99 yards and 27 yards rushing.

Halliday’s coach, Mike Leach believes there’s more to see with Marshall than what was on display in week one.

“I am just kind of curious about him after he gets more games under his belt,” Leach said. 

This Saturday will be no push-over when Arkansas St. comes calling. The Red Wolves made easy work of Arkansas Pine-Bluff 62-11 in its opener. They set an NCAA record with four players rushing for more than 100 yards in the game. Their defense may be the best in the Sun Belt Conference.

Offensively, look for more of the same, with Arkansas St. trying to take advantage of Auburn’s secondary. They are led by Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and Phenix City native J.D. McKissic, who caught 103 passes for 1,022 yards and five touchdowns last year.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised by Fox Sports South.

Here’s hoping that it’s a few degrees cooler this go around.

27 Comments

  1. restless6 says:

    I’m with Connor. Marshall didn’t impress me, and he sure doesn’t look as mobile and elusive as was sold. He almost appears to be KF like more than Cam like.

    • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

      I wasn’t totally impressed with Marshall either, but to be fair, Frazier would have tossed two or three picks and would have taken three or four sacks. Same goes for Wallace.

      • wde1988 wde1988 says:

        I couldn’t watch every snap on defense but I did watch the offense. NM almost threw a pick or two. The ball was going Mach 3 and over everyones head is probably why the DB couldn’t bring it down. He forces the ball just like Frazier. He locks on his target and throws it regardless.

        Give a top tier SEC team… like bama, LSU, UGA, or USC and that will be a pick 6.

        And talking about touch… he had two WIDE OPEN receivers and the ball was 10-15 yards over thrown.

        First game jitters? Sure. I know he had them regardless of what he says. But if he does this next week…. you might want to prepare yourself.

        This goes to talent. And I am unimpressed.

        WDE

        • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

          All true but at least he didn’t do Fraziers “fainting goat” impression when he felt a little heat. Personally I give him one more game to display better accuracy and timing. If it doesn’t work burn Jeremy Johnsons red shirt and put Marshall back in the secondary.

  2. restless6 says:

    I’m not so sure that Arky State might not be able to run at will and slant us to death Saturday. Cam Cameron will run it down our throats Sept. 21.

    Is there any solution to stopping the run?

  3. TriumphantTiger says:

    As a former DT in a 4-man front, i hope the coaches decide to close the gap between LT and RT somewhat. We’ve still got an achilles heel for those pesky draw plays!

  4. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Jay, I love optimism. I have been there before. But there are some overriding factors at play that I just can’t overlook:

    1) To compare Nick Marshall to Cam Newton is ludicrous. He isn’t even in the same hemisphere. For Auburn’s sake and for the sake of the season I hope he improves. There is plenty of room for it. Someone said it before… he looked more like KF. Where is a trusty Chris Todd when you need him?

    2) Our receiving corps isn’t. I have jokingly said perhaps we could play Therezie on both sides of the ball. For all the hype these guys STILL can’t catch. Isn’t that a prerequisite for getting recruited? I know… perhaps AU’s engineering department could develop handles for footballs. It should be something that Auburn get’s a copyright for this year because even when they get hit with the ball… they can’t hold on. That isn’t helping NM confidence too much either.

    3) Ellis Johnson might be the brain trust… but the muscle is Rodney Garner.And I can’t speak for what’s going on behind the Defensive line… but I like what I am seeing happening up front: accountability. Our LB corps could use a heaping dose of it. The rest of the defensive staff should get on board.

    4) The thing I am most upset about… is the lack of talent at Auburn. It’s obvious when you see us line up on the ball. For all the fanfare of recruiting… something is still missing. Are we even looking at film? Are we doing our homework on these kids?? Some of these kids are rated big but when they come to campus… they are a dud. Sorry… if you can’t produce on the field… you don’t need to be on the plains.

    5) There are some positives. Sure. But I believe those will pay dividends in the future. What we have this year being served up to us will be a sloppy joe. I am waiting on someone who can deliver the Filet Mignon or at least steak and potatoes.

    WDE

  5. mikeautiger says:

    It was so good to see some adjustments on defense. And for the first time sense Muschimp was DC we had defensive backs that looked back for the ball, glory halaluya!

    We improved all around during the game the most i’ve ever seen a team improve in a game. We will improve a lot before we hit the field next week.

    We gave NM all day to throw, his height may be an issue, but after only 4 weeks to get in the system he did ok. He will get better, but he cannot keep forcing the ball.

    I’m excited for the future, there will be bumps in the road but we will be ok in the long run.

    I’m excited for the future

  6. DBAU81 says:

    Wow….lots of negativity on here this morning.

    What we saw Saturday night was the first public display of rebuilding a team that was wrecked by the previous regime. This will be a marathon, not a sprint.

    As for Nick Marshall, remember that he and the receivers have only been practicing together for a month. Obviously they’ll have to improve, but we should give them the room and the time to do so before we start making any judgments. If you want instant gratification, then you’d be better off heading to the drive-thru at Wendy’s instead of Jordan-Hare in 2013.

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’m still a fan of Nick Marshall. He looked lost in the first half, but the guy was 8 for 11 in the second half, and he didn’t turn the ball over. He got a lot figured out as the game went on.

    …..WSU was a tough, veteran defense in the front seven. Big linemen, fast linebackers, and they were all up on the box. And with little passing game, Auburn still busted their chops for almost 300 yards on the ground.

    …..Arkansas State has only 5 starters back on defense, and they gave up more than 24 points per game, playing in the Sun Belt last season. They aren’t in WSU’s league physically. And I highly doubt Arkansas Pine-Bluff got them ready for what they’ll see from Auburn’s offense.

    …..Like Auburn did last season, the Red Wolves have installed a new offense, and gotten off the Gus Bus. Remember Auburn’s offense last season? It rolled up a ton of points against the Alabama A&Ms of the world. It didn’t do much against a defense with a pulse. I know the Red Wolf players will really be looking forward to trying to beat Malzhan, but I don’t think it will happen.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Agree,
      Also a stat of note from the first game: Nick Marshall (96.4) had a better QB rating than AJ McCarron (89.31).

  8. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    For all the negative commentators, just think back to when you were 18, 19, 20 or even 21. Did you do everything perfectly the first time you tried? This team will take time to figure out what they are able to accomplish. I saw great improvement in attitude and fight over last year’s team. These guys want to win and they figured out how to win Saturday. There will be tough spots since we are a long way from a top level SEC team, but hard work will improve the production. Pat Dye’s first team only won five games but they hung tough in all of them and look where they went in succeeding years. Keep your head up and support these kids, and remember they are just kids. And NEVER forget: IT’S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

  9. sparkey sparkey says:

    So would you rather have Chizik or Gus? I think it’s pretty clear. I don’t know what you guys expected. I think some of you just pumped way too much sunshine all off season and now you can’t come to terms with reality. That’s the problem with sunshine pumping. You get people to thinking this team will be great when in reality we’re coming off of the worst season any of us at Auburn can remember. Yeah, we won three games before but we never gave up like we did last season. That takes time. It takes a growth period. I guess some folks just figured we’d be fine and now they’re disappointed we’re not fine. There was a myriad of reasons we went 3-9 last season and it will take a myriad of reasons to make us a winning program again.

  10. audude audude says:

    I agree with Jay, Acid and the rest that are saying this is a re-building team. What I was concerned with before the game and what I saw:

    Q1) How will this defense, the same one that gave up last year, respond when they get hit in the mouth?

    A1) They overcame self doubt and bought into CE’s system and got more INT’s in one game than all of 2012.
    A1a) There is plenty of learning to do to play at the level they are capable of playing i.e. DT, DE & LB’s shooting gaps.

    Q2) How would the offense play????

    A2) the QB who had 1 month showed little…but wait he was chosen as the starter 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks to get the timing and chemistry without the benefit of Spring ball or Summer workouts. It showed. But the fact he managed well (compared to what he did last year) shows growth.
    A2a) A concern of mine was our RBs put the ball on the turf 2 times. We must hold onto the ball better.

    Q3) In speaking to a relative in Bagdad, he said last year the crowd gave up on the team as well as the team giving up. In his opinion when the crowd gave up the team felt it and stopped caring. Would that happen this time?

    A3) NO!!!!!! It was absolutely AUsome at JHS Saturday night. My 5 had never been to a game at JHS and most had never seen AU play live. They all cheered their voices out and had a blast doing it. The fans stayed to the end and cheered loudly to the end.

    Q4) How will they respond this week?
    A4) TBA

    It was the beginning of a new era and it was good. Not pretty but good.

    WDE

  11. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    Wow. Wasn’t expecting that many negative nancies. Atmosphere was great compared to last year. Everyone stayed and it was loud in my section. We had a great time. Everyone was a little hesitant in the beginning after the first three and out. But once we got that interception ~ the crowd came alive. It was a miracle! The guys didn’t quit. Marshall didn’t just lay down when the pressure got on. He did say he was nervous. Who wouldn’t be?! They’ve had 2 WEEKS together knowing the starter ~ no spring ball and learning a whole new system. Pretty amazing I would say.

    Oh.My.Goodness. The sideline demeanor! Whoowhee!! I’ve never seen Malzahn that animated! When Marshall called that timeout….it was at our endzone and boy was he livid. He lit into Nick and Prosch. That wasn’t the only time. He is like a mad genius when the game begins. Garner was pretty animated also. Don’t remember seeing any of that the last couple of years. What a chess match between the two offensive coaches….

    All in all for me, I saw guys that really wanted to be a team this year. Fighting for each other and trying to make things happen. It was exciting to see a defensive stand at the end and then an interception! Gus is not going to quit until 0:00 and you better be on the same page as him. No it wasn’t perfect and not pretty. But I’m not giving up on them yet ~ which we all did last year. With Gus leading the Tiger Walk (which I’ve never seen before) it was definitely a new day!!

    War Eagle Errybody! It’s always great to be an Auburn Tiger!

  12. AUJTJarhead AUJTJarhead says:

    Ok, so we all hoped Nick would be the second coming of Cam. Nonetheless, he did improve in the second half. Gus and Lashlee know how to tailor their talent. Chiziks O coordinator was out of his league last year and could not adjust to his talent. We will improve as the season goes on. Guaranteed. We take our lumps this year and probably become uber competitive next season. As has been well stated by many here: Pat Dye won five his first year.

  13. tigertracker says:

    I like what I saw especially the second half adjustments and coaches in players ear holes!
    No we aren’t where we want to be yet, but did anyone really think we’d go from zero to hero that fast? I’ll take the W and be happy, we are moving forward rather than backwards!

  14. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    I’ll wait and pull my hair out if we haven’t seen significant improvement at every facet by week three….

  15. WarEagleEngr says:

    Maybe someone can answer a few questions for me. I watched the game in a sports bar and couldn’t hear commentary.

    I noticed picture placards on the AU sideline, similar to those used by Chip Kelly at Oregon. Has Malzahn adopted this method of signaling plays?

    And why did Auburn go for 2 after the first touchdown? (I believe this too is a habit of Kelly’s, makes me wonder if Malzahn is emulating some of his techniques.)

  16. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..They were doing that before Malzhan left back in 2011. Some folks were incensed when they had a big placard of Obama in the mix. It’s all about encrypting what they signal in to the offense, not some political statement.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..And I think they went to bigger pictures, after Cam had to burn a couple of timeouts because he couldn’t see what was being signaled in, in the 2010 SEC title game.

  17. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    PLEASE remember that Auburn, the football team and family, has a deep wound that occurred last season both on and off the field. Those types of deep wounds do not heal rapidly. Saturday night our boys joined the 50% of teams that played and produced a win. We could have been in the other 50%. We heard the Auburn post game radio show and Ben Laird said that last year’s team would Not have won that game. We are on the road to healing that wound. Support these boys.

    And NEVER forget: IT’S GREAT TO BE AN ABURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE GO BIG BLUE !!!

    BEAT ARKANSAS STATE !!!

  18. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    ^^^ Totally agree – good stuff ^^^

    I’m going to respectfully disagree with some of the negativity. Obviously, we’re not 100% yet but I see way more positive than negative. When the game was tight, this team didn’t crack or panic. I got the sense that this team knew they were going to win this game, even though they weren’t playing perfect.

    Unlike others, I didn’t see panic or fear in NM’s eyes. Just the opposite, he looked and played calm and didn’t allow his throwing mistakes shake him. The touch will come in time – gawd,, he’s got a cannon for an arm. Of course he’s not Cam Newton (yet) but Cam wasn’t Cam until week three… Malzahn tweaked the offense with Cam after Clemson and they started utilizing him differently. I think they are trying to push NM into the Cam style offense and it will take time or need to be tweaked for NM’s abilities. Our schedule is favorable over the next two weeks to settle into the offense.

    Grant has squirrel speed and Dyer’s size; he was an awesome surprise; I started feeling sorry for Tre.
    I think M. Adams is a beast and he will push Gabe this year. Frost and Sanders seemed to always be around the ball and our secondary has some swagger back.

    Good to see the fire in the ‘belly’ with the coaches. We are going to be fine…

  19. Malakai Malakai says:

    Bottom line is the Marshall has SOME elusive qualities, but needs to develop them if he intends on facing top tier SEC pass rush. He is no running threat. He has accuracy issues that can be fixed, the running part is an innate skill that you either have or don’t. I’d give him the first half of next week and IF the race was as close as was publicized between him and Johnson I would put in Johnson. We’re gonna take our lumps this year anyway, we may as well get some experience out of a quality RETURNING QB.

    Secondary was impressive. Loved the way they lined up. No 10 yard cushion. They fought for the ball, and blatantly held receivers…but whatever. Sometimes the ball bounces your way sometimes it doesn’t. All the calls seem to bounce Auburn’s way. I forget the receiver that Marshall finally completed a long throw to, but he was clearly juggling on the way out. Auburn got off the snap. It should have been reviewed.

    Auburn’s D-line and Mike linebackers are jokes. That was the most worrying thing I took from this game. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a less talented running corps and O-line slap Auburn around with such utter impunity. In short it was embarrassing. I would rather seen Marshall throw a few picks than that. Utterly, totally unacceptable.

    Looking at the schedule we must win all of our non-conference games and steal two from SEC schools. I think those two will be Ole Miss and TN, and I am not sure we can handle Hugh Freeze right now.

    Forget about the Iron Bowl, let’s just make it to a bowl game. 6 wins for this team will be difficult. Very, VERY difficult. It won’t be 2012, but close enough to it. Be prepared for a long season on the Plains.

  20. War_Eagle_2010 War_Eagle_2010 says:

    Lets not forget this was the first game of the season. AU has typically struggled in season openers over the past ten years or so, and usually it hasn’t reflected the season. As far as NM goes I was watching his facial expressions during the first half and he was literally wide-eyed and shaking, in the second half he was visibly calmer and had control of himself. I believe second half version of NM is what we can expect to see this season, a QB who makes good decisions and doesn’t risk turning the ball over. I’m more worried about our wide outs, on more than one of those deep balls they seamed to give up and slow down in mid route, however I expect this will be corrected as NM gets more in sync with them. I do worry about the LB situation as well, but in this game AU played a lot of dime so I don’t think we can pass final judgment on the LBs yet. M. Adams is an absolute man eater.