Malzahn Survives. Will He Regret It?
Two days later and I still can’t explain it. Or understand it. How this Auburn team found a way to win a football game with only 19 yards rushing is the most mystifying thing I’ve witnessed in more than 40 years of watching football. Few people get to witness their own death and live to talk about it. Count Gus Malzahn among the few. This guy’s career was as dead as they come heading into the fourth quarter against Texas A&M.
Now we turn to Amen Corner and dare we say, Gus has momentum? Nah. You can’t rush for under the drinking age and have anything close to mojo. The big question remains, what does this offense look like heading to Athens?
Does Auburn let Jarrett Stidham go retro and start slinging it like his Baylor days? What’s the alternative? It worked for a quarter Saturday. Clearly, this offensive line paired with a banged up Boobee Whitlow is going nowhere fast against the Georgia defense.
Saturday’s comeback win may have saved Gus, but it doesn’t cover up what we all watched in horror at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It certainly hasn’t swayed Las Vegas, which quickly made Georgia a two-touchdown favorite. This is a bad offensive football team that found a way to win, and it should be congratulated.
It doesn’t mean Auburn has found a way forward. It simply saved the Tigers from another trip to Birmingham in December. It probably won’t spare them from a beatdown in Athens. At the end of the day, we won’t see a repeat of 2012. To Malzahn’s credit, this team hasn’t quit. Whether you like him or not, he’s done a fine job keeping the players together.
Does this erase all of the termination talk? Certainly not, but it’s highly unlikely Auburn makes a change following a seven-win season. The bigger question is the impact this has on the coaching staff and recruiting in the coming weeks. Changes are certain to be made following signing day next month.
Finding a way on paper to beat either Georgia or Alabama is an almost impossible task. The Auburn defense must play its best game just to keep things respectable. They looked far from it coming off the bye week. The dominant defense of September is now a shell of itself.
Should Auburn lose big as expected this month, what will the climate be around the athletic department going forward? While Malzahn is likely to survive, how will the off-season look should they be humiliated down the stretch?
Auburn people don’t expect to beat Georgia or Alabama yearly. When you pay a coach $49 million, you do expect them to be competitive. Right now, nothing points to that happening this year. While Gus may survive the season, there will likely be days ahead when he wished he’d died on Saturday.