Somehow, Some way
I took great joy this past week telling anyone that would listen that for Auburn the “second” time is always a charm. After a slow-building, crock-pot type affair, Auburn withstood LSU and Leonard Fournette last weekend to upset the 18th ranked Bayou Bengals under the lights in Jordan-Hare. It was far from pretty, and the offense is still most definitely a work in progress, but you don’t have to look far to find signs of life on this Auburn football team. And that is very good news for this coaching staff.
Gus Malzahn hasn’t provided any extraordinary initiative for his defense to play at a high level. Instead, they have been forced to play with their backs against a wall for much of the season. Through it all thus far, the Auburn defense has shined. Auburn has been in every contest this season and painfully close to having an unblemished record if only the offense could have awarded their stellar play with any sort of spark resulting in a red-zone touchdown.
The good news is that Auburn’s offensive “scheme” is seemingly finding its comfort zone—whatever that is. Despite not one trip to the end zone last week the offense looked a lot more polished than it had against Clemson and Texas A&M. I can’t help but feel like they were one explosive play away (much like Kerryon Johnson’s ridiculous touchdown run against Arkansas State) from really settling down and finally gaining the confidence they need to take the next step.
I’m also pleased with the absence of Jeremy Johnson from the quarterback rotation and the overall lack of quarterback uncertainty that plagued the offense in game 1. Not to bash Jeremy Johnson, but it’s been painfully obvious for quite a while now that this offense simply does not perform with him at the helm.
The wildcat “package” is the most glaring weakness I can see going forward. From what I’ve seen in Auburn games of late, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a rhythm killing, momentum ruining black hole for the offense. I know that Gus’s totally dropping this formation from his playbook is essentially blasphemy, but this has to be scrapped or scaled back to a large degree.
Having grown up watching Auburn teams that could have lined up and pushed an opposing line of Sherman tanks back to gain a yard on the ground, it is nothing but embarrassing watching a Tigers’ offense led by a true offensive genius line up 4 times against any opposing team on their goal line and fail to score.
But for all the gripes and complaints that are now in vogue on message boards and at backyard cookouts across the South for Auburn fans, it is most important to be appreciative of a solid SEC win against a premier team in this league. This coaching staff now has that elusive, momentum-swinging victory under its belt for 2016. What they do with that momentum going forward will ultimately determine the coaches’ fates.