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The Dirty Dozen – Week 1



Major Reisman: “One!”

Team: “Down to the roadblock, we’ve just begun”

Throughout the regular season Auburn will play twelve teams. I’m planning to track each of them to help gauge how their seasons are progressing and how Auburn will/did do against them. While I’m sure there are other metaphors to be used to illustrate this, the one above seemed to me the most appropriate, especially in the case of the “Eisenkessel” at the end of the season.

If ever there was an evil empire run by a megalomaniac dictator supported by cold-hearted despicable fanatics who believe they are the master race of the NCAA, Alabama has got to be it.

I will post the points favored or underdog, and review the relative strengths and weaknesses displayed by our opponents offenses and defenses. If I see a trend or an important aspect, I’ll try to highlight it in my analysis, noting what is working or not working for them, and how that may impact us in our upcoming game.

For those teams we’ve already played, I’ll do the same in relation to how well or poorly they played us. Keep in mind the comments are for the OPPOSING team, and only serve as a vehicle for commenting on them, not us.

As an overall grade of how interesting the game was to view, I’ll use the following scale:

!!! – Best game
!! –  Surprisingly good
! –   Average to good
? –   Why am I watching this?
?? – Who would watch this?
??? – What the Hell am I watching?

This week’s Dirty Dozen after the jump.

Wash St at Auburn (16 point favorite) – Auburn 31 – WSU 24

I realize it is unlikely there exists an Auburn fan out there who doesn’t know the outcome of this game, but nevertheless, there were a few things about the game I feel worthy enough to note.

RATING: ! – A win!  Maybe a few too many heart stops for my taste, but a watchable game with a lot of excitement.

OFFENSE: The Washington State offense stressed the Tigers and put up some big numbers offensively, especially passing the ball. Of particular note was exploiting the short pass vulnerability we showed over the middle. Even when our rush began to make a difference, WSU still was able to dump to the TE or WR on a crossing route immediately behind the line. 

DEFENSE: WSU’s rush defense was obviously porous to the Auburn running game. At times they closed the gaps well, and read the blocking schemes to clog the lanes, but yards after contact was still a problem for them, and they gave up quite a few big plays.

KEY STAT: 295 yards rushing allowed by WSU.

COMMENTS: Obviously, we won but the most surprising thing about the victory was the way the defense played against WSU’s offense. As was said earlier, the defense made adjustments (that weren’t made last year) and WSU struggled to adapt. Our pass rush was impressive late in the game, with some new comers showing great promise. WSU was obviously flagging late in the game due to the heat and poor conditioning. Auburn also picked Haliday three times, exceeding the team interception rate of all of last year, but this in keeping with Haliday’s usual performance. He had 13 in 9 games last year.

Ar Pine Bluff at Arkansas State (24 point favorite) 62-11

 RATING: ??? – A complete mismatch played very well by Arkansas State but hardly a valid measure to see how they might play against Auburn.

OFFENSE: 500 yards rushing with four players over 100 yards is impressive. But since I didn’t see anyone tackling closer than ten yards behind the line of scrimmage for Pine Bluff, that total is hardly surprising.

DEFENSE: Again, ASU looked great at stopping essentially a high school team, but it wasn’t a measure of this team’s potential.

KEY STAT: 2 penalties. This seems like a well coached team, but it’s very hard to tell if this is significant.

COMMENTS: 62 straight points by ASU followed by 11 gimme points scored against freshmen and backups. This wasn’t a game. It was a massacre. Each play looked good and effective, but when no one touches your running back until five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, everything will look good.

Oklahoma State at Miss State (13 point underdog) 21-3

RATING: ?? – Disappointing, to say the least. I expected a much better game from MSU.

OFFENSE: Other than a couple of early scampers by Perkins, the MSU offense was dismal to bad. Neither Prescott or Russell looked comfortable and anytime they looked like they were making any progress, they were stopped by a penalty.

DEFENSE: Played well early, but quickly seemed to lose steam and motivation. Very poor run defense late in the game and very vulnerable to short passes.

KEY STAT: 11 penalties for 74 yards. Even the yellow flag seemed to have more yards than MSU. A very poor showing for an SEC team.

COMMENTS: The Bulldogs seemed to play defense well enough in the first quarter, but the offense kept failing to make any progress whatsoever as Oklahoma State began to make yards against a tired defense. MSU is in for a world of hurt if they continue to play like this. I fully expect this team to finish last in the SEC West.

TCU at LSU (4 point favorite) 27 – 37

RATING: !! - I just don’t see how this was only a four point spread. I felt TCU was at least a touchdown underdog, if not two.

OFFENSE: LSU has a slew of good running backs, and Mettenberger seemed to have found his groove as the game progressed. LSU seemed to be clicking on all cylinders against a decent team.

DEFENSE: LSU’s pass rush is as good as advertised and their defensive didn’t give up many deep passes. TCU struggled all night to move the ball consistently.

KEY STAT: 13-19 Third down conversions by LSU against a pretty good defense. 

COMMENTS: LSU seems as tough as advertised. They ran well, passed well and played tough defense with few mistakes. This is one of the most balanced teams in the league. If this keeps up, I’m favoring LSU to win the SEC West.

Ole Miss (4 point favorite) at Vanderbilt 39 – 35

RATING: !! - One of the best games of the week.

OFFENSE: When the Rebel offense finally got started, it seemed very difficult to stop. Ole Miss made good adjustments in pass blocking at halftime. Vanderbilt was only able to sack Wallace in the first half. He wasn’t touched in the second.

DEFENSE: The Ole Miss defense whiffed a few key tackles early, but otherwise improved against the run as the game progressed. The Rebel secondary was by far the weakest part of the team. Both interceptions were “gifts” not take-aways, and with just one of those back, Vandy would have likely won the game.

KEY STAT: +2 Turnover margin. Ole Miss had 0 turnovers. Despite their early game jitters, this is a well coached offense that made few ball handling mistakes.

COMMENTS: Two short field scores put Ole Miss up by 10 in the first quarter, but it was all Vandy in the second quarter, scoring on three successive drives while stopping Ole Miss with an effective pass rush. Vandy sacked Wallace to end each of the three Rebel second quarter drives. But in the third and fourth quarters, Ole Miss scored on all but two drives (one of which was a missed FG). In contrast, Vandy only reached Ole Miss territory three times in the second half, and one of those was by virtue of converting on 4th and 18 from their own 26.

Western Carolina (32 point underdog) at Middle Tennessee 24-35

RATING: ??? - Unwatchable.  No, really, I couldn’t find any published video of the game. The comments are purely from the play-by-play and statistics.

OFFENSE: WCU was down 28-0 before scoring so much as a field goal. Even changing quarterbacks didn’t help.

DEFENSE: Non-existant and poorly coached.

KEY STAT: 4-15 third down conversions against a mid-tier C-USA team.

COMMENTS: Nothing to see here, move along, the ambulances will be here in a moment, move along, give them air,…

Rice at TAMU (27 point favorite) 31 – 52

RATING: ! – Interesting, but it shouldn’t have been. Texas A&M should have had a runaway early.

OFFENSE: Texas A&M has a good backup behind Johnny Football. All things being equal, they would have won this game without him.

DEFENSE: A surprisingly poor showing by the team that held Alabama to 122 yards rushing last year. Rice totaled over 300 yards on the ground, showing up the TAMU run defense as a potential soft spot. In the last six years, Rice has had 300 yards rushing in only two other games. The last time TAMU gave up 300 yards rushing was in a 2008 66-28 loss to Oklahoma.

KEY STAT: 16 rushing first downs by Rice.

COMMENTS: Johnny Football has a bright future, but if the TAMU defense is this porous to the run, they stand to lose some key games if opposing defenses can contain him.

FAU (32 point underdog) at Miami 6 – 34

RATING: ??

OFFENSE: Almost non-existant against a mid-range ACC team.

DEFENSE: Played very poorly and could not seem to tackle well. Simply could not shake any blocks within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

KEY STAT: 10 punts by FAU

COMMENTS: Anyone have a spatula? The game was like watching a tomato and a bowling ball collide.

LA LAfayette at Arkansas (11 point favorite) 14 – 34

RATING: ? - Somewhat entertaining, but only for the first half.

OFFENSE: Arkansas had two hundred yard rushers in a game, each averaging over six yards per carry. While against a mediocre team, it still points to an important change in what this team was able to accomplish last year. It remains to be seen if they can continue this type of output once the SEC schedule begins.

DEFENSE: A good performance, especially on third down, when they seemed to tighten up and shut down LA Lafayette both in the air and on the ground. Otherwise, second down they seemed to give up some unnecessary yardage.

KEY STAT: 139 yards rushing in the 3rd quarter – nearly as much as the rest of the game.

COMMENTS: A well played game against an inferior opponent. Not much to judge, but I didn’t see many faults.

Austin Peay at Tennessee (50 point favorite) 0 – 45

RATING: ??? - I’d rather watch paint drying.

OFFENSE: Not enough of a game to render a judgement. By halftime nearly all the starters were on the bench.

DEFENSE: Same. A glorified scrimmage against a scout team.

KEY STAT: The score was 21 to 0 before Austin Peay gained a first down.

COMMENTS: What psychotic deviant scheduled this game? A FIFTY point spread? That UT failed to even match it is the only telling statistic. Like the ASU game above, the level of play by the opponent makes this game unreadable for any relevant information.

Georgia (2 point favorite) at Clemson 35 – 38

RATING: !!! - One of the best games of the week

OFFENSE: Aaron Murray was nearly perfect except for that one interception – 20-29 for over 300 yards. Georgia also ran well against a top ten defense, but miscues on third down were a problem all game long.

DEFENSE: A good but not great defensive effort against a really good offense. Georgia lost this one on some big plays and the inability to mount an effective pass rush on Boyd, who made them pay for it.

KEY STAT: 4-14 third down conversions for Georgia. That won’t cut it against any team in the SEC.

COMMENTS: I believe Georgia is still a top ten team, but they need more consistency on 3rd down and step up their pass rush to compete. They didn’t look vulnerable except for some of their coverage breakdowns that gave up the big play, but statistically, they didn’t do too poorly.

Virginia Tech vs Alabama (20 point favorite) 10 – 35

RATING: ?

OFFENSE: Simply anemic and barely able to manage any consistency. Almost too appalling to comment on. It ranked 111th out of 115 BCS schools last weekend, against a mediocre defense at best. Pathetic.

DEFENSE: The only reason Alabama stayed on the field in this game was due to defense and special teams. Virginia Tech did them some favors by dropping some catch-able balls, but the run defense was one of the best in the country.

KEY STAT: 96 yards rushing on 38 attempts by Alabama. The worst rushing total in a win by any Alabama team since the 2009 Iron Bowl.

COMMENTS: For all the talk about how good Alabama is, the offensive effort must have been a severe disappointment for Nick Saban. Possibly his worst offensive showing in five years against ANY team, ranked or unranked. If this continues, this could be a long season for the Tide.

We can only hope.<g>  

On to week two.  Auburn has some work to do, and I expect the coaching staff’s motivation to go something like this:

Trivia Note:  Despite the over-the-top Hollywood excess of the movie, there WAS actually a group of American soldiers during WWII called the ‘Filthy Thirteen’ that conducted clandestine demolitions behind enemy lines. The urban legends that surrounded their various missions were the basis of the book and screenplay for the “Dirty Dozen.”

3 Comments

  1. restless6 says:

    Superb work!

    LSU looks like the team to beat.

  2. DothanTiger DothanTiger says:

    Enjoyed the post Sullivan, Liked seeing your “Key Stats”
    Most interesting one was Bama’s 96 yards rushing on 38 attempts. “The worst rushing total in a win by any Alabama team since the 2009 Iron Bowl.”

  3. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Great idea!