The Dirty Dozen – Week 11
Major Reisman: “Eleven”
Team: “Posey guards points five and seven”
The Dirty Dozen looks at the games that Auburn’s opponents play throughout the season, highlighting points of interest, tendencies and potential issues for their upcoming game with Auburn. For the teams we’ve already played, I’ll look at how they performed with their remaining opponents in relation to their game against the Tigers.
Week 11 brought a little clarification at the end of the SEC season, but left even more on the table for the main course. Three teams in the East and two in the West are vying for a chance to play in Atlanta. Even this week may not decide the issue, with the Iron Bowl and the Newbie Bowl (between Missouri and Texas A&M) likely being the deciding games for both races. Elsewhere the Dirty Dozen vie for bowl eligibility, with five of seven SEC opponents earning post season play already and only one being mathematically eliminated. Three other non-conference opponents are still trying their luck too.
Grading for the games remains as always
!!! – Best game of the week
!! – Surprisingly good
! – Average to good
? – Why am I watching this?
?? – Who would watch this?
??? – What the hell am I watching?
ER = Efficiency Rating (see Cafe Malzahn )
Bulldog Hate Week Edition
(Ok, then you find a safe-for-work Bulldog insulting picture)
Auburn (8-1 ER:.5 ) at Tennessee (4-4 ER:-3) (8 point favorite) AU 55 – UT 23
RATING: !! – Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning
OFFENSE: The game actually started with six passes and three completions. Then Auburn began to run and score with abandon. Other than a fumble and a pick six, the marathon didn’t stop until racking up 444 yards and five touchdowns on the ground and two more by special teams.
DEFENSE: Although burned early on drives, stiffened dramatically once past midfield allowing only two field goals and a single touchdown in six trips past midfield by Tennessee.
KEY STAT: 4-13 third down conversions by the Vols.
COMMENTS: In the first half, Auburn had more points than plays run scoring 34 points in just 7 1/2 minutes of possession. Mason churned out another 100 yard game and the Vols had no way to stop Marshall from running past their entire defense in the open field.
Washington State (4-5) – BYE
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: Next game – at Arizona
Arkansas State (4-4) at LA Monroe (5-4) (6 point underdog) Ark St 42 – LA Mon 14
RATING: ! – Another conference win
OFFENSE: A shaky start gave way to a dominant balanced attack. Adam Kennedy had 235 yards through the air and a hundred on the ground with the read option and quarterback draw plays. Nearly 500 yards total offense.
DEFENSE: Except for single big play and one long drive dominated the ULM offense the entire game. Good pressure on the quarterback and timely stops forced ULM into desperation passing that resulted in two interceptions and a one-dimensional attack.
KEY STAT: ULM held to 2-14 third down conversions
COMMENTS: Kennedy had his most productive game, accounting for nearly 2/3rds of the Red Wolves offense. Special teams came up big with long returns and a blocked punt, as the Red Wolves cruise within sight of bowl eligibility.
Mississippi State (4-4 ER:0) at Texas A&M (7-2 ER:1) (20 point underdog)
RATING: ! – Too little too late
OFFENSE: MSU ran well against the TAMU defense, gashing the Aggies repeatedly with long runs. Prescott was impressive on the ground and in the air, but threw a costly interception late in the game. Always seemed to be on the verge of catching TAMU but would be let down by,…
DEFENSE: A pitiful pass defense that gave up 446 yards on 30 completions. Burned repeatedly on medium to long passes, the MSU defense simply could not contain any of the Aggie receivers. Even three interceptions failed to slow the TAMU offense. Inside the box, MSU could stop the run, but big plays kept MSU two scores down the entire game.
KEY STAT: MSU has surrendered over 1200 passing yards in just three games – TAMU, LSU, Auburn
COMMENTS: MSU remains vulnerable to the deep route, and hasn’t really stopped a capable passing game all season. With McCarron completing 69% of his passes and averaging 240 yards per game, next Saturday looks like another long frustrating day for the Bulldog defense.
LSU (7-2 ER:3) at Alabama (8-0 ER:7) (13 point underdog)
RATING: !!! – A perfect example of a nightmare game
OFFENSE: Ran and passed the ball well early when they weren’t fumbling it away. Pulled even in the middle of the third quarter, then stopped even trying to run when Alabama answered with a score. Forgot to pass block or catch for the remainder of the game as they were snowed under in the fourth.
DEFENSE: Actually played very well for the first quarter, then were repeatedly burned by McCarron or punched in the gut by Yeldon and Drake up the middle for over five yards a carry. Could not bring pressure on McCarron and were clearly gassed by the fourth quarter.
KEY STAT: Zero LSU first downs in the fourth quarter
COMMENTS: This has got to be a conditioning issue with LSU. In both losses and the Auburn game, the Tigers seemed to disintegrate in the fourth quarter, while their opponents seemed to all gain a second wind.
Ole Miss (5-3 ER:0) at Arkansas (3-5 ER:-4.5) (17 point favorite) Miss 34 – Ark 24
RATING: !! – Ole Miss passes for a big win
OFFENSE: Bo Wallace threw two interceptions, both in the second half, but it still didn’t diminish his best game as a college quarterback, throwing for 407 yards and completing 79% of his passes. While the run game didn’t shine as bright, it was decisive enough to keep Arkansas backpedaling on key drives.
DEFENSE: Bent but didn’t break under a relentless Arkansas run game. Held the Hogs on some key mid game drives to allow the offense to pull ahead.
KEY STAT: Donte Moncrief had 149 yards on 7 receptions
COMMENTS: Mississippi is now bowl eligible and hungry for more. Troy, Mizzou and Mississippi State remain, giving the Rebel Bears a good chance at a New Year’s bowl.
Western Carolina (2-7) at GA Southern (4-4) (no line) GA So 35 WCU 19
RATING: ? – Yet another loss for the Catamounts
OFFENSE: Three Troy Mitchell interceptions led directly to 21 GA Southern points, one of which happened on the second play of the game. After the third interception he was replaced by Eddie Sullivan who led the Catamounts to within two scores before throwing an interception himself in the red zone.
DEFENSE: Couldn’t stop the Georgia Southern run game from piling up 345 yards on the ground. Placed in bad position by the offense on turnovers they still never managed to stop the opposing team from managing the game.
KEY STAT: Eight GA Southern players ran the ball, seven for more than 4.5 yards per carry.
COMMENTS: Without the turnovers, this was actually a winnable game for the Catamounts.
Mississippi State (4-4 ER:0) at Texas A&M (7-2 ER:1) (20 point favorite)
RATING: ! – Unstoppable
OFFENSE: Despite the three interceptions, Manziel had a field day with his receivers. MSU simply couldn’t pressure Manziel consistently and he burned them badly on big plays. Many of his drives were without a third down at all.
DEFENSE: Still solid as tissue paper to a decent run game and vulnerable to a short efficient passing game, something that MSU struggled with. After 10 games, the defense has allowed more rushing yards than their offense has generated.
KEY STAT: 556 yards given up to MSU, the most in any TAMU win this year.
COMMENTS: Still living on the arm and legs of Johnny Football. If any team can corral him like Auburn and Alabama, TAMU is vulnerable.
Florida Atlantic (3-6) – BYE
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: Next game – at Southern Mississippi
Ole Miss (5-3 ER:0) at Arkansas (3-5 ER:-4.5) (17 point underdog) Miss 34 – Ark 24
OFFENSE: Got behind early and tried to pass their way out of a defecit when their run game was effective. Penalties and dropped passes doomed them to playing catchup (again). Little imagination and effectiveness late in the game.
DEFENSE: Intermittent. Looked spectacular starting the second half, pitching two three and outs. Then let Wallace burn them twice on deep passes for touchdowns. Defensive backs were badly out of position on both plays.
KEY STAT: Wallace’s three passing touchdowns totaled 141 yards.
COMMENTS: It doesn’t get any easier for Bieliema. MSU visits in two weeks followed by a road game to Baton Rouge.
Auburn (8-1 ER:.5 ) at Tennessee (4-4 ER:-3) (8 point underdog) AU 55 – UT 23
RATING: !! – Neyland all but emptied by the fourth quarter.
OFFENSE: Never seemed to get into a rhythm, advancing in fitful starts on some big plays then stalling in impotence in the red zone. Dobbs showed promise and Raijon Neal had one of his better games, but could not come back from the deficit once down by two scores.
DEFENSE: Poor linebacker play and poor gap managment for a run attack they knew was coming straight at them. No adjustments at all in the second half as Auburn simply ran three basic plays for the rest of the game starting in the third quarter. Even against second string players, Tennessee couldn’t stop Auburn from gaining 8+ yards a carry.
KEY STAT: Allowed 8.4 yards per carry
COMMENTS: Very vanilla for most of the game, Gus continues to show only the cards necessary to win the game at hand. I get the feeling that Georgia and Alabama are about to get film that doesn’t show a heck of a lot about Gus’s potential game plan for both of them.
Appalacian State (2-7) at Georgia (5-3 ER: -2) (40 point favorite) UGA 45 – App ST 6
RATING: ? – A very careless game
OFFENSE: Despite two scoring drives in the first quarter, struggled to move the ball against a 2-7 FCS team that was blown off the field by Montana. It wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter that Georgia was able to establish their run game and move the ball consistantly on the ground.
DEFENSE: Allowed five App State drives to within field goal range in the first half (two misses and one blocked). Gave up significant yards to a short and medium range passing game that stressed the corners. Very sloppy and the pass rush took a while to overcome some very undersized App State linemen.
KEY STAT: 6 of App State’s 7 third down conversions were in the first half.
COMMENTS: Georgia looked like it was sleep walking the first half and only had thier first cup of coffee at halftime. In the second half it finally started to look like a good SEC team. If Richt’s team does that next week and it could be over rather quickly.
LSU (7-2 ER:3) at Alabama (8-0 ER:7) (13 point underdog)
RATING: !!! – A complete game by Alabama
OFFENSE: First three drives ended in two punts and a field goal. Then Alabama scored on every other possession except the last one of each half. The Tide initiated a steady, grinding short pass and brutal run game that epitomizes every other offense that Nick Saban has ever fielded.
DEFENSE: Seemed surprised in the first half by the LSU offense, then adjusted at halftime and closed down the Tiger offense at the mid point of the third quarter. Overwhelmed the LSU line with a fourth quarter pass rush reminiscent of the Bear Bryant days.
KEY STAT: 3 of 4 sacks came on the last LSU possession.
COMMENTS: Brutally efficient in all aspects, as one would assume with a Nick Saban team. Kirby Smart’s adjustments at halftime coupled by LSU’s sloppy ball handling earlier sealed the game. A team simply can’t make mistakes against Alabama and expect to win. You have to bring your best game and play to the final whistle.
I believe this is the reason for Gus Malzahn’s emphasis on conditioning and fourth quarter excellence. The environment of champions demands it. Get ready for a whole lot of firepower in these next two games.
Trivia Note: Clint Walker mans a MG42 in the last few minutes of the Dirty Dozen. Perhaps the deadliest light machine gun ever used in warfare, it had an incredible 1200 round cyclic rate of fire, causing Allied soldiers to nickname it ‘Hitler’s Buzz saw’ for the distinctive sound it made when firing.
The weapon was copied after the war for the Spanish, Yugolav and Italian Armies. A curious fallout of this were numerous 1960s and 1970s war films that used extras from those nation’s Armies (Patton, Battle of the Bulge – Spain, Cross of Iron, Kelly’s Heroes – Yugoslavia, Von Ryan’s Express, Anzio – Italy).