The Dirty Dozen – Week 9
Major Reisman: “Nine”
Team: “The other guys go up the line”
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.
Not many surprises this week. With few exceptions most of the Dirty Dozen performed as expected, even if they didn’t all beat the spread. Several teams had bye weeks and the rest seemed to be on cruise control throughout fairly easy games as we wrap up the end of a very interesting month of October in the SEC. Not many expected what happened either on the plains or throughout the SEC this last month. November will likely bring further surprises as well.
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 menu item – http://trackemtigers.com/?p=19721)
Cruising in the Gus Bus Edition
Florida Atlantic (2-5) at Auburn (6-1 ER:3.5) (24 point favorite) AU 45 – FAU 10
RATING: ! – An expected win, with very little drama other than Marshall’s injury
OFFENSE: Ran the ball with the utmost authority in every phase of the game, even with third string players late in the game. When called upon, Johnson showed his arm and accuracy on the deep ball. If you kept up with the numbers on each series, you saw no less than four quarterbacks and five running backs rack up over 420 yards on the ground, with none averaging less than 4 yards per carry. Eight of them had a double digit gain on a single rushing play.
DEFENSE: Except for the two FAU scoring drives in the second quarter when they were already down by over five touchdowns, the Owls were kept on their side of the 50 yard line for the entire rest of the game. Yet another mobile quarterback gashed Auburn for a few yards, but was under 50% in passing.
KEY STAT: The 10 ball carriers for Auburn averaged 7.2 yards per carry.
COMMENTS: Auburn’s depth on offense in skill positions is simply amazing and speaks of a very good coaching staff. Another key note is except for some false starts late, the replacement players played with the same crisp discipline, tempo and execution as the starters. Auburn is an EXTREMELY well coached team all the way down the roster and at every position on both sides of the ball.
Washington State (4-4) – BYE
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: The Cougars took a week off to get ready to host the Sun Devils of Arizona State
LA Lafayette (4-2) at Arkansas State (3-3) (no line) ULL 23 – ARST 7
RATING: ?? – A very poorly played game
OFFENSE: Terrible performance. Had only 46 plays from scrimmage, and lost all momentum for the first half after QB Adam Kennedy threw an interception on the first possession of the game. Did not cross the 50 yard line on their own until late in the game. The lone score in the second quarter was due to a turnover in the red zone by LA Lafayette.
DEFENSE: A pounding clock killing ground game kept the Red Wolf defense on the field for nearly 3/4s of the game, defending the same relentless inside run plays and play action passing over and over. Gradually began to stop LA Lafayette late in the game, but to no avail.
KEY STAT: 42+ minutes of possession for LA Lafayette. Arky State had less than 18 minutes.
COMMENTS: The Red Wolves were never competative after that first drive, managing only 7 first downs for the entire rest of the game.
Kentucky (1-5 ER: -6) at Mississippi State (3-3 ER: -3) (10 pt favorite) MSU 28 – KY 22
RATING: ! – Was within a play or two of losing to Kentucky at home.
OFFENSE: Struggled to establish the run against a surprisingly adept Kentucky defensive line. Also had difficulty pass blocking, giving up four sacks (more than in the LSU game). Abandoned the zone read and began to throw the ball with Prescott who seemed much more comfortable doing so.
DEFENSE: Played adequately, but gave up some big plays to a team not known for big plays. Blown coverage and lack of pressure led to a 51-yard touchdown, and the undersized Kentucky running backs would occasionally gash the Bulldog defense.
KEY STAT: MSU had only 3.6 yards per carry, their lowest rate other than the Oklahoma State blowout.
COMMENTS: Let this game get away from them with some very sloppy play – an 18 yard sack followed by a bobbled snap on a punt in the end zone for a safety. Had to rely on Kentucky receivers dropping passes on the last drive to escape being embarrassed. A very uneasy win.
Furman (3-4) at LSU (6-2 ER: 1.5) (47 point favorite) LSU 48 – Furman 16
RATING: ? – Another expected outcome
OFFENSE: A balanced, steady offensive game in which Mettenberger ran the offense well and racked up 672 yards of total offense. However, two interceptions (one for a 74-yard pick six) marred what would have been a excellent performance and kept an FCS team around much longer than necessary.
DEFENSE: Very sloppy early in the game, allowing multiple drives by Furman to keep the game within a single score until the third quarter. Run defense was as strong as ever, but the secondary showed some weakness to underneath passing and short routes.
KEY STAT: Only one LSU punt in the entire game, with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
COMMENTS: An easy win, but against a team that lost to Chattanooga by nearly the same margin of victory. Very sloppy and careless play by a team that should have rolled easily and early.
Idaho (1-6) at Ole Miss (4-3 ER:-2.5) (41 point favorite) Ole Miss 59 Idaho 14
RATING: ? – Homecoming beat down
OFFENSE: A very balanced, disciplined performance with few mistakes. Averaged 6.5 yards per carry and completed throws to eight receivers and did not use either quarterback much on read option plays. Fairly vanilla, but effective.
DEFENSE: Except for one big pass play, kept the Vandals to very meager gains throughout the game, stuffed the run game and kept up pressure on the Idaho quarterback.
KEY STAT: 22 for 29 passing for 292 yards
COMMENTS: One of Ole Miss’s better games in which they worked their starting offense well and secured the win with tough defense. Not a lot of substitution from their bench until late, though. Seems to me the coaching staff was a little desperate for a sure win.
Elon (2-6) at Western Carolina (1-7) (no line) WCU 27 – Elon 24 OT
RATING: !!! – The Catamounts played well in a thrilling homecoming overtime win
OFFENSE: Passed for 349 yards and ran for 173 in one of the most productive games of the season. Down 21-10 at halftime, WCU was able to drive from their 12 yard line in the last three minutes of the game to send it to overtime, completing 8 of 11 passes on the drive.
DEFENSE: Kept the Elon rushing game in check, and had some key 3rd down stops to keep the game close. Gave up a bit through the air on big plays, but otherwise stayed in the game.
KEY STAT: 9 for 20 on third down. A vast improvement.
COMMENTS: Their first conference win in 27 tries. A big War Eagle congratulations to the Catamounts. The game of the week for the Dirty Dozen, but the game of the year for Western Carolina. Well done.
Vanderbilt (4-3 ER: 0.5) at Texas A&M (5-2 ER: 0) (18 point favorite) TAMU 56 – Vandy 24
RATING: ? – No surprises as Johnny Football continues to gash opposing defenses at will.
OFFENSE: 550+ yards in a runaway game that saw TAMU score three touchdowns in both the 1st and 3rd quarters. Vandy could neither stop nor slow down the TAMU offense despite the Aggies suffering five turnovers.
DEFENSE: For the first time, held an SEC team to under three yards per carry, and snagged no less than three interceptions. Either those bleacher runs after the Auburn game payed off or Vanderbilt is just that inept on offense.
KEY STAT: 7 sacks by TAMU, doubling their total for the year.
COMMENTS: For all the offensive numbers recorded, this was the best defense TAMU has played all year long.
Arkansas (3-5 ER:- 5.5) – BYE
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: The good news is that Arkansas was sure to escape without an SEC loss this week. The bad news is that Auburn comes to town next Saturday.
Tennessee (4-3 ER:-1) at Alabama (7-0 ER:7) (28 point underdog) UA 45 – UT 10
RATING: ? – A regression to old habits.
OFFENSE: A pitiful first half. It wasn’t until two minutes left in the second quarter before the Vols had as many first downs as Alabama had touchdowns – four. A interception on that single meaningful first half drive resulted in 89 yard pick six and a five touchdown Alabama lead at the break. After that, the offense improved against the second string Tide defense, not that it mattered.
DEFENSE: Did not stop an Alabama third down conversion until already down by four touchdowns. Didn’t force Alabama to punt until down by 35 points. Was unable to pressure McCarron or keep him from passing at will.
KEY STAT: Allowed 7 of 11 third down conversions
COMMENTS: All of the problems of the early season came back to haunt the Volunteer defense prior to Halloween. No pass rush, no effective pass defense, and a porous run defense that simply could not even impede the Tide from racing up and down the field.
Georgia (4-3 ER:-3) – BYE
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: The Dawgs lick their wounds and wait to see which team will implode first in the Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week. It will be interesting to see who scores more points in their next game; the Dawgs, the Gators, or the Red Sox in tonight’s World Series game. My money is on the Red Sox – better long ball numbers.
Tennessee (4-3 ER:-1) at Alabama (7-0 ER:7) (28 point favorite) UA 45 – UT 10
RATING: ? – Too easy to be a respectable rivalry game.
OFFENSE: Seemingly hitting on all cylinders. Good steady run game, excellent passing and consistently good play by the line, receivers and running backs. McCarron was efficient as ever as they marched down the field as if they were playing their scout team instead of a storied rival.
DEFENSE: Adequate, but hardly dominating as the Volunteers did most of the work halting their own offense with dropped balls and miscues. Did not pressure Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley much at all. It’s almost like the defensive line took the day off.
KEY STAT: 0 sacks and 1 tackle for a loss – the lowest total all season.
COMMENTS: Maybe it was the big early lead, but I thought Alabama just phoned it in during the second half. I did not see the defense playing anywhere near their normal game. Offensively, they were still effective and have seemingly solved their early season run game.
Some interesting changes in the overall rating this week, most notably the improvement of LSU, Ole Miss and MSU. While Auburn didn’t seem to improve that much, they are pushing two cutoffs scores on defense, which would bump this score by 2 points if they continue that trend next week against Arkansas. What I find surprising is that only two SEC East teams are in the top eight of the conference. The West is playing well above the quality of football in the East this year.
All the drama and turmoil in the SEC have left Auburn and Alabama as the sole two top ten teams left. The stars all seem to be lining up for a big showdown late in November.
Trivia Note: An interesting note on the costuming for this movie. The Dirty Dozen and MPs are all wearing the standard issue Type III service shoe with canvas leggings, but Major Reisman is wearing black boots. This isn’t an error, but a surprisingly accurate detail. In the story, Major Reisman is the only member assigned to an Airborne unit, and would therefore have been issued jump boots as opposed to the normal footwear the rest of the Army wore at the time.