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The World’s Cruelest Roller Coaster Ride

By on October 8th, 2018 in Football 32 Comments »

The daily high temperatures on the Plains have yet to dip below 90 degrees, and Auburn’s football season is already a forgone conclusion. The only question left is whether it will have more than four losses by year’s end. Any hope of heading to Amen Corner with a fighting chance was obliterated by an average Mississippi State football team.

We all saw it coming but didn’t want to accept it. Today, reality has set in for this Auburn team. It’s an especially hard pill to swallow when your two biggest rivals sit at the very top of the college football world.

Someone recently said that being an Auburn fan was like riding the world’s cruelest roller coaster. Just when you think you’ve arrived, the bottom falls out. So here we go again. What seemed like manageable games against Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M two weeks ago now look improbable. Let’s face it: You don’t fix offenses like this one in a week or six.

Most telling Saturday night was the fight in both teams. Despite coming off two straight conference losses, Mississippi State was visibly hungry from the start and wanted to win. Auburn, with everything to play for ahead of it, looked unsure and lost. Plain and simple, Gus Malzahn didn’t have this team ready. And that goes for both sides of the ball.

When you are the fifth-highest-paid coach in the game and facing a team that’s reeling itself, you don’t lay an egg and get a pass. Buyer’s remorse doesn’t start to describe the feeling of Auburn fans today.

Gus Malzahn is not going anywhere—not this year or next. Boosters caught up in the emotion of season ending wins over Georgia and Alabama ensure the Malzahn Experience continues for years to come. That doesn’t mean it will be pleasant for him and his coaching staff.

As is tradition now, drastic coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball will be the talk as we head toward the holiday season. While Alabama and Georgia talk playoffs, the Auburn faithful get to discuss offensive strategy and who will be its next victim—I mean offensive coordinator.

It’s enough to make you change television channels and devote your fall to Dancing with the Stars.  

Things are only going to get harder for this staff in the coming years. Auburn’s two rivals are only the start. Texas A&M is quickly getting its act together. Florida comes on the schedule next year, and don’t discount Mississippi State and Joe Moorhead. It takes more than landing top-10 recruiting classes. It requires coaching.

Auburn has made its bed and now has to lie in it. Another season is over way too soon. Is it too early to start talking about who’s going to play quarterback next year?

32 Comments

  1. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    The thing is, Malzahn didnt just lay an egg. It would be folly to be upset with that.

    Its four straight weeks of eggs in year six. Hes had two good years that ended with bad eggs in between.

    At no point does this offense resemble anything similar to what chip Lindsey would field.

    Weve seen this same game play out with two coordinators, so it cant be them.

    Malzahn is not a good head coach. Accept it.

    Accept that Jay Jacobs extended gus in a last ditch effort to save his own job and/or give the Auburn people a final middle finger on his way to Florida.

    Accept that we will be passing the hat around at the end of the year.

    • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

      I agree with Acid’s take yesterday when he said the play calling was there but the execution wasn’t. However, i also agree that it’s still incumbent on the coaches to get better execution from the players.

  2. zotus zotus says:

    We’re settlers, son. We settle for things.

    We settle for 6 wins in 19 tries against LSU, UGA & Alabama … while, we celebrate a High School Coach with a High School Mindset — who appears totally bewildered on the sidelines as his team lives and dies on Trick Plays & Field Goals — as a “Football Genius” and as “One of the Best Offensive Minds in the Nation.”

    “What have you been doing, Steven Leath, while Rome burns all around you?”

    “Working the land” … “Passing out seven-year $49-million contracts” … “Hoping for a fertile Spring” replies Mr. Leath.

  3. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Watching Malzahns total bewilderment as he picked his teeth in the second quarter is a snapshot of his coaching style and ability.

  4. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Agreed .. to all of this.

  5. audad says:

    The 16.5 spread vs. TN this week seems a bit generous. Have these Vegas folks not been watching this team the last couple of weeks?

    I took a still shot of Fitzgerald hitting the turf during all the slow-mo replays after his late 2nd qtr TD was upheld. As he was hit his body turned. His back is clearly on the ground just barely touching the front of the goal line. The ball has to be in front of him as he is cradling it. There is no way physically possible that the ball could have crossed the plane looking at that replay, the same one the officials had access to. TD still awarded. I thought the call on the Whitlow fumble trying to score could have gone either way too. But as Acid pointed out in his analysis, he probably should not have reached the ball out at that point. But as hopeless as this offense has been of late, I can’t fault the kid in his desperation to try to score for his team. So many calls seem to have gone against us this year at crucial times. But as the old saying goes, good teams need to overcome those. This team currently is not good enough, from the coaching on down.

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      … good teams overcome those (bad calls).

      I disagree completely. Case in point: when was the last time in the Saban era that Bama EVER got multiple bad calls like that in a game? Heck, when was the last time that Bama ever got a bad call like that, period? This is the team that gets called for offensive holding twice in an entire season, and one of those holding calls was on special teams.

      Good teams overcome it, my foot. The favored teams never have to face those kinds of situations in the first place.

  6. idnod idnod says:

    If you think Auburn was a top ten team heading into the MSU game, then you probably think Gus and Co are going to turn things around and run the table from here on out If you think Stidham spent his summer somewhere other than the #2 Jalen Hurts Long Ball Passing Academy, then you probably think that Kam Martin is a 30 carry per game workhorse and just needs more touches per game. If you think this Saturday night was anything different than what we have been consistently seeing for the last 5 years, Boy ! You are going to see something different this weekend against UT.

  7. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    JS just needs a break from football to, you know, reignite his passion. I’m thinking a long weekend with his fiancé off the coast of Italy. Nothing like a shopping excursion with daddy-in-law’s $$$ to get you refocused. And it will also go a long way with his team mates. They will surely appreciate that recommitment to the team. That vacay would send a message that he has the drive and work ethic to get the team ready for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

  8. neonbets says:

    While the yearly trials and tribulations of being an Auburn fan feels like a cruel roller coaster ride, too many games this year feel like a slooowww motion train wreck. From the first drive in too many games, Auburn just feels flat. Half-A-Can of Dr. Pepper, sittin’-in-the-back-of-the-fridge for 3 years kinda of flat.

    My biggest problem with Malzahn is that he doesn’t stay true to himself. Yeah, I know that’s the last thing many Auburn fans want. Only a very few select coaches–maybe— are so talented. They can adapt to personnel and change schemes of the fly. Malzahn is not one of those guys. And so what? [Sure the salary is a joke & suggests he should be better versed in more schemes–but overpaying for coaches is the reality of CFB in 2018.]

    I wish Malzahn would just be true to himself. He knows his strengths; start focusing on exploiting them rather than minimizing his weaknesses. That’s where his leverage lies. But Malzahn’s not doing that.

    He was never the right coach for a Sean White. He appears to not be the right coach for JS. But he is the right coach for Willis. [I don’t know enough about Gatewood.]

    Malzahn should take over the offense–critics be damned. [Or at least get the offense into the hands of an OC who is true to the Malzahn brand of offense.] Then, get the QB he wants in there–Willis– and let the Tigers run free. It’s not what Malzahn is good at doing–this is something he’s great at doing. Malzahn should stop trying to appease the critics with a diluted version of his best self.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      You make some valid points Neon. Just do what you do best. People are going to critique you no matter what. So might as well play to your strengths.

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      I don’t know about that. Sean White really was a terrific QB at times, when he was healthy (which was about one-third of the time he was actually playing). His range was limited, but man, he was deadly from 25 yards in. JS really was a terrific QB last season, just it took him about 3 games to shake the rust off. Neither of those QBs made the step to the next level, but I don’t think that was the coaching staff.

      I think you can make the case that White failed because of his off the field problems, and it appears that JS has his off the field issues too (how else can you explain how his head isn’t in the game). Plus JS probably has confidence issues since he probably hasn’t gotten over his fumble-itis he had late last year.

    • Orange Talon Orange Talon says:

      Please. He’s been controlling the offense all year.

  9. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Prepare for 2019.
    Bench JS. [He is gone at season end anyway].
    Play Willis and Cord [they can run].

    • dyingculture dyingculture says:

      Wouldn’t benching JS guarantee that he will be around in 2019, since he won’t be going into the draft?

  10. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    Put Cord in the wild cat….if we have to go wildcat.

  11. meathead530 says:

    From the gossip I’ve read, the team doesn’t respect Stidham.

    • BirminghamEagle says:

      From what I’ve heard and READ, the team DOES respect Jarrett Stidham. Malik Willis had this to say on his instagram account tonight:

      “Ya people so negative. Jarrett Stidham is a great QB. Football is a team sport. No one person takes the credit. No one person takes the blame.”

    • Jonathon Jonathon says:

      The O line was so terribly bad in the MSU game that Stidham had to make reads and throw in under 2 seconds. I saw this happen clear as day. He had to just sling it out there with a prayer. He can be faulted for sailing deep balls to open receivers but the entire offense is to blame not just the QB.

  12. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    At this point, I’m not really sure what to think… Not happy by any means but I will have more on Friday.

  13. Jonathon Jonathon says:

    Malzahn’s presser today: Malzahn actually looked sad/uncomfortable on stage… he admitted to his disappointment that the team has enough experience that we shouldn’t be seeing this happen at the halfway point.

  14. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Benching Stidham is not the answer. He was benched during A-Day, and it was not pretty on the field. Plus, even if Stidham’s draft stock has gone down, he could still transfer easily, if he feels like he’s not getting a fair shot. New college free agency and all that…

  15. auburnelvis says:

    I saw two billboards of Coach Pearl in Columbus on my way back from the beach! I’m still exited about the Tigers breaking some ankles on the court. Instead of me wanting to break stuff watching football. Even numbered year jinx I guess.