Turning Down the Back Stretch
Can Jarrett Stidham get his mojo back in the second half of the season?
College fans wait eight long months for the start of football. It’s hard to believe that half of the season is already over. As Sullivan013 pointed out in his weekly column, it looks as if no one will be able to stop the freight train from west Alabama.
Auburn on the other hand is struggling to produce some semblance of consistency, especially on offense. After defeating Washington, one of the best teams in the nation, the Tigers have regressed. But before we jump off the cliff, there is still some hope, however slight it may appear to us recliner-chair quarterbacks. We saw flashes of it Saturday in Starkville.
After leading the conference last year in pass efficiency, Jarrett Stidham is throwing at 56.2 percent accuracy. That has to improve. No one knows that better than Jarrett. “I’m the one with the ball in my hands every play,” said Stidham. “For our offense to be as successful as it’s going to be, I’ve got to play a lot better.”
He did play better in the second half in Starkville. He threw for 176 yards the last two quarters as the Tigers rolled up 225 yards. That’s something that has to continue for there to be any chance at winning the next three games much less be competitive come Amen corner. But that’s not the only area Auburn must improve on.
It’s more than obvious the offensive line, despite injuries to starters, must be better at protecting Stidham as well as opening holes for the running game. And now that Mississippi State found an Achilles heel in Auburn’s defense, Kevin Steele has to find a way to fix that quickly because opponents will be trying to emulate State’s success. Probably most important, the Tigers have to take advantage of every opportunity to put points on the board when in a position to score.
Can they do all that? I believe they can. But they need a good game to boost their confidence level.
Some sports psychologists say that athletes’ performances are 90% mental in determining outcome. That’s why you hear so much about playing in the zone or a team having momentum. When a team has it, it seems to get stronger as the game progresses. Lose it, and become frustrated and press too hard instead of just playing the game. Of course it doesn’t help when there are highly questionable calls that can impact “big Mo.” (As was the case with the two calls that went against Auburn Saturday, causing a 14 point swing.)
I know, I know, a team has to overcome those obstacles. The best way to do that is believe you can. And that comes from continuous success that can boost confidence and improve the mental part of the game.
There is little doubt that Auburn should have defeated both LSU and Miss State. But woulda, coulda, shoulda, doesn’t count. What does count are the games left on the schedule as Auburn turns down the back stretch. And that begins 11 a.m. Saturday when historic rival Tennessee comes to town.
War Eagle and …
Beat the Vols!
Editor’s note on perspective:
A lot of Auburn fans have been dismayed because of Auburn football’s 4–2 start. However, mother nature has a way of putting things in to proper perspective. As this article goes to press, I’m thinking this evening of the folks under the heavy hand of Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle, southern Alabama and Georgia, many of whom are part of the Auburn family.
Football is not very important in the grand scheme of things when you have to try to live through a category 4 hurricane. If you are a person that believes in prayer, please join me in praying for peoples’ protection tonight.