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Upon Further Review: Expect Auburn To Come Back Strong

By on October 7th, 2019 in Football 15 Comments »

Auburn's Derrick Brown sacks Florida quarterback Kyle Trask on Saturday Oct. 5, 2019. (photo: Todd Van Ernst)

As soon as the seconds ticked off the clock in Ben Hill Stadium, I knew the deluge would begin. Saturday evening and Sunday were days of venting on social media for a lot of Auburn fans disappointed in Auburn’s 24–13 loss to Florida.

But after two days, maybe we can step back and look at things with a little more perspective. While I concede there were plenty of questions for the coaching staff after a loss (that felt like should have never occurred), this was a game that came down to who would make the least mistakes or, more so, who would capitalize on the last miscue.

That happened with two-and-a-half minutes to go in the game when Florida’s Marco Wilson picked off Bo Nix to seal the Gator victory. Nix, who had been spectacular coming into the game, finally looked like the freshman quarterback that he is. That had something to do with the raucous fans at the Swamp as well as an outstanding Gator secondary.

I don’t for a minute think Nix’s performance will define him as a quarterback. I still think he’s going to be a good one, maybe a great one. Expect him to learn from the moment and grow. Every great quarterback  has had learning experiences on the way to a great career. Bo Nix will too.

There were way too many mistakes and miscues on both sides of the line of scrimmage for two top-10 undefeated teams. At times there was sloppy play from each offense. It really came down to a defensive struggle with Auburn forcing four turnovers and Florida recovering a fumble and making three interceptions. Aurburn’s one fumble was a muffed punt on the two-yard line that led to a Gator touchdown. Not the way to put yourself in position to win a ball game.

If Auburn looked confused at times, there was a reason. Without a doubt the MVP of the game for Florida was the fans in the stands. Few places in America can compare to playing in the Swamp.

As much as we like to talk about how tough it is to play in Jordan-Hare, Ben Hill Stadium has been consistently ranked near the top of lists for home field advantage. Its design has some unique features that not only rattle a team but make communication almost impossible.

The field is below ground level with steep stands that go down almost to the playing surface. Noise inside the stadium has been measured at 115 decibels, which experts say is just short of the pain threshold. Because of that, Pat Dye always said it was the most difficult place he ever took a team to play. Saturday, it helped cause Auburn miscues on offense, defense, and special teams, making it a total team loss.

However, the brunt of this weekend’s criticism has been borne by Gus Malzahn. Could he have called better plays? Most certainly. But as Coach Dye used to say, it’s not the X’s and O’s but the Jimmy’s and Joe’s that win ball games. And there were several failed opportunities that could have produced an Auburn win.

Two in particular stand out. The first occurred while Derrick Brown was returning a fumble for an apparent touchdown when he inexplicably fell down. Brown was out in front of the Florida pursuit with a wall of blockers between him and the nearest Gator. The second opportunity was Nix not seeing a Gator defender while throwing what looked like a touchdown pass in the third quarter. If he had made the right decision, Auburn could have gone up 20–17 or at least closed the gap to 14–13 with a field goal. If Nix and Brown both had completed their plays for touchdowns, Auburn wins the game 27–24.

For all the teeth gnashing over the last two days, fans need to remember Auburn is 5–1 against the toughest first-half season football schedule in the nation. The Tigers have played three nationally ranked teams on the road and beaten two of them. No other team can say that.

The Florida loss was very disappointing, especially for the players and coaches. But the good thing is the Tigers have a bye week to regroup and make corrections before beginning the toughest second-half college football schedule in the nation. 

Expect Auburn to come back strong.

15 Comments

  1. Good post Tigerman! I was sick with the loss but not as sick as I was hearing some folks cut down a 19 year old QB who wanted to win that game a heck of a lot more than they did. Bye week comes at a good time. Got 2 weeks to get ready for Arkansas. Yes Tigers will be back strong!

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Indeed. We’ll get a chance to get back on the path in a couple of weeks, with an early kickoff in Arkansas.

  3. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    If we go 1-2 vs LSU, UGA, U Alabama we finish 9-3.
    If we go 2-1 vs LSU, UGA, U Alabama we finish 10-2
    If we go 3-0 vs LSU, UGA, U of Alabama we finish 11-1

    Currently, I do not feel good @ LSU. I want that road win badly! Nineteen [19] years without winning down there is not acceptable. We could not beat them when their offense was horrible. Now they seem to have an offense with an air raid. We do not have enough interceptions. We do not have enough interceptions. Why?

    We need to beat Arky and let everyone play. There is a chance UGA and U Alabama will each lose 1 game before comingh to JHS. Patience is the key. Although I cannot wait!

  4. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I liked how the MSU game was handled. They let Bo play over 3 quarters with the game well in hand. He needs every meaningful snap he can get, this year.

    …..LSU does worry me. Last year, I watched what looked to the eye test, and the stat pages like a very mediocre Joe Burrow at quarterback for them, except… he was clutch. When it was third down, he found ways to make plays.

    …..Joe Burrow looks like one of the best in the country, this year. I’ve watched bits and pieces of LSU this year. Completely different offense, and dangerous. They do what Auburn is least able to defend.

  5. WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

    Like this article and I still like Auburn’s chances. But I want to get off subject a little bit by referencing Dan Mullen’s remarks on national TV, calling out Marlin Davidson as a “Dirty player.”

    He asked the league to take a look at dirty plays like the one that injured his QB.
    But it was plain to see Marlon was blocked into his QB.

    Maybe the league ought to sanction him for attacking an opposing athlete without any thing to back it up. This is not the first time for Mullen to make stupid comments. The guy’s a disgrace!

  6. neonbets says:

    Going into 2019, did you think a great season was in the offing, or a just good one? The gnashing of teeth is from those who thought a great season was a distinct possibility. You have a historically dominant D-line, and an outstanding defense behind it. You have an excellent O-line with a ton of experience. You have excellent skill players like Williams, Whitlow and Schwartz for the big plays.

    And now Auburn loses the game that would have set it all up for an epic season of the ages. The Gator game was so winnable. Beyond those two plays, had Malzahn been able to adapt to an appropriate game plan…had Nix been more accurate…an epic season was in there for the taking. Sure LSU on the road would have been very tough–but even with a loss, Auburn would have still been in the Playoff conversation.

    Also, worth mentioning–Look at the players who will probably leave after the season.

    The gnashing of teeth seems perfectly appropriate for those who really though 2019 was going to be special, as opposed to just good. It still could be special, of course—but that was a big setback.

  7. Jason Wright says:

    I support Gus, Bo, and the team, but it does seem Gus looses at least one winnable game a year and then wins some he probably shouldn't. Maybe the last one of the regular season will be the one he wins that most, at present are not giving Auburn much of a chance.

  8. wpleagle wpleagle says:

    “Every great quarterback  has had learning experiences on the way to a great career. Bo Nix will too.” I’ll never forget Pat Sullivan’s second game. He was a vaunted recruit, had a fine freshman season (in the days when freshmen couldn’t play on the varsity), and won his first game over Wake Forest easily. Then Auburn went to Knoxville and was whipped thoroughly, 45–19. ‘Nuf said.

  9. It was a frustrating, tough loss. Would love to play those guys in Jordan-Hare. I really hated to see all the negative comments on fb about Bo Nix but he’ll be okay. As you said, plenty of great QB’s have endured learning experiences.

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