Winning Out West
Note to readers – This is what I get for watching my favorite old movies on Netflix and Hulu.
Made his way into the mountains
Betting on forgetting
All the troubles that he knew
The trail was wide and narrow
The eagle or the sparrow
Showed the path he was to follow
As it flew.
In many ways, this upcoming 2019 Auburn Tiger season is daunting in the extreme. Towering peaks of adversity in the form of no fewer than six preseason top-fifteen teams litter the schedule with the highest ranked, most talented teams at the end of a very long season. The Tigers have a true freshman starting quarterback, lost games to four of the six teams now ranked ahead of them on the first preseason poll, won only three of six SEC Western Division games they played last year, and lost both games with SEC East teams.
It’s a challenge of an uncharted wilderness being faced by neophyte.
Additionally, the head coach has taken over all offensive play calling, even after hiring a new offensive coordinator. Auburn has also had a string of injuries to its receiving corps, key returning players are coming off injury-plagued seasons, and their impact for the coming year cannot be fixed as anything but a complete unknown. There is simply no way to tell if they will be able to reach the level of play they achieved before being injured.
Despite the trackless paths the team is scheduled to navigate this season, beyond the rocky gulfs and windswept chasms of an unforgiving season ahead, I can’t shake the feeling that there is strong reason to hope for something spectacular to happen in 2019.
Call me cocky for a starving pilgrim if you like, but I believe this team is ready to skin as many grizzlies as are lined up for them to handle.
l can skin most anything.
Because the large-bore Hawken gun we have now have in our hands courtesy of Kevin “Hatchet Jack” Steele is that veteran Tiger defense on the other side of the ball.
Think of it this way—call it what you will, the Tuberville Two-Step, the Mad Hatter Masquerade or the Saban Process, it all comes down to a fairly tried and true method of winning way out West. That is, if you can run the ball behind a good line and have a powerful, run-stopping, pass-rushing, quarterback-sacking, shutdown-corner robber defense, it doesn’t really matter all that much how experienced your quarterback is or how often you pass deep. Provided you can run effectively and pass just enough to move the flags, chances are you’ll win against just about everyone, so long as that defense gets you the ball back reliably and efficiently, even when you get in trouble on offense.
This doesn’t mean you won’t take that occasional big play when a man is open, just that you don’t have rely on it so often when you’re in a tight game. Your defense will just give the ball back in four plays, and you have the opportunity to try again…and again.
It’s the formula that has earned Nick Saban, Ed Orgeron, Kirby Smart and even Jimbo Fisher their current head coaching jobs (and for that matter, Jeremy Pruitt and Will Muschamp). If you look at their current rankings, that’s pretty much why their teams are ranked as high as they are in the preseason. They all have returning starters on offense in key positions, but the greatest argument I’ve seen in article after article on why their teams are expected to shine this year is due to their defensive prowess and host of returning starters on that side of the ball.
Come or think of it, this traditional method of winning the west may be as old as the Bear himself and is certainly a fundamental principle of how Pat “Bearclaw” Dye first earned that nickname back in 1982.
Along with “Bo over the top,” that is.
Granted, preseason hopes are always higher than the Rockies for every team, and until the scrum of the first several games is completed and the first heavy snowfall of the season reveals just how long and harsh the year will be, there will be hope. But try as I might, I just can’t dismiss this feeling that this year’s journey is on the verge of the magnificent.
Overlooking the field on opening day…
Ain’t this somethin’? I told my pap and mam I was coming to the plains to learn and be an Auburn man. Acted like they was gut-shot. Says, “Son, make your life go here. Here’s where the peoples is. Them plains is for Tigers and the War Eagle.” I said, Mother Gue, Jordan-Hare is the marrow of the world.
And by God I was right!
I ain’t never seen ’em, but my common sense tells me Tuscaloosa is for the meek, and Athens is where children play! This here stadium is God’s finest sculpturing! And there ain’t no laws for the brave ones! And there ain’t no asylums for the crazy ones! And there ain’t no churches, except for this right here! And there ain’t no priests excepting the War Eagle! By God, I are an Auburn fan, and I’ll live ’til an arrow or a bullet finds me. And then I’ll leave my bones on this great field of the magnificent . . .
A tribe’s greatness is figured on how mighty its enemies be.
War Eagle! August 31st can’t get here fast enough!