Saturday, September 30, 2006

Good news, bad news

So I had plans, man, big plans. For the Carolina game, for the grandest, most bad-ass recap you’ve ever seen. Dancing elephants. A cast of thousands.

Then I had to work Thursday night. And a horrific, incomprehensible DVR disaster resulted in my never seeing the first eight minutes or final five minutes of the game. Those last five in particular, as I found out on the Internet with my heart not so much “in my throat” as “massaging my friggin’ uvula,” were pretty damn important minutes.

And I don’t want to fake that. Instead, we’re going to look at the good news and bad news delivered by this game. As already mentioned this week, this seems like a contradictory type of time for Auburn, and nothing’s more contradictory than finishing a game and thinking “We won … I'm not supposed to feel like my pet gerbil just died, am I?”

GOOD NEWS: Will Herring outdueled Rice for a terrific pick and looks like, arguably, the best player on the defense. This is a development that ranks on the Surprising Scale somewhere just above “Orlando Bloom wins an Oscar” and just behind “Hezbollah, the Likud sit down to pork chops, talks.”
BAD NEWS: Zach Gilbert? The new Old Will Herring. Picked on like he was wearing braces.

BAD NEWS: Second-and-four for Auburn in the fourth, defense having sucked all night and then sucking wind on the sideline, and Irons and Borges’ bunch can’t get the first down. They didn’t exactly milk much of the clock in the fourth quarter against LSU, either.
GOOD NEWS: I’m not about to say a bad word about an offense that has only six non-kneel-down possessions in a stupid-loud stadium and scores three touchdowns and a field goal on them. I don’t know what Cox’s stats on third down were, but I think they were along the lines of 27-28, 397 yards, 4 TDs. A 3rd-and-21 conversion in that cauldron? Sick. Owning the entire third quarter? Also sick. Maybe the third-and-2 call in the fourth could have been better—but unlike what some people would have you think, not because it was a run (isn’t the point to burn clock?), but because I think on third-and-2, you load up and bring the two tight ends, fullback, etc. But it’s quibbling. 24 points in six possessions? In Borges we trust.

GOOD NEWS: The onsides kick was brilliant coaching on Gran and Tuberville’s part and astonishing execution by Clark.
BAD NEWS: Was it really a good idea to have Tre Smith try to catch something so similar to a punt return? Dunn’s job is safer than Joe Paterno's.

BAD NEWS: SC’s Lemuel Jean-Pierre had a sack, only two weeks after LSU’s Ricky Jean-Francois gave the AU line serious problems.
GOOD NEWS: Surely there aren’t any more Cajuns or Cajun-esque players on opposing defensive lines. Surely.

GOOD NEWS: Fowler and Herbstreit were on hand to broadcast the game.
BAD NEWS: They appeared to be broadcasting from the bridge of a small gaudy spaceship from the late 1980s, hovering somewhere anonymous on campus and watching the game on gaudy monitors. Who needs the press box, or even a stadium?

GOOD NEWS: Marquies Gunn’s fumble return followed by a re-fumble was, at the least, entertaining and pushed the ‘Cocks back some 50 yards.
BAD NEWS: ESPN couldn’t cue the circus clown music fast enough.

GOOD NEWS: Lee Guess sighting! And for a huge third-down conversion, no less.
BAD NEWS: There is no negative side to a Lee Guess sighting. Although when Fowler mentioned that Guess had graduated in three years, would it have hurt him to mention the charming, handsome graduate student who taught Guess Freshman Composition and gave him the communication skills that sent him on his academic way? (Actually, yes, it would have.)

GOOD NEWS: The defense made the big plays—the Herring pick, the fourth-down swat by Lee and Brock—they had to to earn victory on the road against an opponent playing its best possible football.
BAD NEWS: After a punt on the first drive of the game, the ‘Cocks had six possessions and drove to the Auburn 32 or closer all six times. Their last three drives covered 75, 93, and 75 yards. After the Auburn defense sat all halftime and the entire third quarter stewing over the ‘Cocks half-ending touchdown drive, they came out and … promptly watched Newton slice them up like Arby’s roast beef. 93 yards for a score. I don’t care that Newton played out of his mind. I don’t care if Spurrier still clearly has a few tricks up his sleeve. Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care. If Auburn plays defense like that against Florida, Georgia, and ‘Bama, we will go 0-3 in those games. It is NOT acceptable.

BAD NEWS: That defense will cost Auburn in the polls. Tubby can crow as much as he likes, but if your D goes out on Thursday night and gives up more yardage than a Free Rope! charity, you’re going to drop (assuming Ohio St. and USC win, hardly a sure thing.) Even the JCCW would rank Michigan second at this point.
GOOD NEWS: I could not possibly care less. If Auburn continues to win, things will work themselves out. Look: only three teams can logically finish ahead of an undefeated Auburn in the polls. Ohio St., USC, and Michigan. (The Louisville/West Virginia winner will have no big wins aside from that one.) Two of those teams play each other as well as a wildly dangerous Iowa team on the road. The other plays a host of scary foes, even if at home. There is going to be, at most, two undefeated teams at the end of the 2006 season. Bet on it.

But whatever you do, don’t be on these:


After last week’s remarkable 2-4 week, the JCCW is at 7-9 on the season. My big underdog, Rice, got creamed. My big favorite, West Virginia, farted around. Of course. Maybe things will be better this week. But I doubt it.

NOTRE DAME (-14 ½) over Purdue: Purdue went to overtime with Miami (Ohio). They are not good enough to hang with Notre Dame on the road.

Alabama (+16) over FLORIDA: 16 points? Holy crap! Florida barely covered that against Kentucky! Plus I get the feeling this is one of Shula’s “Watch out, I might be an emotionless robot, but I can gameplan like hell” games.

Georgia Tech (+10) over VIRGINIA TECH: Va. Tech barely covered against Duke and failed to against Cincinnati. Now they have suspended players against a schizo team that seems to thrive in these sorts of games. Gimme the points.

Tennessee (-13 1/2 ) over MEMPHIS: Memphis lost to Ole Miss and fired its defensive coordinator this week. Tennesee crushed Marshall last week. This is easy.

Oregon (pick) over ARIZONA ST.: C’mon. I’d take Oregon if they were a double-digit favorite.

Michigan (-10) over MINNESOTA: Michigan is going to have a close call one of these weeks, but Minnesota lost to Purdue. It ain’t happening today.

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