Sunday, October 15, 2006

Auburn 27, Florida 17: the recap

As it turns out, no, this is not 2003. War Eagle!

But enough with the preliminaries, the audience cries! (OK, so it’s just my Mom wondering what I thought of Leak’s fumble/non-fumble. Whatever.) Here’s the JCCW’s patented quarter-by-quarter recap of Auburn-Florida:


MIKE PATRICK: Welcome to the Plains! This is Mike Patrick coming to you from Jordan-Hare Stadium, where tonight the Auburn Tigers will look to bounce back from a 27-10 loss here a week ago against the No. 2 team in the nation, the Florida Gators, who have their sights set on a national title. This match-up is so colossal that tonight, ESPN is going to bring you their unique brand of laughably bad bobble-headery, pointless sideline reporting, sub-a.m.-radio play-by-play, and general contempt for the viewer across the ntire ESPN inbred family of networks as part of ESPN’s “Full Ninth Circle of Hell!” On ESPN2, you’ll be able to …[a loud knocking sound comes over the microphone] … um, they’ve got multiple … [the loud knocking sound continues] … camera angles …
MUFFLED VOICE OF RON FRANKLIN: Hello? Mike? Todd? Will you guys let me in? Please?
MIKE: … along with, uh, Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio…
MUFFLED VOICE OF RON: Please? I’ve got cookies. I’ve got a Sub Club card with, like, six stamps on it. It’s yours. I can’t take any more East Carolina games … Fellas, please?
MIKE: … [visibly rattled] ..and Jim Donnan, and on ESPNU there’s, there’s Jim Rome’s new show “Rome is Burning” and … and …[enters seizure-like state] … HOLY COW! HO-ly Cow! Holy COW!
TODD BLACKLEDGE: [on his cell phone] Charlie, hey, how's my favorite agent? ... Yeah, I'm calling from the booth. How long before I can I go back to CBS, again?

--Nice to see that someone made sure that for the Florida game Auburn not only had the Fog of Intimidation going as the Tigers came out of the tunnel, but the Fireworks of Our Team Entrance Is Better Than Yours as well.

First quarter

--Tristan Davis is tackled at the 9 on the opening kickoff. As omens go, well, at least it’s better than seeing a flock of vultures circling the Auburn sideline. But not that much better.
--Fortunately, the Auburn offense doesn’t care much for omens. The first three plays net two first downs. On third-and-four at their own 40, Auburn runs a toss sweep with Irons for the first. Yet another example of why, even after the worst play-calling performance of his Auburn tenure last week, most Auburn fans would give various minor appendages to keep Gorgeous Al around.
--MIKE: A major part of Auburn’s struggles last week was that Irons was unable to play. First-and-10 for the Tigers … [a cell phone starts ringing] … Whoa, guess that’s me … Hello?
THE JCCW: Hey, Mike. It’s the Joe Cribbs Car Wash calling.
MIKE: The who?
THE JCCW: Nevermind. Just wanted to give you two quick heads-up’s. First, Irons played last week. Averaged five yards a carry, in fact. Second, look, I’m not going to be merciful in my recap of this game. Your undeserved promotion over Ron Franklin is the very essence of everything that is wrong and soulless and corporate at ESPN and I happen to think you’re a buffoon with no sense of how to call an intelligent game. And I’m going to point that out at every opportunity. Cool?
MIKE: HO-ly cow! Back to the game, Auburn makes another first down. They’re [actual quote here] clicking on all cylinders.
TODD: Mike, cylinders fire. They don’t click. The offense can be clicking, but … nevermind.
MIKE: HO-ly cow!
--Pass to Stewart keeps the drive rolling to the Florida four. But Cox then pulls the same “I’m going to pull the ball down rather than pass it to the wide open receiver out of the backfield at the very slightest hint of pressure” maneuver he mastered last week. Fumble, incomplete on third down, FG attempt.
--Even from the same Left Hash of Doom from which he honked his kick vs. LSU, J**n V****n is good from 22. I’ll take it.
--The “Click-Clack” Under Armour commercial airs, but once again it’s the Tubby-less version, which hasn’t been seen (that the JCCW is aware of) since the opener. What’s happened here? Did they lose the footage? Is it in an airport locker somewhere with the missing Watergate tapes?
--Patrick says that Vaughn “crushes one” on the kickoff, then let us know he’s a walk-on, and gives us his touchback statistics, all apparently oblivious that Clark, not Vaughn, is the kickoff specialist. If I was this bad at my job, I wouldn’t just be fired, I’d have been sued by now.
--In the time it takes to give the person next to you a high-five for the field-goal, Florida has second-and-2 on the Auburn 3. Nice to see those defensive problems from the last two weeks have been solved allowed to fester.
--Fortunately, the Infallible Pope Urban (I.P.U. for short for the remainder of this blog’s existence) decides to switch out of the spread that took the Gators 77 yards in the blink of an eye and into a stacked I that in no way suits the Florida personnel. Auburn gladly accepts the hand-out by stuffing two runs. Field goal, 3-3.
--Third-and-six for Auburn, and the Gators collapse the pocket with the kind of ease associated with wadding up pieces of paper for a shot at the office trash can. Sack. Such an easy sack, in fact, that after last week I’m starting a SackMeter, now at 1.
--Florida starts their drive with an end-around, after which Patrick says Meyer is “digging deep into his bag of tricks already.” Uh, Mike? Did you see last week’s game? I don’t think an end-around to Caldwell is so much “deep into the bag of tricks” as “sitting near the lip of the bag of plays to use all the time.”

Second quarter

--For the second straight week, a tall veteran receiver (in this case, UF’s Dallas Baker) makes AU corner Jonathan Wilhite look like the middle-school geek jumping up and down and trying to get his Green Lantern comic back from the bully holding it over his head. 10-3, Gators.
--Davis breaks loose for a 58-yard return. This comes a week after Lester returned kickoff for big yardage vs. Arkansas. The hell? We’re Auburn. We don’t have dangerous kickoff return units. I’m sort of uncomfortable with it, truth be told.
--MIKE: [actual quote as the Auburn offense takes the field] “Neither team has really stopped the other.”
TODD: You mean, aside from when Florida forced a punt on Auburn’s last possession?
MIKE: Um … … … … … HO-ly cow!
--First down pass bumps the SackMeter to 2. But back-to-back strong plays from Lester and a Florida offsides give Auburn a first-and-5 at the Gator 23. It’s another first-down pass and … new center Jason Bosley yells “Ole!” as Marcus Thomas flies by. SackMeter to 3.
--Cox again bails the O out by connecting with Smith for a first down. Then a perfectly executed middle screen to Tommy “Not a Blocking Tight End” Trott yields a first-and-goal … or at least it would have if Trott hadn’t decided to run down the field carrying the ball with two hands, away from his body, like an actual steaming-hot potato. UF’s Tony Joiner merrily separates Trott from the ball, turnover.
--YES! Florida guard Jim Tartt tackles Groves in the end zone for the rare “holding in the end zone” safety. This play nearly caused the JCCW the leap out of his skin, because he could see the referee motionlessly staring right at the play, but not hear the following exchange:

UMPIRE: Hey, buddy, you saw the take-down there, right?
REF: Yep, saw it the whole way.
UMPIRE: But you didn’t throw the flag.
REF: Nope. That’s the rule, right?
UMPIRE: The rule?
REF: Yes, that you’re allowed to hold in the end zone. You know, that when in you’re in your own end zone, that you can hold “in safety,” right?”
UMPIRE: Um … not exactly. *throws flag.*

--So Auburn gets the ball again, and despite his assorted injuries Irons is doing his Irons thing: Rush for 15. Rush for 6. Screen for 8. Then Lester pops off for 1 to the Gator 18. But then it’s third-and-six, and we all know what’s coming. SackMeter to … well, first-down pass to Taylor. Who knew? Maybe this time we can punch it…
--Nope, there it is, on second-and-goal. SackMeter to 4. But at least V****n is good for a second time from the Left Hash of Doom, this time from 31. He’ll earn his name back at this rate. 10-8, Gators.
--The last three games of defense summed up in one play: UF’s Percy Harvin is smothered on the end-around, and tries to reverse field. Alleged superbeing Tray Blackmon screws up his killshot, though. Harvin keeps running. Then alleged solid corner David Irons misses his tackle. Harvin makes the corner and gains 35 yards. Sigh.
--In comes Tebow, and I’m struggling a bit for a metaphor to convey how pathetically easy his 16-yard touchdown run is. It’s like … You know how in Monopoly, sometimes you’ll go past Reading Railroad and land on Chance, and the card will tell you to go to Reading Railroad? And you’ll circle the board and get $200 dollars for passing Go and haven’t even moved more than a few squares back? That was how easy that run was. Not to be Mr. Unhappy Fan and all, but the Auburn D needs to check their lockers at halftime for the testicles they must have left in there.
--Actual quote from Patrick: “I’m just awful.” We agree, Mike! (OK, so the full quote included “…at these,” meaning the AFLAC trivia questions, but still … he said it.)
--At least the Auburn offense is continuing to make Florida’s defense look like the most overrated defense outside of Auburn’s defense. A huge third-down completion to Taylor and a 33-yard draw by Lester helps take AU to third-and-3 at the Florida 13. Too bad we all know what’s coming. Bosley takes another metaphorical punch to the groin. SackMeter to 5. This makes three first downs inside the 10 and another inside the 20 with no touchdowns. Even the Tide—the undisputed 2006 masters of the stalled drive at the opponent’s 7--is having a giggle at Auburn’s red zone offense.
--V****n is good from 34. I’m going to wait until the end of the game to make a decision, but he’ll probably lose the asterisks. 17-11 at the half.
--Having Holly Rowe on the sideline means at least we’ve got a shot at an interesting quote from Tubby going into halftime, and they don’t disappoint. (Actual quotes.)

HOLLY: What did you think of your team’s tackling?
TUBBY: What do you think? It’s awful … We’re going to get that straightened out in just a few minutes.

Strangely enough, he wasn’t exaggerating.

Third quarter

--As the third quarter opens, we’re treated to a shot of Patrick and Blackledge inside ESPN’s ‘80s-style announcer booth space-pod, currently hovering outside picturesque Samford Hall.
--David Irons starts the defense’s second-half by making a decent but hardly SportsCenter-worthy hit on Baker to force an incompletion. Irons responds, however, by leaping about in the kind of celebration usually reserved for WWE performers who have just completed a match-winning slam off the top ropes. I’d be more irritated if I didn’t feel like maybe the D needs to be a little psychotic, if that’s what it takes to not suck.
--Sure enough, Groves sacks Leak on the next play, and now the crowd’s finally appropriately nuts. I’m also guessing that an Auburn defender, let’s just assume it was Irons, has this conversation with Florida punter Eric Wilbur on his way off the field:

IRONS: So, you heard about that whole E. Coli thing? Nasty stuff.
WILBUR: Yeah, so?
IRONS: You see the news this afternoon? Turns out it wasn’t spinach after all. It was the leather they use to make college footballs.
WILBUR. Ugh. No way.
IRONS: True story, man.

--You know what’s coming. A shaken Wilbur drops the perfect snap, Davis crushes him, Jerraud Powers gets the world’s easiest punt block, Smith somehow avoids falling over in the scrum and somersaults into the end zone with the game-changing play. 18-17! SWEET!
--Let’s take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of Matt Clark, who booms yet another kickoff into a touchback, and is having just about as good a season as a kickoff specialist can have. Good on ‘im.
--With the crowd approaching Spinal Tap-concert decibel levels, I.P.U. goes surprisingly conservative, moving Leak under center and calling two straight straight-ahead Wynn runs. This sets up third-and-long, and it’s another SACK! by Groves. “Where has this defense been?” Patrick asks. Hell if I know, but it’s pretty gosh-darned nice to have it back.
--It’s third-and-five on AU’s next possession, and you know what’s coming … wait, actually, it’s perfect possession. A confused Cox tosses a pass at Taylor’s ankles, ruining what should have been an easy first down.
--With a punt inside the 20 well within reach, Bliss sends the kick on the express route to the end zone. He apparently missed the memo that the team wasn’t supposed to suck this week.
--Chris Leak is officially capital-R Rattled. His third-down pass looks more rushed than a New York cabbie and is more than a couple of yards behind Baker. It’s still a one-point game, but Auburn’s D is clearly in control of the game at this point. Who knew?
--AU’s Prechae Rodriguez lines up along the Florida sideline before going out on a deep pattern on first down, leading to the following exchange:

ERIC WILBUR: Hey, you heard about that whole E. Coli thing?

Suffice it to say Rodriguez drops Cox’s best pass of the night.

Fourth quarter

--Flags giveth—Jarvis Moss flattens Cox for no reason, giving AU a third-down conversion—and flags taketh away, as an illegal motion undoes a third-down conversion. At least Bliss, now aware of the “Don’t suck this week” memo, gets a fair catch at the 10.
--Leak completes his first pass of the drive for 32 yards to Baker, prompting Patrick to call Leak “the last guy to lose his composure.” Leak’s next pass, of course, is right into the hands of David Irons. Irons, perhaps distracted by planning his celebratory post-interception dance, lets the ball bounce off his fingertips.
--Florida drives to the Auburn 7, bringing in Tebow on second-and-4. Auburn stops him for a gain of 1. That’s better, but surely he’ll come at them again on third … wait, they’re bringing Leak in again? On third-and-3 inside the 10? As piss-poor as Leak has been on third down and given that his re-entry is a clear signal the play will be pass? Methinks I.P.U. looks quite fallible on this one.
--Sure enough, Leak triple-pumps, loses the ball, and Tray Blackmon scoops up the alleged fumble, taking it back to the Auburn 38. Two thoughts on this one:

1. Since college has no “Tuck Rule,” once Leak quits passing and tries to bring the ball back under control, if he loses it, it’s a fumble. That’s what the JCCW feels happened: it’s quite clear that Blackmon never touched the ball, but it’s also my opinion that Leak was trying to tuck the ball again when he lost control, making it a fumble, and a good call. Or at the very least, the kind of call you can hardly blame the replay official for not finding “indisputable evidence” upon which to reverse the call on the field.
2. That said? Auburn was still hella fortunate. The Tigers have had two giant either-way calls in their two giant games both go their way. Neither one guaranteed Auburn’s opponents a damn thing, and neither one gives the Auburn-haters a reason to start whining. But we can be honest here: Yes, Auburn has been fortunate. We can also say: It happens. Get over it.

--Credit to the Auburn O: they stall again, this time at the Florida 28. But only after a massive third-and-4 conversion, Cox to Dunn for 14 yards, and an equally massive fourth-and-1 conversion from Lester. Still no touchdowns as of 3:16 left in the game, but this hasn’t been the 2002 Georgia game (when the Auburn O went three-and-out for what seemed like 223 consecutive second-half possessions, allowing the Dawgs shot after shot at a tiring D) all over again, by a long shot.
--V****n lines up for a 46-yard FG that will remove the stigma of his LSU performance … well, not once and for all, but at least diminish it to the point where Auburn fans can feel like they can trust him again. It’s up, and it has all the leg in the world.

It’s wide.

J**n m***********g V****n, I f******g swear.

--You know, I’ve said multiple times over the last few years that Leak was the best pure QB in the SEC. That he’s been undone by poor coaching, program upheaval, inadequate line play, etc. But there is no excuse for the dreadful pick he throws on first down here, a complete duck off the heel of his back foot directly into the less-generous arms of Eric Brock. Too bad for Leak. Now, if you’ll excuse a moment of less-analytical fandom …


--Borges predictably sends three runs into the line to whittle the clock away, and now V****n steps up to force the Gators to score a miracle touchdown to win. It’s from a full 39 yards out … he got it! That’s 13 of Auburn’s 21 points, on 4-of-5 field goals, with the only miss coming from 46 … for, OK, John Vaughn.

(For the time being.)

--Florida takes over and dithers about. Tubby takes off his glasses with three plays left, though … seems a bit premature. NO, CRAP! A shot of Tubby with 5 seconds to play shows they’ve already Gatoraded him! Didn’t they see what happened to Kentucky a few years back when they gave Guy Morris a premature shower? Auburn is begging for a Florida Hail Mary, just begging for it.
--Whew! I was right that there would be a touchdown on the last play … but it’s Auburn’s, as Leak caps his horror-show second half by fumbling a lateral and allowing Patrick Lee to stroll in for a touchdown and the most flattering score in the history of flattering scores, 27-17. That breaking sound you heard, by the way, was all the gamblers who bet the “Under” collectively tossing things through their collective windows.

YES! 27-17 … how did that even happen? Give Tubby the blame last week, but give him the credit this week … another top 10 opponent, and yet another massive win. It’s the roller coaster I think very few Auburn fans mind not getting off of. In the meantime … Go Ole Miss!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please show me where in the NCAA rules it talks about tuck.