Sunday, October 08, 2006

Auburn-Arkansas recap. Only for the strong of heart.

Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, All Blogging, All Dancing Sunday kicks off with recap of the Auburn-Arkansas game. I would say “Enjoy,” but I’m afraid for AU fans this is going to be more like Puritan self-flagellation than anything else. Treat yourself to a bag of chips afterward, guys.


CRAIG BOLERJACK: Welcome to SEC football on CBS! Today, the Arkansas Razorbacks are going to take on the No. 2, second-ranked, behind-only-Ohio-St.-and-no-one-else Auburn Tigers!
STEVE BEUERLEIN: That’s right, Craig! No. 2 in the only poll that matters kind-of, the Associated Press! And we’ve got a fired-up capacity crowd on hand to support their Tigers!
BOLERJACK: Folks, if you want to know why the SEC is the best conference in the nation, you need to just take one look at these fans. Understand that they were out until 2 a.m. last night drinking, then got up and got back on that horse at 6 a.m. for today’s 11 a.m. kickoff. It’s called Commitment, and that’s why this the best league in the country.

--Tubby, as usual, leads the Tigers out of the tunnel through the Fog of Intimidation.

TUBBY: Click! Cla … *hacking cough* …Click … *wheeze, sputter* … Clack … *rasping, lung-sucking coughs and heaves* … Damn chemical fog!

--Weird, the broadcast isn’t coming through in HD. Hope that’s not a bad omen or anything!


--First snap from scrimmage: Irons for 11. Second snap: easy completion from Cox to Smith for 11. Man, this is gonna be simple! Think we’ll cover the spread by 63, or 64 points?
--Third snap: Uh, oops. Tommy “Not a Blocking Tight End” Trott gets annihilated by Hogs DE Jamaal Anderson, sack of Tre Smith before he can get off the wide-open throwback pass to Cox. Punt.
--Bliss uncorks his worst punt of the season, a line-drive 30-yarder that results in a net of 22. But hey, at least we know a player of Bliss’s caliber won’t ever make such a mistake twice in the same game!
--Beuerlein helpfully tells Razorback fans that if the name “Gus Malzahn” is familiar to them, it’s because he was Mitch Mustain’s coach at state-championship team Springfield High. That noise you heard was the entire state of Arkansas collectively going “NOOOOOOO, really?” at the same time.
--Speaking of Beuerlein, his keys to the game are listed in a graphics package called “Above the Lein,” which apparently tested better than their second choice, “Feel the Beuern.”
--Jones rips off gains of 11 and 28 and comes within one Mitch Mustain pass (that’s an adjective meaning “bad” there, not just who threw it … watch, I’ll show you what I mean later) of scoring on a screen. 12 plays, 66 yards, 3-0. Nice to know those defensive kinks from last week got worked out.
--Time for a drive of our own in response, right? Or, time for new center Jason Bosley to get shoved backwards onto his ass and have Irons tackled for a loss of three on first down. Three-and-out. Punt.
--CBS puts up a graphic detailing the statistical wonderfulness of Auburn’s D. Guys? They got torched like Anakin Skywalker’s funeral pyre last week and were only saved from giving up a TD on their first possession by the Hogs’ QB Mustaining from throwing a decent pass (har har har). Take the graphic down, please. For our karma’s sake.
--Too late. Third-and-six from the 50, a Tiger blitz forces the freshman into throwing a Mitch Mustain pass, an awful wobbler (see?), but 17th-year senior Marcus Monk does his Marcus Monk thing and steals the ball away from a rusty-looking Wilhite. He scores. I swear Monk scored the same way against us back when his quarterback was Clint Stoerner.
--In an attempt to get the offense going, Bosley and Cox botch the exchange. Bosley’s debut at starting center is going “swimmingly,” if what he’s swimming across is a pool filled with starving polar bears.
--At least Brad Lester came to play. He hits some poor Hog so hard his helmet flies off, causing the Auburn sideline to go appropriately nuts. This is the running back equivalent of shattering the backboard on a dunk, no?
--First down on the Hog 21, and I never thought I’d say this: Gorgeous Al Borges appears to be in something of a play-calling rut. Run on first down, the same play-action boot left on second down we saw several times last week and have seen twice already this game. Not surprisingly, it’s now third-and-13.

Second quarter

--Well, all’s well that ends well. Cox hits Smith for the huge TD. Man, [joke involving automobiles on how incredibly “clutch” Cox is on third-and-long redacted due to final outcome]. 10-7.
--Clark sends the kickoff out-of-bounds. I think this is probably a worse omen than the TV difficulties.
--Tee hee! Arkansas undoes a first-down run by McFadden with a five-yard procedure penalty, punts two plays later. Worried for a second there, but now everything’s fine. Watch, we’re going to score.
--OK, after Dunn has Auburn fans everywhere scheduling a visit to their cardiologist by making no attempt whatsoever to recover what appears to be his own muff on the punt (it had hit the back of a Hog player). I should probably say something about Arkansas punter Jacob Skinner and his pre-punt pseudo-Maori Haka routine, but I just don’t think I can add anything to make this more funny than it already is.
--Irons, in case you’ve forgotten since the LSU game, is a Man. He singlehandedly takes Auburn from their own 17 to the Arkansas 39.
--Again, hard to question Borges, but is an end-around with Tommy “I SAID, Not A Blocking Tight End” Trott really the best playcall at his disposal? Loss of three.
--On second down, Cox declines to avail himself of the easy check-down in order to take a five-yard sack. One would assume he did that just to challenge himself to make his usual miracle third-down or fourth-down conversion, but his fourth-down scramble comes up three yards short. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s a 14-play, 50-yard drive that took 6:56 off the clock and resulted in no points. Yay.
--And now McFadden breaks free for a 63-yard touchdown. Four Hog possessions, none of them starting in Auburn territory, 17 points. Hey, remember way back, when Auburn’s defense was really good? When we’d have guys like Will Herring, David Irons, and Quentin Groves flying all over the field, and we could do things like holding LSU to three friggin’ points? Man, those were the days.
--Brad Lester makes a terrible decision, choosing to return the kickoff from seven yards deep in his own end zone. He then makes an excellent decision, choosing to return it 68 yards to the Hog 32.
--J***n V****n hits the 36-yard field goal, and I temporarily consider giving him his name back, since I think I promised to when he hit a 30-plus yarder in a game Auburn could lose—and this sure as hell qualifies. But I’m not going to, since I think I’m retroactively changing the rules to state that he gets his name back when he step onto the field and I’m not filled with the overwhelming sense of mortal dread and paralyzing apprehension he’s given me since that game. And after the LSU 2006 honk, he’s still got a ways to go.
--17-10 at the half. That’s all right, now Auburn can regroup, give Borges and Tubby and Muschamp time to make adjustments, and come out for the second half fired-up and ready to take the game over.



Third quarter

--Hmm, McFadden for eight yards on second down. Hmm, Jones for seven yards on first down. Can we get a second halftime? I think Spencer Tillman had more to gibber incomprehensibly say.
--The D does rise up and force a punt, which is nice. The Sun-God-Worshipper boots it pointlessly into the end zone, which is nice. Then Auburn goes three-and-out after an totally unblocked Hog nails Irons for a loss on first down and Cox takes yet another sack on third down. Not nice. Not nice at all.
--Bliss is ordered to do the “maybe the fake will be there, if not, rugby punt it” roll-out routine, looks three separate times like he’s about to pull the trigger on the fake, and then spazzes himself into a 19-yard punt. I think you just killed your average, Kody.
--Nutt out-Tubbies Tubby, calling up a weirdo pseudo-Fumble Rooskie that takes the ball to the Auburn six. We’re probably not going to cover that spread, are we guys?
--Herring totally whiffs on a goal-line tackle of Jones, who walks in. 24-10. You have to think that’s going to hurt Herring’s Heisman chances.
--Irons and Lester are on a two-man mission. Call it Operation Don’t Play Like Utter and Complete Crap. It’s second-and-17, and Irons picks up the first down on the draw. He deserves better than to be down 14 points and probably phased out of the game if Auburn does anything but score a touchdown on this drive.
--WHAT IS COURTNEY TAYLOR DOING? Cox lofts up the longball for him, and in the middle of his route, Taylor does a quick stutter-step worthy of “Breakin’” for no apparent reason. Then the sure touchdown bounces off his fingertips. Man, who replaced the Gatorade in the coolers with Suck Juice?
--Auburn does not, in fact, score a touchdown on this drive. The four-play sequence from first-and-10 at the Arkansas 36: 1. Pass to Tommy “I May Not Be Much of a Pass-Catching Tight End, Either” Trott, loss of two; rush by Irons, gain of eight (of course); horrendous-looking botched snap courtesy of Bosley and Cox, loss of five (Irons recovers); and a sack in which Cox decides to roll right, out of the nicely-forming pocket, into the waiting arms of an Arkansas lineman. Loss of 10. I’m so glad CBS decided to show this game to a national audience. So, so glad.
--Consider this about that possession: it covered 39 yards. Kenny Irons gained 31 of those in three plays. The passing game gained 8 of them in seven plays. You do the math.

Fourth quarter

--The defense holds. Does Auburn actually have a glimmer of life in this game?
--First down: Cox throws a Mitch Mustain pass. Second: Lester for four. Third: Screen to Lester undone by an excellent play by Olajabutu. Fourth: punt. So no, no they don’t. I guess they have life in the “Yes, it’s still technically within the realm of possibly discussing the mathematical probability of a miraculous comeback” sense, so let’s say they have life in the way prions have life.
--Not even that anymore. Matt Jones breaks free on an option for 56 yards and…wait, sorry, the flashbacks to 2001/2002 overwhelmed me a bit there. I mean, Davis kicks a short field goal to make it 27-10 after McFadden and Jones continue to use the Auburn defense as a treadmill. That’s it.
--Because he hates us all, Kody Bliss punts the ball 58 yards after Auburn’s last possession. Up yours, Kody.

Let the drowning of the sorrows and gnashing of teeth commence!

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