Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cotton Bowl recap, half the second

So maybe I should say something about the month-long unannounced hiatus I took from the blog. See, it … what’s that? You’re not in the least bit interested, unless it involved being attacked by sharks, or maybe being kidnapped by Nepalese bandits and escaping by climbing over the Himalayas to India? I don’t blame you. Though I did have a nice metaphor involving juggling planned.

Without further ado, part two of the JCCW’s Cotton Bowl recap. Part one is here.

Third quarter

--Tubby tells Krista Voda that during the layoff, his staff added too much to the gameplan and that his team was confused in the first half. In the second half, he says “We’re going to play football.” As opposed to, say, Scrabble, though Al Borges totally would have had a 50-point bonus word if they hadn’t switched over.
--Tristan Davis, recovered from his first-half wooziness, makes what seems like his 67th consecutive dangerous-looking 40-yard return. When was the last time Auburn had a consistently good kickoff return team? I’m going with “1963, or possibly never, depending on how you define consistent.”
--Courtney Taylor is tackled on a blown-up reverse by Nebraska’s Jay Moore. Apparently this is not the Jay Mohr of ESPN’s “Mohr Sports” … well, “fame” isn’t exactly the right word here, is it? Of ESPN’s “Mohr Sports” “disgracefulness” is probably closer to the truth.
--After about five plays of Irons and Taylor eking out yardage despite being greeted by eight Huskers before thy even reach the line of scrimmage, Irons fights a little too hard for that extra yard (as is his wont) and coughs it up. Huskers’ ball.
--Fox gives us the obligatory Bo Jackson montage—always a delight—capped by Summerall saying that Al Davis told him Bo was the best ever. Well, duh. Summerall then rattles off a list of great backs he played alongside meaning, of course, that no one he mentions is remotely familiar to anyone in his audience. Well done, Pat.
--Quentin Groves’s go-go-gadget arms actually backfire on him on a Husker run as he grabs a facemask inadvertently from six feet away.
--Will Herring, as everyone knows, didn’t always make the play during his previous 356 consecutive starts. Apparently he was saving them for his 357th and final consecutive start—he’s made several, including a tackle-for-loss here that helps force a Nebraska punt.
--Cox goes deep to Taylor on 1st-and-10, and Taylor somewhat surprisingly throws his arms up in a “Hey! That slight brush from the defender deserves to be called pass interference!” way rather than in a “I’m interested in possibly catching the ball” way. Taylor gets the flag, but not without karma telling him to knock it off by comically sending the flag into his facemask. I'm laughing, but Orlando Brown, wherever he is, is less than amused.
--Miracle of miracles, the line gives Cox some time to throw over the next several plays, and whaddya know, turns out he’s still capable of completing passes! Who’d have guessed?
--2nd-and-1 on the Nebraska 19, Cox airs it out for Lee Guess. He and Husker CB Grixby come down with the ball simultaneously, both get one foot in the end zone, Guess comes out of their mini-tussle with the ball. The call is incomplete. Before now, I would have called Fox’s broadcast a train wreck, but now I think that’s doing a disservice to the organization and orderliness of train wrecks. First, before we get even a replay, we get a brief shot—I’m not even joking—of what appear to be the hands of Nebraska’s majorettes holding paper plates with pizza (their faces aren’t even part of the shot). Why is there a camera even devoted to recording this? Then Fox gives us a single replay which is briefly discussed by Summerall and Baldinger before they go off on a tangent about the game’s attendance. With some rebel neuron in the back of his brain firing off about maybe, you know, analyzing the potential game-changing play, Summerall does apologize of the attendance tangent. “Sorry to be talking,” he says. We’re all sorry you’ve been talking, Pat.
--A strong Irons run to the 15 gives Auburn a first-down. From there, it’s incomplete pass-holding penalty-377th consecutive failed screen-incomplete pass. Which means … drumroll please … hypertension medication on the ready …
--It’s John Vaughn time! It’s a 42-yarder in a tight game, which means the odds on a make are 1 to 40 if we’re being generous. (But oh, come on, what Auburn fan has been generous with Vaughn since that game? Maybe when I gave him his name back, and that’s it.) Surprisingly enough—yes, it’s still a surprise—Vaughn nails it. Might be his last Auburn figgie ever. Good for him. One of these years, I bet, Auburn fans’ll look back and say “You know, when you think about it, he was actually a pretty good kicker.” (Note that I don’t see 2007 as that year.)
--Nebraska’s next possession, and Taylor rolls right under heavy pressure and throws back across his body 20 yards downfield into a nest of Auburn defenders. Remarkably, the pass is completed. Fine with me—I’d like to see Taylor try that trick again, seeing as how that trick gets intercepted 99 times out of 100.
--Herring is doing his absolute best to make sure Auburn fans seeing him for the last time remember him as Will Herring, All Over The Place Tackling Machine Linebacker, rather than Will Herring, Always in the Wrong Place Touchdown (for the Opponent) Machine Safety. His tackle-for-loss of Lucky helps lead to a long, long field goal try.
--Nevermind. It’s a pooch (is that even the way to spell it?) kick that gets downed at the 1. Those aren’t supposed to work, are they?
--Baldinger’s analysis has been nothing but cliché after cliché today (along with the occasional inability to get Summerall out of 1977), but he still misses a chance to deliver the ol’ “This is what happens when you give a quarterback some time and some confidence” when Cox completes back-to-back throws—the second under very heavy pressure, his best toss of the day—to get AU from the 1 to the 17. A few downs later, the Tigers have crossed midfield. Crucial change of field position in a game with as few drives as this one.

Fourth quarter

--Ben Tate finds a huge hole on the toss right and rumbles for 21 yards. That’s great, but sheesh, poor Irons is playing his last game for AU ever, and every time his number’s been called he’s had to step around two or three defenders just to take the handoff—including on the very next down, which is a loss of three. Spread the wealth, line!
--3rd-and-11 and we’re back to Cox taking a five-step-two-steps-right-to-avoid-the-defensive-end-four-steps-up-in-terror-one-step-under-the-approaching-tackler-to-save-his-neck drop. So no points, but—especially after Bliss sticks it at the NU 8—that was nonetheless the most important drive of the game. Hopefully the O will at least be able to look the D in the eyes again as they come off the field.
--There’s a holding penalty on a Brando first down run. Too bad—that drive could have been a contender. (Look, I’m sorry. It’s uncalled for. I agree. I apologize.)
--Thanks to the penalty, five plays take Nebraska all the way from their own 8 to their own 11. Auburn’s D is in one of their moods again. Like when they just went off on Florida in the second half for no reason? Poor Nebraska should probably just leave them alone for a while.
--As Auburn takes over Voda interviews the Irons family patriarch, who proudly informs Voda that they never leave the bleachers while the game is on. Not even to go to the bathroom? No, Mr. Irons says they “man up and hold out.” Well, I’m glad to know that. So glad. I'm even gladder when Summerall brings it back up after the interview.
--The offense has great field position and a touchdown will clinch the win! So they go three-and-out and Bliss booms the punt into the end zone. It wouldn’t just be an Auburn Tigers 2006 game if things came easy, would it?
--David Irons and the Auburn secondary are on fire. 3rd-and-11, Taylor gets enough time behind the line to crochet himself a new jersey. (Wait, that’s Ian Johnson.) He ends up eating a sack anyway. Punt.
-- The offense has great field position and a touchdown will clinch the win! Well, barring a touchdown, a first down will run some crucial time off the clock! Well, it’s 3rd-and-12, but Bliss is a good punter, so … Cox fumbles the ball away. AAAARRRGGGHHHH.
--Bill Callahan calls three straight runs that surprise an Auburn defense expecting the Huskers to be more aggressive, getting a first down. Then Callahan calls two more runs and a horrible-looking shuffle pass to put his team in fourth-and-long with zero chance of getting the ball back with any time if they fail to convert. Whoops.
--They fail to convert. Whoops. Also: Auburn wins! Sweet!
--One first down ends the game, and damned if Kenny Irons doesn’t make his last three runs worth remembering him by. He gets next-to-no-blocking on any of them and fights for nine-and-three-quarters yards anyway. Thanks for going out the right way, Kenny.
--Callahan cleverly sends all 11 players after the punt, even though the two guys rushing off the very left end cleverly do nothing but get in each other’s way. This cleverly allows Auburn to just watch the ball roll along while all but the last 10 seconds run off the clock. So clever, that Bill Callahan.
--The Hail Mary falls incomplete and Auburn are Cotton Bowl champs, but in such mind-numbing fashion (178 total yards! Five sacks! 1.9 yards per rush! No touchdown drive longer than 14 yards!) that it will fortunately not give Auburn any kind of bump in next season’s pre-season poll. In other words, the best possible outcome!

Well, saying it wasn’t pretty is like saying Tony Romo had kind of a disappointing weekend, but given what I was expecting, boy, I’ll take it. Very, very glad for the Ironses, Herring, Taylor, and all the other seniors to walk off the field for the last time as winners.

The long, long-awaited Iron Bowl recap and some thoughts on the season as a whole should be up later in the week. Should be.

1 comment:

tpraja said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.