Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wish List: Florida

Fannin indicates precisely whose help Auburn's going to need to win tonight.

Not too many folks read the JCCW on Saturdays. There are better things to do, obviously ... though I've tried taking on the multi-headed, terrifying corporate beast that is Gameday these days this a.m., and I'm not sure it qualifies.

But for those few diehards looking for something to bide their time 'til kickoff, here this week's Wish List.

When Auburn has the ball

1. That the Tigers convert on third down. Joe Blow at the new Auburn blog If Pigskins Could Fly took a terrific up-close look at the Auburn O's third-down conversions yesterday which, if you haven't heard, have to happen about twice as often just to reach "not cripplingly terrible." Blow finds that while the Auburn offense isn't necessarily predictable on any individual play call, it has been very predictable when it comes to selecting a run or pass based on down-and-distance. I'll let Joe sum up:
I'm not one to put all of the blame on Borges. Five of the missed conversions were sacks, but that doesn't compare to 31 incompletions and 2 interceptions out of 36 passes! Who's to blame there? Cox? The receivers for not getting open, and dropping balls when they do? Borges for calling a pass play on nearly all third down and five plus yards situations? I'm going with all of the above. Something needs to change.

I would also go with "all of the above," and there's no week this needs to change more than this one. Auburn is not going to win this game 34-31. It's going to have to be the same sort of grind the 2006 win was, a 17-14 slugfest, and the AU defense is not going to be able to hold an offense like Florida's to that sort of point total if they don't have as much rest as the offense can possily give them. Three-and-outs = Tebow crushing skulls and death coming far too slowly for that kind of pain. Auburn's offense must stay on the field for the Tigers to have even a whisper of a prayer.

2. That if Auburn's going to turn the ball over, for God's sake that they do it in Florida territory. Sticking with the "the offense's No. 1 goal is to help the defense" theme, Auburn cannot give up short fields. The Tiger defense can hold (well, within reason) if not exhausted and if given enough chances to force a stop on a given drive. If Florida starts at their own 20 or in a further hole, a defense with Sims, Savage, a hopefully learned-his-lesson Groves and a hopefully halfway healthy Blackmon can probably manage a punt by, say, midfield. If the Gators start in Auburn territory, it's going to be points.

Do I have faith in the Auburn offense not to turn the ball over? Not really. But if they could at least wait until they cross midfield to do so, it would help mightily.

3. That they keep going deep. Ole Mis showed last week the Gators could be burned downfield, and if given enough chances Auburn's receivers have to catch one, don't they? Law of averages, right?

When Florida has the ball

1. That Auburn makes them work. Florida is going to put a few scores on the board. It's going to happen, inevitable as the sunrise and fans joking "I knew we were done/I knew we would win as soon as Corso picked us/picked against us." Tebow and Meyer, sad to say, are like that.

But if Auburn can make them work--make the drive the field, earn the hard yards, grind Tebow into the mixer--I wonder if that offense can hold up 100 percent to the beating Sims, Blackmon, etc. are capable of dishing out. Tebow's a great passer, that's obvious; what's less obvious is if he's still a great passer in the fourth quarter of a game he's been beat up in. I know it's usually the offense wearing out the D than vice versa, but after Tebow played the bull in the china shop last week I'm just not sure he can do it again and stay as efficient as he's shown to date. To make that happen, Auburn has to limit big plays and make the Gators invest heavily--and hey, maybe too heavily--in the points they earn.

2. That Auburn stays disciplined. Yes, I'm talking to you, Quentin. The way to stop big plays is to stay fundamnetally sound and play your position and all that old coaching mularkey that in this case happens to really be that essential. Auburn can't afford to gamble while looking for a huge play--still looking at you, Quentin--bust, and hand Florida their own huge play. That, friends, is the fast track to 47-10.

3. That Auburn doesn't kick to Brandon James. Just don't do it, Auburn. Unless you want this sort of thing to happen.

Best of luck, Tigers. I'm afraid, tonight, you'll need it.

War Eagle.


Anonymous said...

    I've increasingly used the internet on gameday, when I'm home. A TV window, a scoreboard tab, RSS feeds, it's a whole new way of keeping up. Can't beat it!

    Astute post. We have to do like last year, and keep knocking out those first downs. Plus, you know how it's going to go. UF will have trouble, and Tebow will try to take it on all himself. We may get torched, but we'll have the satisfaction of seeing what Tebow has left for LSU...

Acid Reign

Anonymous said...

War Eagle! What a classic that was. Even during a rough season, games like tonights game keep you coming back. We're now officially the SEC wildcard. We can rain on anybodies parade. Sometimes it's just a whole lot of fun being the underdog. Florida just knew, knew as sure as the sun would rise tomorrow, that they had this one in the bag before the first snap. I thought they did too, but I've watched enough of these games to know that Auburn has a way of turning it up when nobody thinks they can. I think Cox really made this one happen. Of course the D was magnificent, but we actually had an O show up at this game, so that had to help.

Pat said...

I think Carl Stewart's blocking and two clucth catchs deserve some mention. Heck of a game for the seniors - Groves, Cox and Stewart.

War Eagle!

Jerry Hinnen said...

AR, I find myself a little too distracted by the Internet if I try to multitask like that ... I end up reading about the things I'm watching rather than just watching them! I'm envious.

Pat, agreed that Stewart was unbelievable. Don't leave out Smith, who caught everything Cox threw at him. Really, every single player had their best game of the season, which is what it takes to pull off an upset like this.

War Eagle, anon.