Monday, October 01, 2007
And there was much rejoicing: Florida recap, Half the Second
Well, not on both sidelines, so much. Don't worry, WunderTim: Mike Patrick will be down shortly to help make it all better.
This is the second half of the JCCW's Florida recap. For the first half, click here or scroll down.
--Even with the help of my trusty DVR I can't see who it is (and curiously the official PBP is no help), but someone just made the Guiness book of records for World's Most Obvious Block in the Back. Seriously, the Gator blocked was the first guy down the field, standing directly in front of the returner. Mr. Magoo would have called it. The resulting field position + three-and-out = Florida starting on their own 45.
--It's bombs away to Harvin on first down and suddenly it's first-and-goal from the 3. But Marks--who is having a flat ridonkulous game to this point--somehow drags WunderTim down for a four-yard loss on first down. Two plays later the Gators decide they're not going to succeed in blocking Quentin Groves anyway, so they're just going to focus on those other guys and let Groves come in unimpeded. It's a smart allocation of resources, really, when you think about it, right up until the point WunderTim throws up a duck as Groves bodyslams him to the turf. 9 times out of 10 that's a devastating pick, but instead Patrick raves about WunderTim's bionic arm and the Gators luckily sneak off with three points.
--Good, Davis just limped off after the kickoff. Good, this possession goes incompletion-incompletion-sack. Good, at least Shoemaker--another guy who has been good beyond belief this game--gets the bounce and earns a 54-yard net on his punt. That's a sincere "Good" there.
--Also good? The wonderful scales of karmic justice. Spared the shoulda-been interception before, WunderTim is ne'er so lucky the second time as he goes deep down the sideline only for receiver Riley Cooper to, well, it looks like he thought he saw something shiny in the middle of the field. Quarter, maybe? If it was one of those Sacajawea dollars, that'd be cool. In the meantime, Lee picks off the pass.
--It's not just Cox. Rod Smith makes the best play by an Auburn receiver this season, twisting his leg in Gumby-like fashion to slip his foot just inside the sideline and give Auburn a huge 17-yard completion to the Gator 31. Who are you, and what have you done with Auburn? And will you stay the rest of the season? I've got a few paperbacks you can borrow, a stamp-card from the ice cream place down the street you guys can have that's, like, only two stamps away from being full. If somebody starts a pool, I'll totally chip in five bucks. Maybe even 10.
--Fannin for 14. Fannin for 11. First-and-goal. Our o-line is just crushing--oops, Tate for minus-3. Oops, Burns in for the Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw (tm MGo) that loses five. Oops, incompletion. At least Byrum is money and it's 17-3 Tigers.
--I'm just going to cut-and-paste this in from the official PBP, because it looks so beautiful written like this: "F 3-1 F44 [S0], Tebow, T. rush over left guard for no gain to the UF44 (Pat Sims)." Third and a yard, Tebow, no gain, Sims. Awesome. Florida tries to fake punt their way to the first, but they're playing Silly Gators again and get flagged for motion. Auburn gets the ball up 17-3 with 4:03 in the third. Things could not be going better.
--On first down, Tate fumbles it away on Auburn's 38. Tate fumbles it away on Auburn's 38. NO, DAMMIT. Listen, Ben: when the only reason you're getting the majority of carries is because the guy behind you is a fumbler, it's a good idea not to fumble.
--WunderTim wastes little WunderTime. He passes for 9, runs for 11, converts a 3rd-and-7 with a 10-yarder to Harvin, catches a break when Powers draws a flag on what might have been an uncatchable ball (though I'm less sold than Patrick), and it's first-and-goal from the 2. He goes nowhere on first, nowhere on second, and the drama is Picket Fences-quality as we head into the ...
--Which starts with the Silly Gators committing a false start to put them at the 6. Unfortunately, Muschamp has one of his rare episodes of mental flatulence and dials up a blitz that leaves Auburn in man-to-man. Knowing Florida's going to pass and knowing a zone is hell in that confined a space (just ask Cox following the finale to the MSU game), why press? Ingram runs the simplest of out patterns and WunderTim makes the simplest of passes for the simplest of touchdowns. Ack. 17-10.
--Groves is gone. He's on crutches, off to the locker room. When even Rowe describes a player's reaction to a simple examination as "freaking out (in pain)," you know he's done. That street the Auburn defense's bus drove down in the preseason, the one with black cats running across it and mirrors spilled in the way of the tires and the giant ladder leaning across it? Let's not drive down that one next year.
--Don't look now, but the offense is suddenly all Brandon Cox and is all predictable as all-get-out. Auburn runs eight plays this possession, five of them passes, three runs. All three runs come on first down, all five passes on second and third. The runs go for a total of -1 yards, the passes for 24. It's not enough, and Auburn punts (Shoemaker again: he knocks it out of bounds at the 9, has to kick again post penalty, and pins them at the 11. Bravo).
--Florida drives all 89 yards without even needing a third-down conversion. WunderTim either throws or rushes for every yard. 32 of them come on a deep pass Lee has covered perfectly, only for Harvin to go up like a Looney Tune with springs on his shoes and come down with a foot just inside the stripe. It's pretty much 2-on-11: Tebow and Harvin vs. the world. But Florida's two are just so supremely, ungodly talented and the offense is so geared to that talent it makes no difference. 17-17. Come on, Auburn.
--First-and-10: Fannin for two. But hey, a nifty fake-end-around gets Stewart wide-open for 18, out to the Auburn 40. First-and-10: Fannin for one. STOP DOING THAT. Cox is sacked on second down. On third down Evil Brandon surfaces, as he throws a completely hopeless ball across his body towards the center of the field. It falls to the ground only by the grace of an off-balance Gator batting it away from the perfectly-positioned Gator behind him. The wheels, friends, are wholly and completely off the Auburn offense, and we're watching them spin forlornly down the road.
--And yet things get worse: an official standing mere yards away flags Brock for catch interference when he obviously pulled up and waited for James to make the catch, then tagged him. Tubby goes appropriately Lou Piniella on the officials, and I think it's their subtle admission that he's got a point that they don't flag him, too. (Yes, Patrick said they'd flagged Tubby coming out of the commercial break. But look: the ball was caught on the 27. Florida starts on the 42. 42-27 = 15, not 30, i.e. a single penalty. But we shouldn't ask Patrick to be capable of such dexterous mathematical skills as "subtraction," I suppose.) Nonetheless Florida has every drop of momentum. For a quarter now, Auburn has been powerless to stop them on either side of the ball. This game is all but lost.
--And just one play later--the single most important play of this game, without argument, if you ask yours truly--it isn't. Florida runs their flanker screen to Harvin, who sees Thompson and Sims barreling towards him from the center of the field and tries to cut behind them. But Marks is waiting to collar him by the shoulder pad and drop him for a loss of six. Fantastic play all-around by the defensive line. Auburn is breathing again.
--Mullen calls a horrid-looking option on 2nd-and-long (really, you're going to try to run outside now?) and now it's third-and-long. The pass is incomplete as Sims roars through the middle of the line! The punt is a 25-yard shank! Holy crap! Auburn has it at their own 39 and needs just 30 yards to give Byrum an decent shot ... a touchdown, no, but 30 yards? I believe. Let's go, Auburn. War Eagle.
--Tate for 1. Cox throws a sharp slant to Smith for 10 and a first down. Tate for 1. (I still believe, but seriously, this is 12 straight first-and-10 runs and the last seven have gone for two yards or less.) Cox to Rodriguez for 6. 3rd-and-3. Tate on the pitch left for five yards and the first down! Pugh cleared out and the Gators were clearly expecting run. Gold star for Borges with that call.
--This is the second biggest play of the game: Auburn isn't in field goal range just yet at the 38, but the right side of the line--Bosley, Ramsey, Zimeba, Bennett--get a major push and Stewart (as he has done relentlessly all game) plows his guy at the point of attack. Tate carries hard for 8. The ball's on the 30. Barring disaster, it's on Byrum now.
--Tate for 1. Tate for 2, first down, the clock will run and Auburn will kick on the final play. Tate for 1. All these plays happen one after the other, a blur. And now Byrum is on the field.
--Even before Blackledge starts explaining what's happeneing, I know Byrum will have to make the kick twice--or just once, if it's the second time. The first one flies through as the whistles blow, and I don't know whether to be confident now that he's shown he can do it or less confident since that might have been the only one he has in him.
--The kick is up. It's good from the moment it gets over the line.
--YEEEEESSSSSSS! YES! AUBURN WINS! I worry, for a brief moment, about the neighbor trying to sleep. Screw 'em. WAR DAMN EAGLE!
The list of heroes is well-nigh endless. The d-line, who were warriors. Chris Evans, who was all over the place. The secondary never missed a tackle. The receivers were the steady, make-the-catch-and-get-what-you-can performers we dreamed about entering Week 1. The Five New Guys up front played a better game than maybe any the oh-so-experienced front line of 2006 put together. Tate ran with every ounce of effort he had. Fannin never lost a fumble.
But mostly: Tubby somehow got this group of kids--yes, kids, this year even more than most--to believe they could go from losing to Miss. St. and trailing to NMSU to defeating Florida in the Swamp. And then got them to go out and do it. How, I don't know.
And: Brandon made his Leap. May he never come down again.