Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wish List: Arkansas

More of this, please.

True fact: Auburn record before I started writing Wish Lists: 1-2. Auburn record since: 3-0. Of course, I don't want to take all the credit. Tommy Tuberville has done a fine, fine job these last few weeks. He can have some, too.

One wish for the team as a whole before offense/defense-specific ones ...

1. That Auburn simply keeps the gravy train rollin'. Looking back at our previous surprise beatdowns this decade at the hands of the Hogs, I made a surprising discovery. (Well, surprising to me. But a lot of things are. 42 cents for a stamp? When the hell did that happen?!?)I sort of hazily recalled that this year's potential scenario--early loss, huge win over Vandy gets team overconfident, Arkansas runs for a yardage total so embarrassing the coaches mothers won't speak to them afterwards and wins by a bajillion--had been what led to the other routs, but it turns out Auburn hadn't really been so impressive the week prior in any of the three cases:

1. 2001: W, vs. La. Tech, 48-41 (OT) -- 42-17 L to Hogs
2. 2002: W, vs. Syracuse, 37-34 (OT again) -- 38-17 L to Hogs
3. 2006: W, vs. South Carolina, 24-17 -- 27-10 L to Hogs

Which makes me wonder: Looking back, why on earth did any of those Arkansas "upsets" come as so much of a shock? Sure, we'd gotten some huge wins early in each of those seasons (2002 somewhat excluded, though they had taken both Vandy and Miss. St. to the woodshed), but clearly the implosions vs. the Hogs were simple continuations of the somewhere-well-south-of-dominant performances the week before. (I was there in person for both the La. Tech and 'Cuse games, and I still remember them clearly enough to assure you those teams were, to put it politely, complete garbage. The Carolina game last year was a little better, but our low-fat shredded defense found salvation solely through the generosity of Tubby's daring onsides kickeration.)

So, if Auburn's merely continued sucking was to blame for those earlier catastrophes, it stands to reason that continued success could be responsible for a solid W today, right? That's all I ask, Auburn--just keep the foot on the gas pedal. Easier said than done, I know, but the history here suggests that however close said pedal is to the floor entering the Arkansas game is where it stays, so I'm not asking that much, am I?

When Auburn has the ball

2. That Dunlap plays like a man.
Your name is King Dunlap. You are a senior, our only one of consequence. You have NFL talent, NFL size. And yet you have been benched, hurt, ridiculed, and forgotten as a whole gaggle of fresh-faced kids who still get excited when they order their own delivery pizza have made you look, well, extraneous. Unnecessary. An insurance policy.

But there's been another injury and now you're back. If you have any pride, if you are the sort of lineman I still think you can be and which Auburn needs you to be, you are going to come out and show us today how short-sighted that viewpoint is. And if you don't--if you don't seize this opportunity by its vulnerable throat and make someone pay for what's happened to you thus far this season--you will deserve your future spot back on the sideline.

3. That they still get Tate his touches.
Oh, I'm still looking for Lester any time Auburn gets inside the 30. All those beautiful touchdown-to-carry ratios he's built the last two seasons haven't been by accident. But Tate, it's looked to me, has blossomed into a bona fide hoss these last two weeks: running harder, hitting the hole quicker, fighting for yards when he could glide out of bounds. A reward is in order, particularly if said progression, thus encouraged, continues.

4. That they FREE KODI BURNS. Seriously, I'm about two weeks away from printing up t-shirts. If you're going to use him at all, let him do more than plow forward for three yards and hand off.

When Arkansas has the ball

5. That they don't allow the home-run run. Arkansas's kind of unusual in that when they're looking for a big play, they don't throw the ball. Particularly now that Marcus Monk is still in his recovery monastery (I know I used that same line in the Q n' A, but let's see you come up with a whole repertoire of monk-related jokes), Arkansas's going to look to the passing game for a quick 15-yard play-action pass or a quick five-yard hitch, just to keep the chains moving. For long-ball purposes, though, they're going to hand off to Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the backfield, who while lacking many characteristics of the Dr. Seuss characters of the same name do share an ability to cause unbridled chaos and fear an are similarly not of the human species.

The one on the right is McFadden.

They're going to get theirs, but if Auburn can at least not give up the 70-yard ground-bombs that have plagued them throughout this series this decade, the more opportunities they'll give themselves to force a Casey Dick mistake or luck into a first-down TFL to stop a drive.

And for God's sake, Auburn, don't give up a kick return for TD. Our offense is playing well, but it isn't Kentucky's. There's no hope of keeping up if the Hogs don't even have to take a snap to score.

6. That Wilhite, Powers, and Lee play smart.
Forget zone, forget safety help. Etheridge, Brock, and McNeil have more important Thing 1 and Thing 2-related things to do than double-cover Arkansas's third-string wideouts. The corners are going to be out on that proverbial one-on-one island, where instead of pineapples they grow game-changing plays, for one team or the other. The Hogs don't have the QB or the receivers to test Auburn's corners repeatedly, but when they do, they'd better be ready.

Win this one, Auburn, and we all eat for one glorious week at the cotton candy dream machine. Let's go. War Eagle.


J.M. said...

I hope that we get to see the leaping, grinning, draining-the-swamp Muschamp again today. War Eagle!

Anonymous said...

    I'm hoping that Arkansas defends the pass just like Alabama or Ole Miss, and that "Evil Brandon" takes the day off! Tide/Rebs is a mistake-fest, here in the second half!

Anonymous said...

    Forgot to sign the last post. Sorry!

    Acid Reign

Anonymous said...

Ok, pre-game jitters setting in now. God I hope we score early. Seems to be the key for us in the last 2 games. Well, here goes. War Eagle!


Anonymous said...

What a game! WOW! Talk about coming back when every thing breaks against you! Gawd, I love this team! Seriously, there IS something special about these guys!


Anonymous said...

BTW, Looks like 'Evil Brandon' died three games ago. Looks like 'Clutch Brandon' has replaced him. WAR EAGLE!


Anonymous said...

Damn! What a 'D' we have. Whatever we pay Muschamp, I say we double it right now.

War Eagle!


Anonymous said...

    Wish 1: Gravy? Done. Won with occasional miscues, injuries, and bad play.

    Wish 2: Dunlap. Did well when called on. Unfortunately, Ziemba gave up two inside big plays on the other side, after Pugh was hurt.

    Wish 3: Tate got his touches. In fact, I'd have liked to have seen him get more. We got to 3rd and two with a 6-0 lead late in the 4th, and we failed to go with Tate, who had carried us that far against a tiring Hog defense. Result? A near-grounding throw off the bootleg, in the dirt, and a missed FG.

    Wish 4: That sneaky "looks like 5" 3-man front by Herring was a "eat Kodi up in front of the home folks" design. Instead, we got lots of cool-headed play by Brandon Cox.

    Wish 5: You didn't get this one. Jonathan Wilhite lined up wrong ONE time, and yeah, we gave up seven. Wasn't enough for the Hogs. We may well have de-railed the D-mac for Heisman campaign!

    Wish 6: For the most part, done. Wilhite's gaffe listed under number 5 was one of the few "non-smart" corner back decisions. Otherwise, it was underneath guys like Hillis and various tight ends making catches, and usually for very little yardage. Giving up only one TD, in this day and age, is awfully good for a secondary!

    And, War Eagle! I think we have some possibilities in Baton Rouge, next weekend, if we eliminate the drops!

    Acid Reign

Anonymous said...

Sorry about replying so much here, but they locked the forums over at for some reason (the bammers do that too when they win a close one). I've only read their comments over there and never signed up because I didn't really feel too comfortable with those people. I signed up tonight because a I've seen a lot of 'yeah, that was a lousy call by Tubs..Byrum really blew it this time...Our offense sucked, we should fire Borges' comments there! What a bunch of lame'os. I'd really like to give some of these Auburn 'Bammers' a piece of my mind! Damn, these are a bunch of kids one year out of high school who are having an amazing season and a lot of these losers are trashing them because they didn't make the plays they would have played and call the calls they would have called in their 'Walter Mitty' fantasies. There are some fans we can do without and those kinds of 'fans' are definetly some I wish we could ditch in a hurry. Awesome win by our Tigers, even if some jerk 'fans' think we will definitely lose to LSU unless we 'get it together?!?'. Where the hell have they been all season?. BTW, the 'Bammers' over at had a stroke when we pulled it out! War Eagle!


Michael I said...

Jerry, if you print those FREE KODI t-shirts in ORANGE, I'll buy a handful. Borges has to let Kodi throw the ball against LSU. EVERYONE knows Kodi is ONLY a run threat, forgetting his handful of killer passes early in the season of course (shhh). Borges is no longer the genius. He has been eclipsed by Muschamp. Good news, we don't have to worry about finding a new OC anytime soon.

Jerry Hinnen said...

AR: I'd say I got 3 or 4 of the six, which is fine. No massive runs, just the one corner breakdown, Dunlap didn't have the chance to be the rock I was hoping to see with Bosley back in there, only real issues were Burns continuing to have a year of eligibility flushed down the toilet and the general lack of threat from the passing game.

SCTiger, post all you want. Any Auburn fan who's not thrilled with this season or with Saturday's performance (a win against Arkansas, on the road, is NEVER to be sneezed at under any circumstances) is, as you point out, someone who needs to go in search of a life.

Michael I., I have to agree that if forced at gunpoint to pick Borges or Muschamp I'd now take the latter, and I obviously think what they're doing with Burns is a giant mistake. But overall I have to say I don't have any other complaints with Borges. Once Cox got his head on straight and the line got freshmanized, AU's been fine at worst.

I also wouldn't be so quick to assume we won't lose him. If Dorrell gets fired as could very easily happen, Borges will be a candidate.