Thursday, October 02, 2008

Recap: Tennessee, half the second

Sorry, Mario, our princess successful spread offense is in another castle playbook.

When we last left our Auburn Tigers, they'd been gifted a 14-6 halftime lead by yet another EARTH-SHATTERING mistake from the Vol offense. But surely they'll be able to manage more than one successful offensive drive here in the second half? Let's find out!

Third quarter

--Intrepid sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson catches up with Tubby before the second half, who tells her he stuck Burns in the game because the crowd was dead and there was too much "standing around" on the sidelines. He also calls out the o-line and says "We didn't play very good" overall in the first half, causing the fourth-grade grammarian that lives inside me and every former English major to wince.
--Yeah, I can't imagine Tubby will be much happier with his offensive line after the first series of the second half, wherein Jason Bosley gets shoved backwards to disrupt a first-down, no-gain run by Tate and then watches his man sack Burns on third down. Three plays, -2 yards, one punt. And we're off!
--CBS gives us the quarterback stats from the first half. Auburn's QBs are actually pretty respectable between the two of them, combining to go 11-of-16 for nearly 100 yards plus Burns's 25 yards rushing. Jonathan Crompton, meanwhile, is 5-of-14 for nothing much. Auburn is decisively winning the quarterback matchup. Pigs also spotted buzzing third- and fourth-story windows downtown, film at 11.
--After one charity first-down via an Auburn offsides, the Vols go rush for 1, sack, underneath pass for 5, punt. At least Walk-On McWalk-On, the punter, downs it inside the five. He hasn't been nearly as bad as we were led to believe, damn his non-scholarship hide.
--Uncle Verne on Todd's wobbly, inaccurate first-down throw: "That looked like a shot put." Danielson on Tate's run off left tackle on 3rd-and-8 (!): "That's not going to work." I wish I could disagree with either of those blunt assessments. Punt. Sigh.
--Good news: Stevens and Bynes combine to make an outstanding tackle on another short third-down pass to force yet another Vol three-and-out. Bad news: this punter ate his Wheaties this morning. Downed at the Auburn 2.
--OH MERCIFUL HEAVENS. Todd just stood on his goal line and oh-so-casually lofted a ball towards a double-covered Trott, who only by the grace of some orange-and-blue god comes down with a first-down reception. That ball gets picked somewhere between 98 and 99 percent of the time, and that's not an estimate, it's scientific fact. My heart will hopefully restart here in the next couple of minutes.
--Wow, this has actually turned into a drive. Tate for 14. Fannin for 9. Todd gets hit out-of-bounds, and that takes Auburn all the way into Vol territory at the 44. Hoo ... ray?
--Nevermind. 3rd-and-10 and the pick we all knew was coming sometime finally arrives, as Todd's arm just isn't up to hitting an open Billings across the middle 20 yards downfield. Yeah, I'm frustrated, but honestly, this was inevitable and I'm relieved Todd threw it on this side of the field and that the guy gets tackled long before it becomes six points the other way.
--Har har, they leave Coleman unblocked on a sweep that comes right at him and he and Marks tackle to set up 3rd-and-15. With Crompton back there, I'd put the odds of a conversion somewhere between "not a chance in hell" and "a snowball's chance in hell." Look, he's going to scramble for it, that's cute. Uh, guys, he did already pick up seven or eight yards, you might want to tackle him. Guys? GUYS? HE JUST MADE THE FIRST DOWN, GUYS!!! For frith's sake. Jonathan Crompton just scrambled for 16 yards on 3rd-and-15. AAAAAARRGGGGHHHH.
--Gerald Jones take a G-Gun snap and they've got him cornered ... until he spins away from one tackle ... and another ... AND ONE MORE ... and finishes with an eight-yard gain. AAAAAARRGGGGHHHH AAAAAARRGGGGHHHH AAAAAARRGGGGHHHH! This drive blows.
--The third quarter ends with Tennessee on the Auburn 2 after a facemask call on Bynes that would have been a five-yard incidental a year ago and was supposed to be nothing this year but because the rules people have to screw around with a good thing as often as possible and refs have to throw flags as often as possible, now it's a personal foul. Seriously: aargh.

Fourth quarter

--Touchdown Hardesty, dammit. 14-12. "Peyton says go for two!" Verne enthuses as Manning holds up two fingers, because either he wants to pretend he's playing for Tennessee again or he doesn't have enough confidence in the Vol coaching staff to figure out what to do here.
--Whew, Crompton reverts to Cromptonness just in time on the two-point conversion, hitting his receiver in stride ... at the 2. He's swarmed under before getting close to the goalline. Still 14-12.
--Come on Auburn, let's get something going on offense pleaseandthankyou. Tate for 11 is Good. Tate for 4 Isn't Bad. Pass to Billings for 2 Could Be Better. OH COME ON TODD the swing pass to Fannin that's two yards out in front of him when an accurate pass is a sure first down is Not Good At All. Verne says there are "murmurs of discontent," and if those are directed at Tony Franklin rather than Todd, I, too, am Michael Phelps.
--Maybe this is why Tubby kept punting away from LSU even when Holliday had left the game? Durst hangs another high one that Jones breaks loose on anyway, streaking down the right sideline to the Auburn 38. Good work from Tate and the snapper Robert Shiver to save the TD. With Lincoln's range and Auburn's craptacular performance thus far on offense, I'm thinking a single first down here could win the game.
--Fortunately, we're playing Tennessee. Bynes blows up the first-down G-Gun keeper, Lucas Taylor flat drops a second-down screen (though this wasn't going for big yardage anyway, as Etheridge had slipped a block and was bearing down on him), and a third-down QB draw designed to pick up five and get the Vols into field goal range goes nowhere. Auburn breathes out slowly and fair catches at the 12.
--Todd throws to Dunn for six yards on 3rd-and-eight and it's another three-and-out. Shoot me. I'm even pissed at Verne, who's had entirely too much fun with the four-man Auburn signaling crew, and now says they look like they're "landing planes on an aircraft carrier." Earlier that was probably funny but right now? Har har SCREW YOU BUDDY.
--I swear, if I'm a Tennessee fan, I'm hauling out the torch and pitchfork and headed to Dave Clawson's house. Crompton has been beyond awful today, but that doesn't stop Clawson from dialing up a first-down pass Crompton sails over his receiver's head. Lennon Creer picks up a solid six on second down, so does Clawson stick with that on a makeable 3rd-and-4? Nope, Crompton can't find anyone and rather than trying to scramble for the first throws it a mile out-of-bounds. I'd like to take this opportunity to salute Clawson and Crompton for their roles alongside Aaron Eckhart in the recent motion picture release "Thank You for Sucking."
--Auburn takes over at the 20 as McWalk-On suddenly becomes human again, and Bosley helps the Tigers take advantage of their best field position of the half by committing a hold on first down. The Auburn offense this half has been a newly-hatched sea turtle with a gull standing right outside its nest: dead before it even starts. This is a three-and-out, of course, but not before Todd fires at no one in particular on second down and draws another round of boos. This is a miserable college football viewing experience.
--Though probably not quite as miserable as it is for the Tennessee fans. The Vols set up shop at the Auburn 46 and on 3rd-and-4--despite the fact there's less than seven minutes to play and that this might be the last drive on which they have the luxury of running the ball--they forego trying to gain the first by bulling ahead with Hardesty twice. Instead they opt to have Crompton misfire for the thousandth time and punt the ball into the end zone. This kind of decision makes my blood boil, and I'm rooting against them.
--Burns is back in, and I am shocked--shocked!--to tell you he keeps three consecutive times. Tennessee is as shocked as I am; they tackle Burns for three consecutive no-gains. Punt. I'm almost numb at this point. Either the defense will hold, or they won't.
--Bynes continues to be all over the place, blowing up a first-down run and then coming within a split-second of sacking Crompton on second as he throws incomplete. Now it's 3rd-and-8 and a Crompton completion for a first-down seems well-nigh impossible. Turns out it is: Crompton throws downfield under duress and good coverage from Thorpe sees the ball hit the turf. Fourth down. Punt, downed depressingly at the 5.
--One first down--one motherhumping first down, for the love of God--and unbelievably, inconceivably, Auburn wins this game. Come on, guys. One first down. Let's go.
--Tate for 2 over the right side, and he's injured. HOORAY. THIS GAME IS SO FUN. After a long delay he lines up in the backfield anyway as Fannin starts to come on to replace him, then heads back towards the sideline, resulting in a substitution penalty. THIS GAME IS LIKE EATING A BOWL OF RAINBOW-FLAVORED GUMDROPS I LOVE IT. Fannin gets the second-down handoff and breaks outside for six, at least. Third-and-five. Timeout.
--OHMYGOSH WHAT WAS THAT FIRST DOWN? First down! Holy crap! What the hell just happened? I rewind the DVR: while CBS was busy showing us the Miller High Life guy blathering on about the High Life and runing some perfectly nice people's tailgate, Burns threw to Billings for the first! It's a first down! Auburn's going to win the damn game!
--Replay shows that Bosley--in the capper to an absolute howler of a game--was lost from the snap and barely even delayed his man on his way into the backfield. Burns stayed with the play anyway made an incredible throw with this guy right in his face. There's no way to argue this: if that's Chris Todd, there's no way in God's green earth that's a first down and it's very likely a safety.
--Oh, by the way, CBS people responsible for missing this play in real-time: kindly fall into a hole and die.
--One run and it becomes apparent Auburn will not have to give the ball back. Victory formation! It's over! Auburn wins! Oh thank everything holy that's finished. Now, burn the tapes, shred the stat sheets, and let us forever consign this half of football to what we pretentious types like to refer to as "the dustbin of history."
--Tubby says afterward that the team "had a hard time getting up" in practice after the LSU loss. He's "proud of their effort" even though the offense--in your early front-runner for 2008 Understatement of the year--"isn't hitting on all cylinders." He looks relieved more than anything, though of course maybe I'm projecting.
--Seriously: what in the hell just happened?


bovinekid said...

"Tubby says afterward that the team 'had a hard time getting up' in practice after the LSU loss."

This is something I'd totally forgotten about by the end of the game because I was so disgusted in general. Before the game though, I told my buddy "If the team even half as long to get over that LSU game as it did for me, we are in big trouble."

I guess we should just be happy that Tennessee sucks again this year and that we managed to beat an SEC team the week after LSU.

Sullivan013 said...

Stop me if you've watched this before....

Auburn goes to Vanderbilt reeling from the early season. The day is dank and dreary and the players seem sluggish in the face of a nasty Vandy team bent on making history and beating Auburn with dynamic play, enthusiastic talented players and an excellently planned game plan. The Tigers are backed up in their own territory, with mid-field and a winning season seemingly a million miles away....

...and then it happens. The super-slow-mo offensive hit's its slowest speed with a simple pass pattern that has been squashed repeatedly throughout the first half. The clouds part and a small shaft of light illuminates a single open receiver. The ball somehow passed through the outstretched hands of at least two closing defenders and into those attached to a white jersey who slips one tackle and is off down the sidelines for a big gain.


Amazingly the slow-mo offense is no more. Under clearing skies, Auburn goes from one extreme to the other in an instantaneous yet bewildering metamorphous. From the ugly caterpillar cocoon a brilliantly gloriously and gaudy butterfly emerges and lights up the scoreboard for this and the rest of the games of the season. The speed of the offensive tempo is now at FFX3 and finally hitting on all cylinders for the first time.

Losses may still occur, but not on the offense side of the ball, and the disorganized rabble we witnessed in the first few games finally starts to look like it deserves the title of “team."

Fans in both orange and blue let out their collective breath and sigh contentedly,….”Thank God for Vandy!”

Funny thing is? This has happened more times than I care to remember for as long as I’ve been an Auburn fan.


Anonymous said...

In a bit of Freudian reading, I read that last part at first as "shred the shi+ sheets." Not an inapt way to put it.

Jerry Hinnen said...

BK: Apparently, yes.

Sully: Man, I hope you're right.

Anon: LOLZ