Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Works, Seemed like a good idea at the time-style

They may have been British and tastefully, um, glam, but there's no getting around the fact that no band has ever been more apty named for describing the current cesspool that is Auburn's 2008 season than ...

The Darkness. Look, they even wrote a song about the Franklin hire and the Spread Eagle!

It seemed like such a good idea at the time,
such a very very good idea at the time.

I don't know where I am, I don't know where I went wrong
either way let's start again
I don't know where I am, I don't know where I went wrong
I don't know where to start again

Oh, Justin Hawkins, you're always right: the spread was a good idea at the time. It's been easy to forget, but whatever you think of the execution of Operation Spread Eagle--and what you think of it is that it sucked like the cold black vacuum of outer space, no doubt--Tubby wasn't bonkers to make the switch. Brain Cook provides some evidence at MGoBlog ironically titled "The Spread is Dead":
The top ten teams in total offense so far, spread teams in bold:

1. Tulsa
2. Texas Tech
3. Missouri
4. Houston
5. Louisiana Lafayette
6. Oklahoma
7. Nevada (pistol variety)
8. Oklahoma State
9. Penn State
10. Illinois

Might want to cancel the funeral.
I left Brian's bolding alone, but I think he might even still be underselling the spread's case; the JCCW was told by someone who's seen them first-hand that Lafayette's a spread team as well. And none of those teams are Florida, which kinda hasn't been the Destroyers of Worlds we expected in the preseason week-in and week-out, but nonetheless buried LSU and the alleged best defensive line in the country under 265 yards rushing Saturday. To the extent that you can lump offenses as dissimilar as Penn St.'s and Texas Tech's together--the only similarity is that both line up multiple wideouts and operate out of the shotgun--it's safe to say the spread as a concept in and of it itself wasn't Auburn's problem.

This is particularly true when you consider the talent going into most of these offenses, which isn't outrageously different from Auburn's, or least wasn't in its developmental stages. No, Auburn doesn't have a Chase Daniel or a Michael Crabtree or a Sam Bradford or a Derrick Williams. But we've got Missouri's running backs. We've got Tulsa's wideouts. In Kodi Burns, we have a guy who can be Daryl Clark or even Juice Williams with some experience and coaching. This can work. Maybe not this year, no, but I'll support Tubby's plans to try and make it work next year--provided he finds the OC and coaches who can do just that.

Epic. Do you like "SEC football" and "laughing"? You do? Then you should read Holly and Doug's towering ode to a hypothetical Tennessee-Georgia house divided, "Chick-fil-A Dramatic Theatre presents: Scenes from a Marriage." The prologue is here, with Part II here, III here, and IV here. It's like the Corrections, but it'll take 1/10,000th as long to read and instead of wanting to slit your wrists at the end you'll have your trembling faith in humanity restored. Or something. Read it.

Does not compute. Jay G. Tate on Auburn's stretch run and the possible impact on Tubby's future:
UT-Martin is a gimme. Auburn will be a mild underdog at WVU and Ole Miss. It probably will be a major underdog against Georgia and Alabama.

Let's say Auburn splits em and goes 7-5. It may come down to which game represents the seventh win.

Considering what happened to Tommy Bowden today, Auburn finishing 7-5 with a loss to Alabama likely would spell the end of the Tuberville era here.
I've seen a lot of comparisons to Tommy Bowden floating around out there, and they are, flatly, bunk. Bowden's teams never won an ACC title. As soon as they had something actually at stake in terms of national impact or a league crown, they choked on applesauce, every time. Bowden has been ducking the vultures circling overhead for years now, usually by pulling one out against his overrated father. Tubby's has nothing in common with Tommy except for the results of these first several weeks of the 2008 season, and I can't see what the latter's firing has to do with the former. Likewise, if Tubby gets to 7-5 by any freaking means necessary, he's not going anywhere. A coach with his fan support and track record having his megabucks contract bought out after a winning season and bowl berth? No freaking way, man, not unless Lowder has even deeper pockets and wider sway than even your run-of-the-mill Auburn fan is led to believe.

Of course, Auburn's about as likely to make 7-5 as they were to beat Arkansas 35-7, so debating these particular specifics is a bit of a moot point. (I'm being a little unnecessarily snarky in on Jay's direction here, but I suspect he can take it these days; to judge by his comment totals and Uncle Verne name-dropping, he's emerged to fill the "go-to Auburn MSM blogger" vacancy left by Philip Marshall's departure. Congrats are probably in order.)

Awwwww. When anyone else read the headline "Team chaplain takes vow of silence regarding Auburn football," were they hoping like me that Chette Williams had sworn himself not to speak until Auburn won a game? Because that would have been monastically awesome. Instead, it's just about Williams understandably refusing to offer his candid opinions on gaining 193 yards against Arkansas. Maybe next time.

Good news. Not really. This is Auburn 2008. Which means that Ray Cotton might re-open his recruiting. Also, that Auburn is now paying their two ex-offensive coordinators "over half a million dollars." Huzzah.

The More You Know. Notice how you saw a lot more of Mike Slade roaming around during the Arkansas game than before? There's a reason for that:
In nickel down situations, Auburn was forced to put safety Zac Etheridge over at nickelback, usually where an extra cornerback would play. Tuberville said freshman D’Antoine Hood has not shown the quickness to play at that position.
Enjoy the move to safety, D'Antoine. (And oh, before you feel too depressed about this situation, our next opponent ranks 111th in passing offense, so at least it shouldn't kill us for another two weeks.)

BlAUgosphere bits. The Pigskin Pathos had some choice stuff in the wake of the Arkansas loss, and though I don't second the Kodi skepticism or frustration with the Auburn D, their exasperation is sublime:
Watching Auburn's offense is like being mugged by the same person everyday. He calls you by name, kicks you in the balls, sprays mace in your eyes, has sex with your girlfriend in front of your crying, fetal-positioned body, steals whatever little money you made last week selling straw hats made from recycled hemp on the corner next to the exotic candle shop, and punches your dog in the throat on the way out the door.
This blockquote was a narrow winner over Ben's questions for the Auburn wideouts from the same post, and there's also an alternative--and possibly even superior--nickname for Great Story Pybus over there. Do visit.

Also, Jay has some worthwhile thoughts on Tubby; Grotus gets his usual impeccable prose on in support of Burns ("a quarterback has to learn how to handle the game by playing the game, which is to say, being more than bail-out-the-white-boy one season and Tweedledee in a mutant quarterback dichotomy the next"); and in one of the nominees for Auburn blog comment of the year, aubiz responds to Jeremy's request at TWER that Auburn "beat the hell out of Tuscaloosa" by asking, Zen-like:
Can you beat something out of itself?

Etc. Several poll voters vote Missouri over Oklahoma St., which makes me weep for humanity ... Not to taunt the fates or anything, but West Virginia's performance against Syracuse suggests they may very well be Auburn's best remaining hope for a I-A win ... Save the Shield notes that another battle is lost in the war for ethics in college athletics, as Kentucky's Billy Gillispie pays a hotshot recruit's father to speak at basketball camps ... in other Vandy blog news, VSL worries about Bobby Johnson's Clemson connections ... if you'd like some schadenfreude about the OC fiasco, Tennessee's willing to oblige.


Ben said...

Thanks for the link.

The Kodi skepticism is probably a by product of the students crowning him "Savior of the Universe and Protector of All That is Good and Holy." I have always been a fan of the underdog.

And I was a staunch Brandon Cox supporter and the students booing Chris Todd gave me flashbacks. Todd wearing #12 only added to the confusion.

Most importantly, Kodi is still a large potential shaped question mark. He needs some tempering in the fires of SEC competition. Thus, he should play. But I choose to remain skeptical to protect my spirit if he is terrible.

Good work with the Tubs articles.

Peter Frankenschmidt said...

What is MSM?

Jerry Hinnen said...

Peter: Mainstream media. Sorry for the confusion.

Ben: The physical, numerical, and occasional performance-anal similarities between Cox and Todd are indeed striking. I don't blame you.

Sullivan013 said...

Todd < Cox

Cox was a leader who took pounding after pounding and still had his 'game hat' on, even in the fourth quarter. I don't remember seeing him flustered and making the mental mistakes that Todd is showing on nearly every play.

Cox made mistakes, but they were at least in the spirit of making something happen on the field. Todd's miscues are of the 'what planet is he on/from' variety that makes him simply maddening to watch.

You mentioned it before, Jerry, with Cox at the helm this year, we'd be 7-0. I don't doubt that in the least. It would still be ugly,.... but not as ugly as 4-3.... or 3-2.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Oh, no question, Sully. In that regard, you're right, they're not similar at all.