Thursday, November 10, 2011

Looking Ahead to Auburn

I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention something about Paterno being fired and the whole Penn State saga.  I think the Board of Trustees there made the only the decision they could......if they let him coach out the season, it would have turned into an even bigger circus, with the fans trying to turn it into a Paterno love-fest.  That was PR that the school simply does not need right now.  Paterno is getting what he deserved, but I also hope people don't forget that it was Sandusky who is the biggest villain in all of this, and nobody is even talking about him right now.  There's so much blame to go around up there in Happy Valley, and my heart breaks for the kids who were taken advantage of (allegedly, though I can't imagine Sandusky being proven innocent).  Just a sad, awful situation.

Looking ahead to our game though, this is by far the most excited I've been about a game since the leadup to the Boise State game.  My hopes for the season, and Richt's tenure, pretty much went into the toilet at that point, and it's taken a while for my optimism to return.  But I really am starting to fall in love again with the makeup of this team.  As they've turned things around, it hasn't always been pretty - and sometimes it's been downright ugly - but for the first time since 2007 we have a team of guys that actually look like they believe in each other.  There are holes on this team still (OL depth, RB depth, special teams, etc), but the Florida game is what really sold me on these guys.  I have a hard time imagining any of our recent teams who would have responded to being down 17-3 the way these guys did in Jacksonville.  For the most part, once Florida gets up by a couple of scores, it typically becomes a snowball effect for the rest of the game.  But these guys never panicked, never stopped believing in each other, and found a way to win.

Now we still need the football gods to grant us a bit of fortune.  While we have developed depth at a number of positions this year, we're a Crowell or Cordy Glenn injury away from being in some pretty big trouble on the offensive side of the ball.  The young guys looked good against New Mexico State, but I'm not too keen on having to depend on any of them as primary contributors in our remaining games.  And we need one of the RB's to prove they can step in and fill the role Samuel had grown into nicely, picking up the tough yards in short yardage situations.  Samuel had surprised me with how well he had started filling that role the past few weeks, but now we really need Crowell to play some mind-over-body games, and will his way through the next few games without fatiguing in the 4th quarter.

I've only watched Auburn play twice this year, against Clemson and LSU.  In both cases, the further along the game went, the more evident it became that Auburn was physically outmatched.  Outside of Dyer, they just don't have the playmakers or depth on either side of the ball that you typically see from an Auburn team.  They've managed to scrape together a respectable 6-3 record to this point, which I sure didn't expect after the way they struggled against Utah State, so it's not like they're a bad team.  But there is no question that we are the better team this year, as even Vegas has strongly announced us as the favorites.  I see this being a typical Mark Richt victory.......take a couple of shots early in the game, but for the most part play conservative on offense and force their offense to prove they can score on our defense.  If Butler rebounds back to his normal self and our kick coverage units can just at least be mediocre, we should be able to control the field position battle in this one.  And if we can do that, eventually things will open up, and points will start coming our way.  I think the game will still be relatively close going into the 4th quarter, but we should win the 4th quarter pretty convincingly, especially if we can get the kind of production out of Crowell that we're all looking for.  In the end, I'm calling it thusly:

UGA: 34
AU: 14


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