Looking at Auburn-Alabama

December 9, 2013

Most of my readers know that I am an Auburn fan, although I try not to say too much about it in my columns. I know that people who are not fans of the Tigers don’t want to consistently read about my allegiance to the orange and blue.

With that being said I have decided to give my responses to a few questions and comments that I have heard since Auburn’s 34-28 upset victory over Alabama last Saturday. Yes, I was thrilled with the result and yes I was just as stunned as you as to how the game ended. Since then I have heard many things said about the game. Let’s look at a few of them.

Auburn can’t run on Alabama! This was heard many times before the game. Auburn bases it offense on the run but seers predicted that Alabama would shut down the Tigers’ ground game. Didn’t happen! Auburn rushed for 296 yards and 5.7 yards per carry. This is the first time that any team has rushed for over 200 yards against Alabama since 2011. Seems that the pundits missed on this one!

Auburn has been lucky in it’s last two wins!I will admit that Auburn was very fortunate, I wouldn’t call it luck, to score the winning touchdown against Georgia but I see no luck in the Alabama victory. Please show me where there was luck in the Bama game. Auburn fought back in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 28-28 and then responded to the Tide’s end-of-the-game long field goal attempt by simply dropping back a returner in case the kick was short. That was good coaching. The returner brought back the kick behind good blocking for the winning touchdown. That was good coaching and good response to the situation. Chris Davis’ return was no luckier than McCarron’s 99-yard TD pass to Cooper. This was a good hard-fought game between two excellent teams. Auburn wasn’t lucky!

Malzahn out-coached Saban! Coaches are called on to make dozens of decisions during a game and a game of this magnitude really magnifies each decision. To say that one coach out-coaches another is probably not fair. In the fourth quarter of the game Auburn responded very positively to some of Alabama’s decisions and the game turned on some of those responses. Many of Nick Saban’s decisions have been scrutinized thoroughly and many didn’t work out well for Alabama. These decisions could have worked, but Auburn performed at a high level to thwart the Tide. Give Malzahn his deserved credit. He did a great job and his team won the game, but I’m not sure about the out-coaching thing.

Saban “threw his players under the bus” after the game! This is a term used when a coach blames his players for a loss or for bad performances. Most coaches place the blame upon themselves after a loss and refuse to point their fingers at their players; however, in the interviews that I saw, Saban did not take the blame. He clearly pointed out several situations and plays that, according to him, contributed to the loss. I am aware that these comments have to be made to the team but I would expect them to be made in a team-only meeting and not publicly. I know that Saban is not accustomed to losing and having to explain defeat, but it was not very professional to “throw his players under the bus.”

Alabama field goal kicker Cade Foster lost the game for the Tide! I agree that Foster missed three field goals that could have been vital to Bama’s cause, but to say he lost the game would be a bit short-sighted. Certainly any play that could result in points is remembered more than others but there are numerous plays in a game that could redirect the momentum or emotion in a game. We all know that Foster did not miss those field goals purposefully. I’m sure he works hard in practice every day and is an excellent kicker. Otherwise, he would not have been Alabama’s kicker throughout the entire season. Kickers miss kicks! Linemen miss blocks! Receivers miss passes! Defenders miss tackles! It just so happens that the kicker is on an island and his failure is magnified.

Auburn’s victory could assure that the SEC won’t be represented in the National Championship game! Yep, it could. If things go as predicted we may see Florida State and Ohio State in the title matchup. I’m sorry but Auburn was not going to lay down and lose to Alabama just so that the Tide could go to the “Big Game” as the SEC representative. Auburn wants to go to Pasadena as much as anyone but they still must win a very tough game against Missouri and then hope for a loss by FSU or Ohio State. Probably not going to happen. Sorry that the SEC may not be in the National Championship game, but don’t blame Auburn.

It’s been a great year for Auburn fans after last years 3-9 debacle. Please allow our excitement for, as we all know, there will be a next year and anything can happen. For right now let’s say “Beat Mizzou!” War Eagles!