Clemson Review: So…What Next?
As I write this there are certain ways I could address the game and our issues, on one hand I could go on about how bad our defense has been and is getting and then cry for Roof’s head like every other Auburn fan seems to be doing, or on the other hand I could look at this objectively and try to keep a positive view on the rest of the season. Let’s try both.
Yesterday’s game was nothing less than a shambles. Earlier in the day, my english soccer team Arsenal were up 2-1 and then imploded the same way defensively and lost the game 4-3. That shouldn’t have happened and neither should this. Auburn lead by 14 points TWICE but still couldn’t hold onto the lead. We seem to play better when we are behind than when we are ahead doesn’t it? We almost went into over-time last week after being up by 14 points, if it were not for Ryan Smith’s heroic goal-line stop. What is the issue here? Are we young? Are the players ignoring what the coaches are telling them about how to tackle? Or are Clemson just that good?
Offensively, it was not out greatest game. The biggest positive is that Dyer is proving yet again why he might be the best RB in the SEC. He has everything you want, power, agility, ability to break tackles and home run speed. He really is special, and is evidently the bright spot on offense. I think Trotter had a good game, sure he threw the interception but every quarterback throws those. Cam threw one against Clemson last year, remember him? I think he’s playing in the NFL now, if I remember correctly. Trotter can make some nice throws, and I hope we stick with him as the season goes by. He is a leader and believe it or not he did lead us to victory against Utah State.
I knew going into the game we would give up a lot of points, I predicted we would give up 35 points but also score 45 ourselves. I didn’t think it would be a blowout and frankly that’s not how Auburn does things.
Ever since half-time struck at last year’s Iron Bowl, Auburn’s defense played really well the rest of the season. They gave up 3 second half points to Bama, 17 points in Atlanta and limited Oregon’s fast paced/productive offense to just 19 points. We seemed to be hitting our defensive peak just at the right time last season which helped us win the BCS National Championship.
Ever since then, the defense has been less than impressive…in fact its been pretty awful hasn’t it? Giving up 38 points to Utah State, 34 points to MSU and 38 points to a struggling Clemson is not what anyone wants. Sure, we lost a lot of players and the replacements are young, I myself has been beating this drum since the season started, about how the team is young and should be improving but three games in we look like a .500 team. Are we over-reacting because it’s our first loss in so long? That is a possibility, Auburn fans have been used to having the luxury of winning games even in a close fashion, and that has always been the positive from our seeming glaring weakness of a poor defense.
Is this Roof or Chizik’s fault that the defense is so bad? I could easily blame either of them, but let’s just go with the norm and point the finger at Roof shall we? The Tampa 2 defense is a fine defense, and Chizik is one of the college coaches that has executed it so well in the past at places like Texas and Auburn. There is not an issue with the defense, but rather the fundamentals and more importantly the coaching. As I wrote in the article about the Tampa 2, it requires the defense to have sound tackling, something Auburn clearly lacks. We were in several positions yesterday to get tackles for losses, sacks, interceptions etc. but we hardly made any of them, which is not going to get it done. After the game, Chizik said this:
“I’m going to really have to evaluate everything and I’m going to look at some things”
What does this mean? Does it mean Chizik will take over the defense from here on out and attempt to salvage what we have left of the season? I’d like to think so, who knows what the coaches plan to do now but they will tell the players that the season is still not over even with a loss on our schedule. Chizik now has to find a new plan for the defense and I trust that he will. We have the talent, but have lacked the key fundamentals for us to get the required stops that we didn’t get yesterday. Here is a tweet I saw yesterday that gauges how bad our defense really has been, and could be:
“Auburn Defense has given up 1,603 yards and 110 points in three games. On pace to give up 6,412 yards and 440 points, which would shatter record”
Pretty incredible huh? Here is a graphic that I also found on a message board yesterday, you really do find some funny stuff on these things.
That just signifies the importance of Gene Chizik right now, he MUST make the correct changes if we are to get some more wins this season, he simply must. We aren’t playing Auburn defense right now, not even close.
We haven’t even hit the toughest part of the schedule, but ask yourself where are the rest of the wins going to come from? Florida Atlantic, Samford and Ole Miss should be wins, so that gives us 5. I think/hope we will surprise a few other teams and come away with 7-8 wins, that is still a possibility even with how bad we played yesterday. It isn’t likely, but still a possibility.
But, we will continue to carry on as always and focus on the next week. Next week we play Florida Atlantic, which I hope we can get a win from, (Am I kidding there? Do you think I am?) it should be a chance for the team to regain its confidence and for the younger guys to get more needed in-game experience. Let’s try and salvage our season, because it isn’t over yet, it isn’t as if we are 0-3 (although we easily could be).
Just remember, at least you aren’t an Ole Miss fan.