South Carolina Review: I asked, and I received.
It felt great to finally see Auburn play defense again, we did a great job in bottling up Lattimore to a whopping 66 yards on 17 carries as well as pressure Garcia into making those interceptions that were oh so vital in our attempt to win on the road in the SEC. I was really impressed with the play against an offense that can still put points up on anyone, keeping weapons like Lattimore and Jeffries out of the game was very impressive despite what several mediots think.
The game itself was a slugfest, as neither team got going offensively and the main blame for our sputtering offense was on Trotter. For me, Trotter was nowhere near the Quarterback that we need him to be, sure he led us to the winning drive on the road but he only looked slightly better than Garcia on saturday. He needs to really step it up next week if we are going to beat the Piggies in their house at night, that type of performance won’t earn us many more wins.
The better news, is that Dyer did a great job in handling the majority of the carries and pretty much carried the offense on his back. We won’t be giving the ball to Dyer 41 times every game, but we now know that he does have what it takes to handle the majority of the carries and produce from them. I think Dyer would have done a hell of a lot better if we had a better offensive line to work with, the play of that unit was quite frankly poor, especially the left side as AJ Greene spent the entire game being a defensive-ends play toy. If the offense is going to produce more, Trotter will need more time to throw and that will have to depend on the consistency of the offensive line.
I have been craving a good defensive performance for a while and that is exactly what we received on Saturday. Some can blame that on Garcia playing like an ass, but we were able to get consistent pressure on Garcia which forced him into some mistakes. That needs to continue if we want to have a chance at beating Arkansas, because giving Wilson too much time will allow him to pick apart our defense and sustain drives, which is not what we want. The linebacker play was also improved, and apart from Lattimore’s touchdown our tackling ten times better than before. The great thing about our defense is that because of how young we are, the sky is the limit. Some of our players can improve as the weeks go by, which will make the defensive unit much better as a whole. Holding South Carolina to a mere 13 points was a win for the defense, and I hope that we can carry that confidence and swagger into our next few games.
Overall, it wasn’t a pretty win but sometimes you get into these type of games and you have to work hard for the win. We have played these close, defensive games before and have won some of them, such as LSU 2006 (7-3) and MSU 2008 (3-2) and with Chizik’s record in close games we can always count on the team giving it all in the final seconds. As I watched this game I kept seeing tweets on my timeline calling the game “boring”. It made me laugh, since we’ve had these type of games under Tuberville and no matter how bad our team is, I know there are some people out there who will continue to get excited over games and support the team through the bad times.
Offensively, we aren’t very good right now but I trust that can improve under Malzahn. It was good to see Dyer get more carries and it certainly was exciting watching Frazier break out runs as if he was that Quarterback we had last year. Frazier’s role will continue to grow, and in yesterday’s sunday presser, this is what Chizik had to say about Frazier.
I dont think Frazier can run the offense in it’s entirety right now, we won’t expand Frazier’s role beyond what we think he can handle.
It pretty much enforces the fact that Trotter knows the offense better than Frazier, and Kiehl will continue to be that change of pace Quarterback that we will need going forward. The more weapons we can develop behind Dyer, Lutz and Blake the better the offense will be, and Frazier is looking to become one of those weapons.
It also looks like Trovon Reed will be out this Saturday as well, and possibly even Blake. Losing Blake would hurt immensely since he is our best receiver by far, the one man who will now have to step up into Blake’s role (should he not play) is Benton. Benton has the chance now to put it all together and help us win the game on Saturday, and he should get plenty of first team reps this week. We need to develop a solid second receiver so if Benton can become that, it will really help Trotter (and most importantly please yours truly).I also really hope Chris Davis will be able to play this week too, we need as much help as we can get if we are going to limit the vast array of weapons that Wilson has to throw to.
There was also some controversy at the end of the game regarding the clock. The truth is that there should have been one second left on the clock after the catch, that I’m not disputing, but I doubt the Cocks would have had enough time to set up for the field goal and get the special teams on the field in time. That is the truth of the matter.
This win also goes a long way into determining what bowl game we may end up in, we won’t be finishing the year 11-1 but right now 7-8 wins is not out of reach. We have four wins, there are two more pretty much guaranteed wins in Samford and Ole Miss so that makes six. If we can get two wins out of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama or LSU we can finish 8-4, just like I thought we would before the season began, but as always we will take it one week at a time.
I was happy with the win and I won’t complain about the offense sputtering since we have been spoilt with the offensive results of the last few years, which in itself means that you have to trust that Malzahn will make the necessary changes for the offense to be more productive. October has started brightly, and I hope it continues.
One down, four to go.