Chick-Fil-A Bowl Preview: Time To End 2011 On A High Note
We are now in the midst of Bowl season, which means the Chick-Fil-A Bowl is almost here. There’s been very little buzz around any of the current bowl games but I expect that to change when 2012 kicks in, the same thing happened last year, we went from light discussions straight into full BCS bowl hype mode when new years struck, and that should happen again this year (technically next year?). The only match-up that the media seems to truly care about is the National Championship game, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Moving on, it’s time for Auburn to play their final game of the season, which comes against Virginia, an 8-4 ACC opponent that since 2010, has had its fortunes reversed, when they posted a poor 4-8 record Mike London turned it around in his second year and finished the regular season with 8 wins, with two signature wins over ranked Georgia Tech and Florida State.
I get the feeling that Auburn fans aren’t too excited over this game, I’m personally quite grateful to play in a bowl game, just a year ago fans were on their way to Glendale ready to watch Auburn play in their first ever BCS National Championship game. Obviously, it’s a big step down from that but we shouldn’t lose perspective, many “experts” predicted that Auburn wouldn’t even make a bowl game back in the summer, so it’s not all doom and gloom around these parts.
Virginia will pose a challenge for this Auburn squad, which is struggling to find it’s identity even this late in the season. Many Auburn fans believed that the Outback Bowl was a stepping stone for the Championship season, so we need to treat this game the same way, let’s sell out the dome, play a great game and take that confidence into next season.
Chizik has taken over the defence this off-season, implementing his own coaching strategies and attempting to turn around a defence that struggled throughout the season. Several players have told the media about the difference in Chizik’s coaching to Roof’s, saying things like Chizik is a much more strict coach, and according to Therezie they just “ran around” under Roof, now it’s about fundamentals and making things simpler.
Chizik’s record as a DC cannot be argued against, he’s coached two championship caliber defences, one of which rewarded him with a championship ring. With the coaches upping the tempo, I hope to see a much better defensive effort against Virginia, their offense averaged 23.2 points per game through the season, so it’s not totally out of reach.
Offensively, we may struggle without Dyer, but I still expect us to put up (at least) 16 points. If we are still struggling to pass the ball, I hope Mason can step up in Dyer’s absence and McCalebb to do his thing smoothly. Auburn’s offense struggled at times in the season, and I expect either Mosely or Frazier to step up in this game and handle the offense pretty well. The fan-base believes Frazier will be the man eventually, if he can put his mark on this game then that may give him an advantage going into next year, and may settle any questions at that position too. It’s important we develop a quarterback by 2012, other-wise there will be minimum improvement.
Prediction: Auburn 20-10 Virginia
I think our offense may struggle at times in the game, but I expect the defence to turn it up a notch and contain Virginia for the whole game. It is wishful thinking, after watching the defense this year but if there is one man that can get the most out of the defense it’s Chizik, him being the DC should be an advantage.
Bowl-season is always fun, and I say we finish our 2011 season on a high note. With the Dyer suspension (and return doubtful), and the lack of coordinators, Auburn fans are clinging on anywhere for good news, but good news comes to those who wait. Sure, it’s frustrating but hang in there, I have a feeling good news is right around the corner.
Have a good day folks, and beat the Cavs!Follow @rosscollings