Chick-Fil-A Bowl Review: 2011 Ends With A Bang
I’d say that was a pretty nice way to end the season, don’t you? Auburn defeated the Virginia Cavaliers in Atlanta, GA 43-24 and will never look back, it feels pretty good to say that, considering how many fans are still thinking about those bad losses we suffered through the season and how it may affect us for the next season. In a way I am happy to see the season end, 2011 brought us a lot of frustration and confusing moments, from having teams dominate us, to running back draws on 3rd and long.
There were question marks to how motivated and focused this team were prior to kick-off, with rumours of Dyer transferring, coordinator searches and probably the emotional drop of playing in Phoenix 11 months ago, to playing just up the road 11 months later. The players took it in stride, and played a game that Auburn fans needed to see, we finally beat a team comfortably.
The game itself was a fun one, and a rare one for that matter, the last time I generally enjoyed a game from start to finish was probably the last time we played in the Georgia Dome, I’m sure South Carolina fans remember that one very well. Though later than expected, Auburn found it’s offense and kept the foot on the gas through the whole game, Malzahn wanted to go out with a bang and putting up 40 points for the first time since Ole Miss, without our star running back certainly did that.
Mosely got injured early, and Trotter came in and took over the offense, except for the few exceptions each drive where Frazier would handle the QB draw. Trotter did a good job from start to finish, people questioned his arm and what kind of player he was, he faded off the scale as the season went on, but came back and did what was asked of him. The offense clicked, he made a few nice throws, including a bomb to Emory Blake which was arguably the best throw of his career.
I was really impressed with his performance, though rumours of him leaving the team were strife, I have no doubt that he will stick around next year for his senior season.
McCalebb had a nice game as well, tallying 109 rushing yards and a score, as well as two receptions for 53 yards and another score. He was the main focal point of the offense and clearly the star of the game, people have an issue with him running out of bounds on almost every run, but the truth is that he isn’t built like a Michael Dyer or a Trent Richardson, he is a speedster and I’d rather he live to fight another day. Though there are questions regarding his NFL value, his value to Auburn is high, he is the change of pace back and once he gets space, it’s an un-winnable race.
The defense wasn’t perfect, giving up 24 total points and almost 300 yards of offense in the first half, and although struggles were existent, there seemed to be a tougher grit to the defense and special teams. Guys were fighting hard every play and were trying to make game changing plays. Chris Davis did his best impression of The Honey Badger, stripping the ball off the receiver and securing a turnover, you need those players who make the big plays when they are most needed, and over the course of the season, Chris Davis has shown that ability.
The Special Teams was impressive, true freshman Angelo Blackson came up with a blocked punt, which resulted in a safety, and sophomore Garrett Harper came up with another blocked punt, whatever you may think of Harper, he made a terrific play which certainly turned the momentum our way, the following drive Auburn put in Frazier who ran in for the score.
Big plays win games, and there was no shortage of them through this game, players stepped up and acted like football players, that’s all you can ask for, and we certainly received it.
Auburn gave a big middle finger to critics yesterday, they played hard and never gave up, several media members believe that Auburn is in a crisis and will fall off the face off the earth forever. An 8-5 season after a National Championship can’t be considered a disaster can it? The team is still suffering from the effects of near distant recruiting, the team still hasn’t filled out every scholarship available and probably won’t for a while, when you want to judge on how well this team has done, consider this piece of information:
@AUGoldmine: Auburn football strength of schedule 4th toughest in nation, says NCAA
When you take that, and consider how many and how much freshman played, winning 8 games including a bowl game was a pretty good season considering. There were a lot of critics, I was one of them, the truth is that this team has lots of room to grow, and will have an off-season of returning almost every player, as well as (hopefully) keeping McCalebb, Blake and Lutzenkirchen for another year.
Sure this team has issues, but there is no doubt in the programmes fight against adversity, Chizik has always drilled into the team how important it is to not give up, and to continue fighting and challenging whatever you’re up against. It’s the reason why we fought hard yesterday, it’s the reason why we have a winning record, it’s the reason why Auburn is Auburn.
To anyone expecting Auburn to disappear, you are way off the scale.
‘Till next time.