Hold those four fingers high, gentlemen. I could pick out 47 different developments from Saturday night and claim each of them were the “most positive” or “most satisfying” from the Auburn fan perspective, but for the purposes of starting this post, let’s go with “Instead of building early lead and helplessly watching it crumble as defense exhausts itself and offense sputters, Auburn physically overwhelms opponent in second half with superior conditioning and focus, leading to larger lead and eventually comfortable victory.”
So, again, it’s not 2008 anymore, and Lee Ziemba says it wasn’t just our imagination:
“It was nice to see them wear down a little bit,” said Ziemba, who is 30 pounds heavier than last year. “We don’t see it against our defense in practice much because they’re right in shape with us, running that every day. It was good to see the other guy bending over and putting his hands on hips, tired.”
Emphasis added because the general expectation has been that Malzahn’s offense would wear our Auburn’s defense and cause defensive problems rather than improvements at game’s end. For one game, at least, the opposite was true: thanks to having to keep up with Spread Eagle 2.0 in practice, Auburn’s defense appeared to be in such good shape that Tech’s offense couldn’t keep up.
Who knows if that’ll hold true in every game–a series of Auburn three-and-outs to start the game could still be major trouble–but it’s still an unbelievably refreshing way to start after the post-halftime issues we saw last year.
More. There’s a ton of interesting quotes at that same Andy Bitter post, including an encouraging one from Todd that seems to confirm the WBE hypothesis that having confidence in his rebuilt arm could lead to better decision-making. Ted Roof wasn’t quite as high on Nick Fairley as the fans might have been. The odds are getting better on Freeman’s return, but Chizik is “playing it by ear.” Also, he wants the offense to be even quicker. Josh Bynes doesn’t Twitter and was impressed that Adam Herring played 55 plays after only a week of practice. (I am also impressed, and a little worried.) If the wideouts don’t wind up catching passes, Chris Todd wants a shot at it. And the Wildcat is “a hair away” from being more productive.
That was FAST because he’s FAST. Onterio “FAST” McCallebb took all of one week to scoop up an honor from the league, becoming the SEC’s Freshman of the Week. Here’s what’s cool: I bet he’s got much bigger weeks ahead of him this season, given that he never quite broke completely loose against Tech, save for the one time he did when Burns tripped him up anyway. He’s going to have a week somewhere along the line where he busts a couple of 50-yarders. I bet.
Read or lose. Will Collier’s post-game write-ups have been must-reads for as long as I’ve been doing this blogging thing, and this season’s first edition is no different. Money quote:
In the immediate aftermath of Gene Chizik’s hiring, a number of articles and blog posts popped up out of Ames, Iowa complaining about the kind of things that had made Doug Barfield’s inauspicious tenure in Auburn the anti-legends they are today: poor game planning, chaos on the sidelines, indecision at key moments, and a general state of haphazard-ness that allegedly permeated the Cyclone program. Happily, there were no signs of any such foul-ups in Chizik’s Auburn debut. When a team with an entirely brand-new staff, including their third brand-new offense in as many years, has exactly one off-sides penalty and no delay of game penalties in their first outing, that speaks quite well of the level of preparation and organization on the part of the coaching staff.
In a word: yes. (Will also took a moment to express some, um, skepticism regarding John Chavis’s upcoming tenure in Baton Rouge. Both posts are recommended.)
Incoming. Rivals finally got around to ranking the kickers of the class of 2010, and hey, check out who’s on top of the list. Kicker evaluation has to be the most imperfect part of the entire highly imperfect science, but saying Auburn’s signing the No. 1 kicker in the country still has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Wheeeeeee. This is the most fun one of these things I’ve ever posted:
That comes courtesy, as always, of Rocky Top Talk.
Jerks. Understanding that the anecdote begins by saying that “99%” of Tide fans at the Georgia Dome were cordial, the brief encounter related here by a Virginia Tech fan is too perfect not to pass on. (Via.) (It would be just unfair of me to contrast that little story with the comments made by visiting La. Tech fans about Auburn, so I won’t.But if you want to compare them yourself, well, there’s nothing I can do to stop you.)
Meanwhile, “Nick Saban: Horse’s Ass” is a headline on par with “Earth: Revolves Around the Sun” for its non-shockingness, but hey, just so you know, Saban is a horse’s ass.
This does not change the fact, of course, that his team was every bit as good in beating Virginia Tech as it was in beating Clemson the year before, damn him.
Etc. The Pigskin Pathos reacts to the game … I guess part of being an Outsider is not knowing much about the careers of Chris Todd and Ryan Mallett … the three of you out there who care about soccer can join me in mourning the arrival of corporate, ruthlessly efficient, physical, boring Brazil over their samba-driven predecessors.
*If you’d like to join me, click here.
Photo via Van Emst.