Mind bullets! Oodles of good quotes coming out of the post-game reaction, but this one’s my favorite:
Chris Todd: “Coach (Chizik) always talks about imposters during a game and we had to take them down with our will. We had to react to the situation as we always knew we could come back from the deficit.”
I think Auburn’s win had more to do with, say, Mario Fannin being fast and hard to tackle than some nebulous cliche like “who wanted it more,” but do I like the idea that Todd’s will was so strong that it moved Brown’s screen pass the inch necessary to make it deflect off of Devine’s fingertips on the Ricks interception? Or moved Brown just off-balance enough to make him keep the ball on Blanc’s or Washington’s sacks? Oh yeah, I do.
More. Chizik confirms the conventional wisdom that tackling was Auburn’s biggest defensive problem. Anthony Gulley’s been able to avoid muffing punts in part because he’s a baseball player. Roof was able to keep a promise that Auburn would win the game if they caused four turnovers (though that’s a pretty thick limb he was on there, you have to say). Trott was happy to play in his first shootout, what with being redshirted for the 2005 fireworks. Auburn’s special teams didn’t allow a punt return yard Saturday but now rank 99th in kickoff coverage.
Quickie injury update: Hawthorne saw time and should see more going forward, Etheridge is fine after pulling up lame on Stevens’ pick-six.
Speaking of which … the people who decide on SEC Defensive Player of the Week must put a lot of stock in pick-sixes, because Stevens is the second straight Auburn player to win the award. (The 11 tackles probably didn’t hurt.)
Why is there such a thing as an Auburner? Because whether you know it or not, we have to have someone who’ll set the WVU highlights to the absolutely pitch-perfect Meat Loaf track “Alive.” You can watch the video in TWER’s own “Featured Video” slot over there on the right hand side of the page, but do take the time to visit the Auburner and tell them how awesome they are.
Elsewhere in the blAUgosphere: Will hits us with his WVU postgame thoughts and he’s on the money as always:
In 2009, having watched the films and noted the national statistics, WVU committed to stopping the run and attacking AU’s defense where it is still thin and relatively inexperienced. For that first five minutes (and sporadically for the remainder of the game) the strategy worked quite well, but it wasn’t enough. This time around, Auburn was able to adapt and find advantages outside of their prior comfort zones, and that was what made all the difference.
Last year all a defense really had to do was stack the line to stop Auburn; no combination of AU quarterbacks or receivers were a serious threat to beat you through the air. In 2009, as the Mountaneers learned, that ain’t the case, and the Tigers’ production is no longer limited to one or two guys. Chris Todd to Darvin Adams is rightfully getting a lot of ink this week, but look a little deeper and you’ll also find those nice wheel routes to Eric Smith and Mario Fannin coming out of the backfield. Fannin’s monstrous, untouched 82-yard romp in the third quarter was the real play of the game. It signaled that West Virginia’s defense was gassed, and shortly afterwards WVU’s offensive coaches pushed the panic button, abandoning the run for the duration.
Read the rest. Also recommended: Acid’s report card, JRS says Chris Todd for Heisman as only he can, and Rob Pate notes that the team responded to being down two scores better than he did (a note I’ll gladly co-sign).
TWER. Because they can’t wait ’til the next edition of “This Week at TWER,” do check out Kevin Strickland’s report on the waterproof Auburn fans, his Rocky analogy, and a dead-on bit of analysis about why Auburn might have needed that regime change after all:
No disrespect to former coach Tommy Tuberville, whose teams won their share of thrilling, emotional, nationally relevant games, but digging out of a hole when the opponent had momentum was not one of the strong points of his Tiger teams.
Arkansas 27, Auburn 10
Georgia 35, Auburn 17
Arkansas 42, Auburn 17
Alabama 31, Auburn 7
Arkansas 38, Auburn 17
West Virginia 34, Auburn 17
Those were the resulting scores when an Andrew Zow or a Fred Talley or a David Greene or a Noel Devine got hot against a Tiger defense.
I’ll echo the “no disrespect” disclaimer, but you also have to echo that Kevin’s exactly right about this offense giving Auburn a chance to erase deficits that Tubby’s O’s did only on the rarest of occasions.
Auburn scored 37 points just once in 2008. It’s yet to score less than 37 points in a game so far in 2009.
Tony Barnhart is happy for Chris Todd.
Balloting. Andy Bitter finds the one AP voter who’s maybe a little too impressed with Auburn’s start. Also impressed: CNF at TeamSpeedKills, who says Auburn has “the best resume” of any team in the country. ESPN’s Power Rankings have Auburn 23rd, FWIW. (Oh, and their Bowl Projections say “Independence” on one hand and “Chick-Fil-A” on the other. FYI.)
Etc. The Tennessee game will be Auburn’s fifth straight night game, which I’m personally fine with but see why some Auburn fans will be, uh, less fine with … Auburn’s soccer teams shuts out No. 1 North Carolina for a draw, and if you’re not familiar with the juggernaut that is UNC women’s soccer, trust me, this is a big deal … Auburn opens up somewhere between a 27- and 31-point favorite over Ball St.
Photo by TWER’s Kevin Strickland.