Yes, I think this could be improved upon. So, just how bad have the Auburn punt teams been so far? Andrew Gribble counts the ways:
The Tigers sit 114th in the country in average punt return and 117th in net punting after a special-teams day to forget Saturday against Mississippi State. Auburn also regressed after a strong first week of kick return defense, dropping from 57th to 88th in the nation …
“We’re not getting any production,” Chizik said. “When the punt returner catches the ball, we tell him he needs to get us a first down.”
Fannin has fair caught all but one of his attempts and his only return went for negative yardage. Washington has returned four, but has just 7 yards to show for it — even after a 9-yard return Saturday.
It’s just not accurate to say Auburn’s lack of depth hasn’t hurt them so far. No complaints offensively, obviously, and what impact there’s been on defense has been negligible. But when every available scholarship body is already committed to 50-plus plays on offense or defense, that means there’s not many left over for special teams, and the result is a host of defenders in the punt returner’s face, a missed assignment on punt protection, just a slightly slower reaction time on kickoff coverage.
So Jay Boulware has his work cut out for him. At the same time: this is his unit, and not only is it not producing, it’s not close to producing. This week’s opponent will make Auburn pay dearly for the mistakes they made against last week’s opponent if they repeat themselves.
He made a funny! I guess the Chiznick just had to win a couple games before loosening his humor belt, or something:
While Ziemba worked as a distraction on the play (You know the one–ed.), Chizik said the tackle wouldn’t be any more than that.
“He looked like he was hungry for that thing,” Chizik said. “Just let me assure you that will never happen, no matter how much he yells for it out there.”
Wow, coach. I actually LOL’d. (Of course, remembering the image of Ziemba frantically waving for the ball in a fashion that screamed DIVERSION DIVERSION REAL PLAY GOING ON ELSEWHERE DIVERSION helped make it funny.) Also worth blockquoting, from that same Luke Brietzke post:
Even if the tempo costs Auburn’s defense better statistics, defensive coordinator Ted Roof is willing to accept it in exchange for wins.
“I don’t care how fast. I just want to win,” Roof said. “As long as we win, that’s a wonderful thing. So we’ve had lots of discussions about it as a staff, but that’s what we do and that’s what we hang our hat on and we’re all in.”
Emphasis mine because yeah, I bet there’s been a discussion or two about that.
Three more notes from the Auburn beat: with 21-22 players seeing the field for Auburn’s defense over just 59 defensive snaps, this week shouldn’t have been quite as grueling for the starters as last week; McCalebb loves Ben Tate “like a brother”; and Jay Tate notes the irony in a coach with an incentives-based contract claiming not to care about public acclamation.
Recognize. Antonio Coleman is your SEC Defensive Player of the Week, despite the fact that we all know he’s going to have even better weeks than this one.
Everybody loves Gus. Or at least the state’s newspaper columnists do: both Josh Moon and K-Scar have published paeans to Mad Dr. Gustav, Scarbinsky’s pointing out–accurately, I have to say–that Tubby’s inability to recognize the Malzahn bandwagon as one that needed jumping on helps explain why his offense was coordinated at various times by Noel Mazzone, Steve Ensminger/Hugh Nall, and Tony Franklin.
Reax. You know things are going well when even Will’s postgame write-up is downright effusive. While we’realking about Tubby, this was an intriguing tidbit:
Tuberville’s habit of playing not to lose grated on many, not least including one G. Chizik; according to many reports, the former defensive coordinator was not remotely happy to see his offensive counterparts ordered to shut things down in the second half, most notably against Georgia in 2002 and in the 2005 Sugar Bowl. For good or for ill, those days appear to be over in Auburn. In both of the first two games, the Tigers have gone full-bore two minute drill at the end of the second quarter (scoring both times), and continued to pour on the offense in the second half.
All those who are happier with a head coach and an offensive coordinator who put the hammer down at all times raise your hand. Let’s see, that’s everyone, isn’t it? As expected.
Also in the blAUgosphere, the Auburner accurately describes the state of positive bewilderment we’re all dwelling in right now (complete with Malzahn book excerpt!), Acid Reign issues his usual post-game report card, and new Auburn blog Eyes on Auburn features analysis and obervations both from former Auburn defensive star Rob Pate and WBE commenter DrZ. Recommend you add the site to your feed reader sooner rather than later.
Oh, and Fields of Donahue has a quick visual report on FAST McCalebb’s hairstylings.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Auburn’s still got lots of work to do to slide their way into the polls (apparently), but they’ve impressed a few people, namely Kirk Herbstreit, who’d already won himself some fans on the Plains with his optimism regarding the Chiznick and now likely has a few more after voting Auburn 17th. Also high on the Tigers: CFN, who has Auburn No. 11 in their latest rankings. Best offensive performance-to-date in the country or not, even I think 11th is a wee bit high given the level of Auburn’s competition so far.
Etc. Seriously, Roger Federer is a tennis robot from space.