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Notes from the Beat, 10/19

First one of these in 30 years, and it's still not enough. Sigh.
First one of these in 30 years, and it's still not enough. Sigh.

It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. Those of you looking for confirmation the media powers-that-be needed just one flimsy excuse to shaft Auburn with a mighty shafting, look no further than this week’s TV announcements: the LSU game will be aired on ESPN2 while those noted media darlings Mississippi St. get the plum ESPN slot with Nessler and Blackledge. (OK, so Florida being in Starkville maaaaaaybe has something to do with that.) The following week, it’s our long-awaited return to early kickoffs with an 11:21 date against Ole Miss. (At least it’s at 11:21 as opposed to 11 sharp, and, oh yeah, Auburn will be at home.) Is one 5-7 season topped by one silly loss to Kentucky really enough to lower Auburn’s Q factor to these kind of levels?

It is? Especially in a league featuring the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 teams and a boatload of other hyper-telegenic coaches and programs? OK, so it is. All the more reason for Auburn to finish this year on the highest note possible: with CBS’s dominion over the late afternoon slot, if you’re not playing the biggest game of the week, you’re playing at night or at 11.

The Toro. Chizik says his understanding of the defense just isn’t strong enough yet:

“We’ve got to work toward getting him a better grasp of what’s happening,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “And you’ve got to remember, he missed a lot of football through two-a-days and through the beginning of the season, so he’s just got to get caught up, and really that’s it.”

All that’s true, I’m sure … but didn’t Herring come back from his heel surgery right before the start of the season? Why was he able to grasp things so much more quickly? (Two years of being at Auburn as opposed to two years at JUCO, duh.)

There wasn’t much else to report from Chizik’s Sunday presser–he says the offense’s struggles are about “execution” rather than scheme and that Todd is still the unquestioned starter, but I don’t think anybody was expecting him to come out and say “Yeah, I think Kentucky’s DC might have just figured Gus out, that’s an issue” or “The possibility of replacing our starting quarterback has been discussed, sure, what’s the big deal?”

Oh, one more thing: McCalebb, as you might have guessed from watching him on Saturday, still isn’t 100 percent.

We talking about practice. Twice in that late Sunday Andy Bitter post, we hear that Sunday was a good practice. Roof said “You can tell it ripped the [defense]’s guts out” and Trott says that Todd rebounded and reasserted himself. The reports that last week was a good week of practice ended up not going anywhere, I suppose, but it’s still better than the alternative.

Yes, I think that’s an issue. From a Charles Goldberg “what’s wrong?” kind of story:

It doesn’t take a coach to see where Todd wants to go with his passes. Of the wide receivers, Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery have 47 of the 55 catches, or a staggering 85.5 percent of the wideout catches. They had the seven wide receiver catches against Kentucky.

It’s pretty simple, I think: if Auburn’s not going to substitute in mid-drive, Fannin, Smith, and Burns–who are on the field–have to make plays downfield as well as  close to the line of scrimmage.

Etc. Gabe McKenzie is contributing again, which is nice to see … Neiko Thorpe thinks he should have scored a week earlier … Chizik’s not sure if there’s a connection between playing the same three linebackers and two safeties every snap of the game opposite an offense that ignores time-of-possession and missed tackles in the fourth quarter. It’s quite the mystery, I tell you.

Photo by Van Emst.

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