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Plainslinks curses fate

BOOOOOOOOOOOO.
BOOOOOOOOOOOO.

It’s as bad as you feared. Blutarsky recently took the time to look up the SEC’s penalty leaders and penalties-committed-against leaders, and you will never guess who leads the league in fewest penalties committed-against. No, I’m telling you, there’s not even any point in guessing ,because you will be totally shocked.

Oh, all right, you can make one guess. One. Have you made it? Because it’s time to reveal the answer:

penaltiesThat’s right–it’s Auburn! I’m as stunned as you are!

Look, we know a couple of things here:

1. Non-calls that favor Auburn’s opponents are not the reason the sky has fallen in

2. Very roughly speaking, good teams do tend to draw more opponent’s penalties than poorer teams. Star DEs draw holds, explosive receivers get interfered with more often, etc. There’s a reason both the Tide and Gators are top-5 here and Vandy and Auburn are at the bottom.

However: for Auburn to not only be last in the league but last by nearly seven yards’ worth of penalties a game–the gap between Auburn and Vandy is nearly as wide as the gap between Vandy and No. 6 Miss. St.–is just 99.4 percent pure bad luck. Maybe you can justify it as karmic backlash for West Virginia so kindly donating so many backbreaking turnovers to the Tiger cause, but I think by now that bill has been paid in full. We’re ready for our breaks whenever you feel like offering, Mr. Officials.

(Of course, this wouldn’t be nearly so big a deal–and it’s not that big a deal, really, I know–if Auburn wasn’t also near the bottom of the league in penalties committed themselves. Physician, heal thyself, and all that.)

The Toro speaks. And God bless ‘im:

On if he thought about leaving: “I didn’t even think about leaving. The program’s too great to leave. (Emphasis added. –ed.) We have great coaches. Great players. Everybody’s great. Coach Chizik saw that I was really down. I was down coming to practice. I wasn’t the same Eltoro. He told me to take a break, relax, regroup. That’s what I did.”

But Gene Chizik doesn’t know how to handle a team and doesn’t earn the respect of his players. Right. Plenty more where that came from here.

Elsewhere on the beat, Malzahn diagnoses his offense’s primary issue:

“The bottom of line is having enough passing yards to keep them off balance. We’ve not been able to do that. We’ve been one-dimensional, and in this league, if you’re one-dimensional, it’s extremely tough.”

Yup. Also, Walt McFadden says he’s going to ask Patrick Trahan to bring his checkbook with him and Ryan Pugh reaffirms that the team is behind Todd as the starter (also at that link: Antoine Carter is talking smack again, which is a good sign).

BlAUgosphere. Lookin’ around:

— At Track ‘Em, Acid’s postgame grades are always recommended and you’ve probably already read Jay’s timely call for Auburn solidarity, seeing as how I’ve had it e-mailed to me in its entirety by two different people–no link, author unattributed–and even seen it anonymously reposted on another Auburn blog.

This has been a problem with a handful of artciles here at TWER as well, so let me take this moment to address this and speak to the nameless faceless Internet asswipes: Stop stealing our stuff. C&P a quote or two and add a link back to where you got it. At the very least mention who wrote the thing you’re passing on. Neither the TWER writers nor Jay nor anyone else in the blAUgosphere are Auburn Content Robots who churn blog posts off of an assembly line and care not what happens to them afterwards. We need credit. Can’t speak for Jay, but we need the traffic. Desperately. Give us a link and quit thieving, please and thank you. [/rant]

Anyway, Jay mentions Saban’s 6-6 first season as a reason not to panic, but Auburn has competition for claiming the Coachbot as a role model.

— Will ain’t happy:

Try as I might, I can’t see how you don’t look at this team and think that the wheels have come off. As to what that says about the young Gene Chizik era, the best thing I can say is that first years are rarely indicative of future performance (here’s the canonical example). Recruiting and attrition have been so horrendous recently, Auburn might as well have been on probation for the past three years; the Tigers are playing with at least fifteen fewer scholarships than their opponents, and one glance at the defense tells you that in terms of SEC talent, things are even worse than that.

But even a team with limited numbers can play with discipline, and keep fighting on every play. Auburn’s not doing either one right now, and that’s a damning indictment of a coaching staff that certainly appears to have lost their team, and their way.

I’m not sure Auburn stopped fighting against LSU–certainly not when the game was still even remotely in doubt, if ever–but the point about discipline is well taken.

The Auburner has some typcially must-read midseason words of wisdom, and even a little something extra for the kids.

Sports that are not football. We will take our victories where we can get them, yes we will:

The Auburn volleyball team outplayed rival Alabama, sweeping the Crimson Tide, 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-22), on Friday at the Student Activities Center. The win marks just the second time since 1999 that the Tigers have defeated their in-state foe.

Suck it, ‘Bama. The Volleytigers went on to sweep Miss. St. on Sunday, making this already Auburn’s best season of the decade with around a third of the schedule still to play. It’s also Auburn’s best start in SEC play since 1999. So if you see Wade Benson around town–oh, and you’ll need to know he looks like this–make sure you give him a good shake of the hand.

On the soccer pitch, senior striker Rebecca Howard was named the SEC Player of the Week after leading Auburn to a pair of huge wins, one over No. 19 Georgia–Auburn’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 2007–and 3-1 over Tennessee in Knoxville, Auburn’s first-ever win over the Vols. The W’s clinched Auburn’s ninth consecutive trip to the SEC tournament. Next up is the Tide in the season finale; a win could push Auburn as high as fourth in the final league table.

Here’s where the good news ends: Another member of the Auburn women’s hoops team’s projected starting lineup–junior forward Reneisha Hobbs, a key reserve during last year’s run to the SEc title–is lost for the season with a torn ACL. Looks likely it’ll take Nell Fortner more than one season to recapture the magic of 2008-2009, but the nice thing is that we pretty much know she’ll recapture it eventually.

Etc. I lol’d.

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