— Repeated as below: if Zac Etheridge isn’t all right, today is not a good day.
— That said: Hell yes! War Eagle! Crow never tasted so good.
— This is the end of the griping about Ted Roof and the defense, right? 13 points (and a net of 6, right?) given up to that bunch–even after, what, four different drives that started in Auburn territory?–is a fantastic performance. Having a healthy Antonio Coleman and an active Toro makes Mr. Roof look just a bit better, huh? That Auburn managed with Slade in for Etheridge makes it even more impressive.
— Meanwhile, that brain-meltingly awful “fumble” aside, no complaints from here about Todd and the offense. They put up 24 points and actually moved the ball through the air against a defense that had yet to give up more than 22 or let anyone throw the ball like that yet this year. Yeah, it would have been nice to have gotten an icing TD somewhere there in the second half of the 3rd/the 4th, but they did enough to win the game, and isn’t that’s what important?
— Your bottom line: Auburn will be 7-5 at worst this year, with a road win over Tennessee and double-digit wins over Ole Miss and West Virginia. If you don’t think that’s a solid-bordering-on-terrific coaching job by this staff, you’re on crack.
— Again, what he’s gotten out of this offense has been remarkable, but I still think Gus’s third-down play-calling could use some improvement. Auburn once again never ran the ball on 3rd-and-4 or 5, and despite having a little more success via the air on those sorts of plays, I’d like to see at least a couple of draws in those situations–especially on the opponent’s half of the field, where going for it on 4th down is a possibility.
— Between Tate and Fannin, running back is still Auburn’s deepest position, and that’s even with McCalebb out.
— Seriously, I need to make a second shout-out to Coleman. He was a monster.
— All right, Daren Bates. I love his enthusiasm. I love his willingness to fly around the field. I love that he’s been mostly solid, especially in pass defense, even as a true freshman. As a general rule I’m even fine with that hand gesture he does after every single tackle, because it’s harmless and he’s 18 years old and I enjoy seeing displays of personality from Auburn’s players in a sport that does its best to turn its performers into faceless gladiators. (Sorry; I’m digressing.) But: I never want to see Auburn’s players celebrating in any kind of fashion when the opposition’s players are down hurt, and seeing Bates make the gesture a second time even after the Ole Miss trainers had taken the field to tend to McCluster–especially after the Etheridge injury–was, well, something I did not love.
— Could someone explain to me how Auburn has gotten so damn good at blocking placekicks? Even if it didn’t look it on the scoreboard, the extra-point return was a huge play–without it, Ole Miss kicks a field goal on their next-to-last possession and cuts the lead to 7.
— Auburn deserved the victory, but it’s also safe to say that it turns out the breaks Auburn didn’t get over the past three weeks had more-or-less been saved up for today. Which, hey, fine, whatever. That’s football.
— Enjoy the rest of your Saturday and I’ll be back tomorrow … or, if you want to follow along on Twitter, I’ll be popping up there from time to time the remainder of the day.
War Damn Eagle. And here’s to Zac Etheridge: hope to see ya soon.
SECOND MID-THIRD QUARTER UPDATE
–I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorry I’ll never update joyously in the middle of a game again I swear on everything holy
MID-THIRD QUARTER UPDATE
— WOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOOOO WOOOOOOOOO
— First of all: win, lose, decisive victory, blowout loss, whatever — Today is a good day if Zac Etheridge is OK. For whatever it’s worth to you, we’re all behind ya, Zac. If you’re all right, everything’s all right.
— Oh man, a halftime lead. I’m all tingly.
— It’s funny how football coaches swear up and down, all the time, about how it takes the entire team to win, it’s everybody’s fault when they lose and everyone’s credit when they win … but after those two quarters I can’t help but think about how massive a difference it makes for two players–Chris Todd and Eltoro Freeman–to be on their games. The offense struggled at times, but when you’re not picking up 3rd/4th-and-1, Trott’s dropping sure first downs, a first-down option loses 6, etc., that’s hardly Todd’s fault. With the exception of one throw–that first bomb to Zachery–he’s been money.
— We Auburn fans have been begging for some help from the officials for weeks now, and I think that debt is just about paid in full about that video reversal. Yes, I think the ball hit the ground. But how you could be 100 percent positive of that after viewing the replays we saw, I don’t know. And I don’t think there’s much doubt that that was major, major tuning point of the half. What goes around–as in, say, that terrible spot on Tate’s 3rd-and-1 run– does, as they say, come around.
— Like I’ve been saying: the D is all right when they’re not committing penalties. It’s been immensely helpful that Snead is off and that his receivers haven’t done much for him, but 7 points allowed to an offense with that kind of talent is 7 points is 7 points. Keep it up for another half, and I think Auburn gets a victory. Whether they can or not, well, we’ll see.
— If there’s a better all-around skill position player in the country than Dexter McCluster, I haven’t seen him. It’s hard for me to have any kind of respect for Ole Miss’s offensive coaches when they spent the first half of the season giving him the ball 10 times a game or whatever.
— Let’s go, Auburn. Let’s go, Zac Etheridge. War Eagle.
First, an announcement. I’ll let J.M. handle it:
“What happens when you hold a last-minute contest (our ‘Sometimes you feel like a Nutt’ Photoshop contest) and only one entry rolls in?
We here at The War Eagle Reader could feel glum, I guess. But we don’t. Not with the entry being as breathtakingly apt and horrifying as the winning entry turned out to be. Mark at that solid rock of a site for all-things Auburn and wonderful, The Auburner, sent in this home run Natural-style lights-shattering grand slam (That’s more like it–ed.):
His prize is our undying admiration and two tickets for today’s game from TWER‘s new columnist Auburn Elvis.”
Jerry again: this Photoshop should be hung in a gallery somewhere. The beauty of Todd at the controls makes me want to weep, the way people are supposed to at operas but I don’t believe anyone ever really does. Huge, huge ups to Mark and I hope he enjoys the game. Speaking of …
War Eagle. See you at halftime for some insta-analysis.
— There hasn’t been much to report at all on the Auburn news beat the past 48 hours or so. It sounds more likely than ever that Mario Fannin will be taking on McCalebb’s carries–and that Zach Clayton won’t be playing, if that still qualifies as news–but there’s nothing else game-wise to tell you at this early hour. Assuming my ISP cooperates this week, I’ll update just before kickoff with anything late-breaking.
— Previewin’: Andy Bitter foresees an Ole Miss win, Rob Pate and Dr. Z both think it’s the Rebels’ week at Eyes on Auburn, as does Joe Auburn … though at least he’s got a sweet (and timely) Tigers-as-Frankenstein analogy.
— Also, do please check out some of other quality content here at TWER: on the occasion of Ray Cotton’s team returning to the Plains, J.M. looks back at the Friday night he caught both Tubby and the one-time potential QB savior in action; Jeremy has an awesome gallery of shots from the 1973 Ole Miss game; and Ben has a boatload of Halloween costume suggestions for Auburn fans, though the real highlight of the post is this photo with this caption:
[I loved it to the top of the post, because that’s where it belongs after the game.]
Awwwwww yeah, Antonio. Make it happen today.
— OK, back before kickoff.