— 5-0. And not just 5-0, but five wins in which the outcome was decided before the opponents’ final possession.
— 4.7 yards per carry, 5.5 yards-per-play. The former number is just as good as what Florida managed against the Vols, the latter a little bit better. And of course, Auburn managed it in Knoxville. Malzahn v. Kiffin was a close bout, but we have the judges’ decisions, and the referree is holding up Dr. Gustav’s hand.
— Yeah, the defense’s stats aren’t all that great, and yeah, it was a little aggravating to see a game I thought was completely, totally over at 23-6 turn into something that wasn’t, but after what they accomplished (with Tennessee’s help, of course) for the first three quarters, I’m not upset. Discount that last garbage time drive–when everybody knew the game really was over–and the Vols scored 16 points at home. That’s all we need.
— Special tip of the cap to The Others and the huge holes they blew open for McCalebb in the Vol kickoff coverage unit. Between those returns, Lincoln missing an easier FG than Byrum missed, and Frenchy laying claim to the punt return job, I think Auburn actually … won … the special teams battle? Hooray for improvement!
— I never thought the day would come when Auburn would gain 459 yards against one of the consensus top-three defenses in the SEC and I would feel slightly disappointed … but here we are. We’ve been conditioned by Auburn’s offense to expect huge touchdowns plays and–more importantly–red zone success, so not getting it leaves the only really sour taste from this game. Obviously the last-play touchdown makes the score closer than it should have been, but the dropped McCalebb touchdown and various other red zone failures mean this game was truly a 14-point comfy contest in disguise.
— With Furman still remaining on the schedule, Auburn has clinched themsevles a bowl berth. I know most people’s sights are set a little bit higher by now, but it’s one hurdle at a time, and clearing this one is worth making a note of it.
— War Eagle. Knee-jerk up later today.
— As I said at halftime of the West Virginia game: Auburn has been a second-half team. If they continue to be, they win the game. I will take 13-6 at the half.
— That said: DAMMIT a touchdown on that last offensive drive more-or-less ends the game. 13-point swings are tough to take, and this is the first time Auburn hasn’t taken the momentum into the locker room. Game’s not over by a long shot.
— Still, it’s pretty clear by this point who’s the better team, don’t you think? 266 yards to 175, and about 80 of that on two Vol plays. Then again, as LSU and Georgia so eloquently demonstrated earlier today, the dominant team in the first half is not always the dominant team in the second half. Auburn should have stepped on their throat.
— I never thought the play that got me the absolute most fired up would be “opponent takes time-out,” but watching the Vols call a TO just so they can breathe got me … well, not just off the couch, but off the couch swinging my firsts and yelling like a crazy person. I feel like I need to send Dr. Gustav a Hillshire Farms gift basket where the sausage is embedded with diamonds. Or something.
— Todd made any number of ridiculous plays under duress, but you know what’s been missing? The downfield passing. Neither Zachery nor Adams have a catch longer than 20 yards.
— Mario Fannin is cursed or something. He’s wide open on a wheel route for 20 yards, it’s a chop block. (On Pugh! I’m so shocked.) He grabs a swing that’s wide open, no Berry in front of him, and McCain false starts. AAAARRRGGGHHHH.
— Tate tossing Berry aside like a rag doll: yes, that was a highlight, it’s safe to say.
— Tennesseee averaging 8.1 yards a carry at halftime is a little misleading–for every successful run they’ve had an unsuccessful one–but still, MUST DO BETTER. This Vol passing offense is horrible–the receivers can’t catch, the quarterback can’t throw. Make them complete passes. (That said: yeah, that’s a hell of a route that TE ran on the 40-yarder.)
— Let’s go Auburn. You’ve done this second-half thing several times before. Do it again, and you’re golden.
I do not see suspended RG Byron Isom on the sideline. It looks like he did not travel.
Not that it’s a huge surprise, but this is Not Good. More from Bitter at his blog; important note is that Frenchy is on the field and warming up with the punt returners. Could he get a shot back there?
See you at halftime, and pray that whatever demon possessed the officials from the UGA-LSU game has stayed way the hell away from the UT-Auburn officials.
TigerWalkGate No-Tiger Walk Tiger Walk
Several TWER contributors and correspondents (J.M. Comer, I.K.E. Blake, Ben Bartley and The Nurse) are on the scene in Knoxville.
Some of the following are graphic and may be disturbing.
En route to Neyland:
At TigerWalkGate No-Tiger Walk Tiger Walk – I.K.E. Blake has been chatting with Chris Todd’s sister!
TWER editor J.M. Comer reports:
Police keep shifting the fans from one side to the other and they have little conferences trying what to do next. Amateur hour yo. The band walked through sans instruments and you would have thought they were war heroes. Great, great atmosphere at the Walk so far. Good spirits all around. I missed the skirt and cowboy boots memo. I feel under dressed.
UPDATE – Go here for video!
Not much news to report on the game itself out there, but here’s a few links to keep you busy ’til kickoff:
— Jay relates to us how the Auburn-Tennessee rivalry got started and why Robert Neyland was kind of an ass about the whole thing.
— Trooper Taylor and Eddie Gran have swapped places on the sideline for this game, kind of. Cool quote (does Taylor offer any other kind?) on Phil Fulmer from Trooper here.
— So much TWER gold: Auburn Elvis hails the Auburn bus; Thom Gossom his own self writes about his experiences taking on the Vols; Kevin Strickland gets ironic; and if you’d like to see a precise visual representation of how much better this season is than last year’s, John Magruder has all the graphs you need in an awe-inspiring bit of mathematical analysis (“Spread Sheets” is a hell of a name for them, too.)
— This is interesting: Evan Woodbery says the Chiznick is “a hundred times better than he was when he started” about opening up with the press. OK, so maybe I’m the only one that finds that interesting, but I do think it speaks to how much tension Chizik felt when he took the job and how much easier it must seems when you’re 4-0 and recruiting well.
— Speaking of recruiting, we’ve got a punting commitment. His name is Steven Clark, and other than the fact that he is a punter and that apparently he and kicker commit Cody Parkey rocked some kicking camp, there’s not much more to say about him. I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’ll say this, though: I appreciate that the coaching staff values specialists enough to bring in a placekicker and a punter while there’ll still be specialists in front of them on scholarship. A year of acclimation should do ’em good.
(The real question: how’s Clark’s kickoff leg?)
— This made me laugh.
— Most of the neutrals I’ve read seem to think Auburn pulls it out tonight; Dr. Saturday, for instance, doesn’t even think it’ll be particularly close. On the one hand, it’s to be respected like that. On the other, any time Auburn comes in as a kind of road favorite (though by Vegas standards, they’re not) makes me nervous.
— I hate announcers. After a huge defensive stop deep in Alabama’s own territory in the second quarter, Kentucky takes over at midfield, down just one point at 7-6. After a short gain on first down, twice Randall Cobb comes open for a sure first down, and twice Mike Hartline just plain misses him. The announcer (I don’t know who) proceeds to talk about how that’s perfectly fine, Kentucky’s still in great field position, they’re playing a good game, blah blah blah. Never mind that they are Kentucky and they are playing Alabama and they just had a gilt-edged opportunity to take the lead thrown away by piss-poor quarterback play … everything’s swell! I think that guy was the reason Alabama promptly took the ball 99 yards for a demoralizing touchdown.
— OK, back at halftime of The Game unless there’s some important development to report (like, say, that Isom’s playing oh please oh please oh please).