— In the end, a 26-point victory. With our new quarterback looking about as good as it’s possible to look and the defense showing some level of improvement in the second half and our new stud running back looking as studly as expected and I think the offense racking up 608 yards while still looking fairly vanilla (and not particularly up-tempo) to my eyes, the first-half Caudle double-pass aside.
After the day Ole Miss and Florida had, I’ll take it. It’s not entirely what I wanted. But I’ll take it.
— About the defense … same ol’ same ol’. 26 points and 366 yards given up when there’s this many possessions in this game isn’t the end of the world, especially when they got handed a couple of rough draws in the second half and mostly did all right.
But it’s not the kind of improvement we need to get where we want to go. There’s still time to see it. But we’ll have to see it this Thursday, and that’s not a lot of time.
— Oh, Mario. Mario, Mario, Mario. I hate that this season, which I wanted so badly for you, began with only three carries. (At least you had those four receptions, 65 yards, 2 TDs. That’s good. Just like last year.) But if you fumble on one of those three carries, given the kind of backs you’re sharing the backfield with, you’re not going to deserve a whole lot more. I’m sorry.
— Craig Sanders is our Steve Tasker.
— Dyer: 14 carries, 95 yards, TD, no fumbles, a near-save of 3rd-and-10 on a swing. That didn’t take long.
— The defensive line has the kind of depth we’re looking for, probably. Whitaker was solid. That’s four guys at tackle. Lemonier and Ford and Egaue look like they can spell Carter and Goggans without the world ending, the way it did last year. But the back seven? Still a work in progress.
— At least we have data to work with now, as opposed to rank speculation. That’s something to be happy about, too.
— More tomorrow. War Eagle.
— Well, that … that was almost sorta what we expected, right? Crazy good offense, suspect defense. Except no, we probably didn’t really expect the offense to be quite that crazy good or the defense to be that highly suspect, of course. 379 yards gained, 231 yards allowed. WE ARE AUBURN. These days, anyways.
— I’m trying not to care too much about the defense when we have Cam Newton. 6/9 100, 2 TDs, 0 INT in the air; 9 carries, 147 yards, 2 TDs on the ground. He is officially a joke.
— But I care. I hate ragging on Ted Roof, because it’s so easy when things are going poorly, and he’s known more about defense than I’ve forgotten blah blah blah … but I don’t understand why you blitz incessantly with a pair of safeties that a) haven’t played in three years b) didn’t go full-contact until there was a week remaining in fall practice. We want those guys one-on-one down the field? Really?
Not that the safeties got a ton of help from either the pass rush or the corners. The bottom line: three A-State scoring drives, covering 82, 55, and 66 yards. While the offense was generally taking some time off the clock. Not good enough.
— At least the rush defense picked up where it left off. 19 attempts, 26 yards, 1.4 a caryy. Though the huge Fairley sack had something to do with that.
— The kickoff coverage still needs work. But at least every other aspect of special teams appears to be much improved, or intact. (Including field goal block. Nice touch, that.)
— Surprising to see Fannin only get two carries. But when the offense is rolling like that, hard to argue with the results.
— Frustrating to not get any points at the end of the half, but I’m not sure there’s anyone to blame … Newton checks down the way he’s supposed to, Fannin can’t shake the guy one-on-one, crap happens.
Though don’t ask me to feel the same way in a close game against an SEC opponent.
— Back at game’s conclusion.
— Eltoro “The Toro” Freeman will get the start in place of Craig Stevens. Huge opportunity for Freeman; it’s possible he and Bates are both auditioning for the same job going into next week. Or whenever Stevens returns.
— The HOT RUMOR in addition to the Stevens HOT RUMOR has been that Jonathan Mincy has been in HOT WATER. And sure enough, he doesn’t appear to be on the field. It’s possible Chris Davis just beat him out for a single spot, since a few other scout teamers (i.e. both backup TEs) … but, you know, that seems like such an amazing coincidence I think it’s safe to assume there’s some disciplinary action there as well.
— Trovon Reed has dressed. As promised, Seabiscuit ain’t in the trailer.
— WAR EAGLE. Will be back with initial impressions at halftime. Enjoy the game.
— Andy Bitter’s pregame post includes the info that Craig Stevens did not appear to be present at Tiger Walk or the pregame prayer. As expected.
— It’s only New Mexico, but I’d like to thank Oregon–up 59-0 at the half–for making my slotting them at No. 4 in my preseason BlogPoll ballot look smart for at least a week.
— Clemson’s defense did not look exactly threatening in the first half of their game against North Texas, giving up 234 yards to the Mean Green. Commence salivating for what Newton and Co. will do to them if they don’t improve.
— Still no updates from Auburn. At least, none I’ve seen yet worth sharing.
— Good heavens, Florida was terrible. The talk all offseason was that Brantley’s arm would re-open the Florida downfield passing game … and he averaged less than 5 yards an attempt, and not even that without the joke of a completion at the end of the game. If Florida can’t get the ball downfield, forget it.
— Was there anything else–anything?–worth making a note of in the first round of games? Don’t think so. I guess Murray looked OK, but it’s Lousiana. The trip to Columbia will be just a hair more challenging.
— Will update again when we hear something out of Jordan-Hare.
— Welcome to the first Gameday post of the year! If this is your first season here at TWER, we’ll be here every Saturday keeping up with any and all Auburn pregame developments and offering some commentary on the day’s stories in college football.
But at this still relatively early hour, there’s not much to report: the beat writers don’t have anything new and other than Florida’s hiccups against Miami OF OHIO, there’s not much going on in the early games. (Admittedly, these hiccups are certainly enjoyable, but we all know the dam is going to break at some point.) So, if you’re bored, you can check out this site’s Cheese Puff Preview of Arkansas St. or Andy Bitter’s enjoyable–if predictable–unit-by-unit breakdown of tonight’s game. Also, for your listening pleasure, we have Lee County radio legend Smilin’ Jack Smollon reaching across the years to get you PUMPED UP from 1971.
It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger, folks. We’ll be back later in the afternoon. Stay tuned.