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The Gamenight post: Mississippi State

GO GO

FULLTIME

— If you’d told me ahead of the game “Auburn will have 17 points at halftime, then fail to score on any of their four possessions in the second half,” I’d have assumed they’d have lost by 10 points at least. Incredible job by the Auburn defense. I think, just maybe, Ted Roof’s job is safe for a week.

— I said ahead of the game that as long as we came out of Starkville with a win, this game was a success. And it is. But good heavens, do we have a lot of question marks about this team. I don’t even know if we’re supposed to be vulnerable on defense or offense any more.

— I can’t put 2 and 2 together when it comes to our offensive philosophy. We have the cojones to throw a double-pass back to the QB behind the line with the game in the balance, but we don’t run Malzahn’s tempo any more or make a real effort to put points on the board at the end of the first half.Either be conservative or run the hell out of the thing, guys, not one or the other.

But one man’s opinion: run the offense Malzahn wants to run and get the hell out of his way.

— Here’s to hoping Ziemba can return next week. No one wants to see the starts streak ruined. But at the same time, Mosley was not bad in relief, not bad at all.

— Only Auburn could commit two offensive penalties all game and have them both negate first downs inside the 15.

— I’m so sorry, Mario. But I’d rather see the ball in Dyer’s hands.

— You know ahead of time that James and Palmer are going to be a Hindenburg-quality disaster, and yet they still manage to fall short of even the lowest possible expectations.

— Weird that for all the 3-2 “look how far they’ve come” reminiscing, the game still ended the same way: Auburn unable to put it away and clinging for dear life to a slim lead.

— So, yeah, that last drop was kind of heart-rending. But it’s only fair to say that Auburn did outplay the Bulldogs: the total yardage read 349 yards to 246, and the teams finished even in turnovers. Auburn got a little lucky, but not that lucky.

— Thanks, again, to the defense. Fairley: unreal. Freeman and Bynes: outstanding. The secondary: good enough on a night when the State quarterbacks were this scattershot.

And so Auburn is 2-0 and coming home for the Carolina schools. I’m not going to complain a bit.

Well, maybe just that one bit about the offensive tempo. That’s it.

HALFTIME

— 17-7, huh? Yes, Virginia, that’s perfectly fine at this stage. Wish we had the ball to start the second, but things could be worse.

— That last McCalebb draw: DAMMIT. An absolute ton of room, perfectly blocked, a certain 15-yard gain and maybe more, timeout to follow … and he trips. Cost Auburn three points, most likely. Between that and the two turnovers, Auburn has left a lot of points out there …

… but Mississippi State also handed us an easy three with that fumbled snap, so no worries. Almost: not many worries.

— Well, I think it’s safe to say Nick Fairley has taken the leap forward we all wanted. Auburn’s defensive line is something different–and better–than we expected now that that’s happened.

— I swear, Auburn must commit more third-down illegal formation penalties than any other team in the country.

— Why can we not find a punt returner who can just make a fair catch? WHY? Or hell, if you’re in any kind of traffic, RUN AWAY. We have more than 100 players. Surely, surely, sweet merciful heavens, one of them can not fumble a punt. SURELY.

— That said, the kickoff coverage team is suddenly legit. Craig Sanders could do nothing but play like this on special teams for the rest of his career and I’d still want to retire his number.

— Back at full-time.

PREGAME, 6:35: Nothing else worth passing on, other than that apparently MSU is at least trying to tell the fans not to ring at the times they’re not supposed to ring. I’m sure that will work just fine.

See you at halftime. WAR DAMN EAGLE!

PREGAME, 6:15: Kodi Burns and The Toro are starting. The consensus amongst the beaterati is that the heat and humidity in Starkville could have an impact on the game; I’m not sure if that favors Auburn or not, since the offense will look to wear out the Bulldogs but the defense is (still) so thin. It probably favors whichever team can hold a lead in the fourth. Interesting note from Andrew Gribble:

This game pits the nation’s two best teams in terms of pass efficiency. Yes, I realize we’re only one week into the season.

PREGAME, 5:50: Andy Bitter reports that Trovon Reed has made the trip, with a heavy wrap on his left knee. Sounds like he’s still moving around pretty well, though. Nothing unexpected: no Stevens, no LaDarious Phillips, Steven Clark around in case Shoemaker gets hurt.

Jay Tate has a Davis-Wade photo gallery; am I allowed to say how their gigantic video board reminds me of how some of the people I knew growing up who had the least amount of money also had the most loaded, state-of-the-art entertainment centers available?

PREGAME, 4:10: Geez, less than two-and-a-half hours until Auburn plays football again? It seems like the season opener kicked off just this morning.

Nothing out of Starkville just yet (not that we expected anything) save Jay Tate’s report on cowbell instructions. But that’s OK, because there’s no shortage of worthwhile game-related reading material: EDSBS has a Factor Five preview up, my Ann Arbor-based buddy Jamie Mac previews the game via a series of prop bets (and takes Auburn on the actual line, currently at Auburn -1.5), and the Auburner updates us on the spread of the Tiger Walk. And of course there’s like eight new things on the home page today if you haven’t seen them.

Back when there’s something to report. By the by: I have never been more fired up for the Mississippi State game. Ever.

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