I tried to write something about the Ole Miss game (well, something besides “this game scares the holy living tar out of me”) yesterday afternoon. I swear I did. I’d discharged my duties at the day job, handed the WarBlogEaglet off, and opened up a blank post with which to work. And I stared at it. And stared. And stared. And got up to go take a nap.
Because, man, this has been probably the greatest month of my adult life, but hot damn am I spent by the time Friday afternoon rolls around. Other than “this game scares the holy living tar out of me,” (did I mention that?), I had nothing.
And sometime between then and now, I wondered if that was how Auburn felt. They’ve played eight straight weeks, with six of those games coming against quality teams and all six of them coming down to the final possession. The last two weeks have been the most emotional, most physical, most draining of all. Cam Newton has the eighth-most carries in the country and on many plays where he doesn’t carry he’s in the pocket throwing the ball. The back seven still has no real second string. Every possible opportunity for the team to feel good about itself and just relax for a minute has been presented this past week.
So yeah, it can’t be a good time to go on the road to face Houston Freaking Nutt. But there’s good news: after this, the slog is over. There’s a game against an FCS team. Then one last push against Georgia — and surely, surely, if there’s any team other than the one in T-town that this team can make that push against, it’s Georgia — and we’re through to the bye week.
Auburn just has to get through this game. The line just has to suck it up and keep opening holes. Cam has to hang in there in the fourth quarter even after the punishment he’s taken this year. The defense has to make the one or two big plays to turn the game they made against Arkansas, Carolina, etc. Dyer has to play through his pain. Etc.
They just have to win. They just have to survive this week. That’s all they have to do. No doubt they’re tired. But they’re so close. Stage 2 is very nearly complete, and though I would have been OK with a single loss during this stage, now that we’re here … this isn’t it.
Just survive, Auburn. That’s all we’re asking.
A few other thoughts:
— I know Masoli threw for a ton of yards last week, and I know Auburn’s had some issues (to put it mildly) against mobile quarterbacks. But I’d still rather see him dropping back than running the option. And I’d still rather face a guy who’s just not that consistent throwing the kryptonite underneath routes than I would a Hartline or Mallett. (Or Wilson, I guess.)
— Newton’s going to have to throw this game. The Rebels are going to have to sell out to do any damn thing with the AU ground game, and their pass defense is terrible to begin with. It will make a huge, massive difference if he can avoid the occasional silly pick he was throwing a few weeks ago. It will also help if Blake and Burns and the Swede Killa keep doing what they’re doing.
— Do we root for Michigan State today or not? If they win at Iowa, they’re going undefeated. (Their final three games? Vs. Minnesota, Purdue, and Penn State.) Auburn would not be able to re-pass them after a loss. Then again: neither would a certain team that we’re playing the final week of the season.
I guess I’d rather they lost to keep our door open a crack regardless. But it’s something to think about.
I’ll be back with Gameday post updates later.
Photo by Van Emst.