Some Way, Somehow

The 2012 football season will come at an end for Auburn on Saturday evening.  Mercifully.  This Auburn football team will march into Bryant-Denny Stadium with one more chance to play.  One more chance to don the Auburn uniform and play as hard and well as they can for four quarters.

As Van noted recently, this Auburn season has become a weekly trip to the dentist for painful, multi-hour procedures.  You (the Auburn fan) know the pain is coming.   As you recover from the pain of the week before you know with certainty that it is coming again.  But you also know that one day it will end.  And that day is Saturday.

And then for a while the pain will be over.  And the healing can begin.

This Weekend’s Game:

Until then, it is time to cheer for Auburn and support it with every fiber our being against our bitter rivals from across the state.  And that’s just what we’re going to do:  We are going to support our team every play to the very end.  The fact that they’re currently experiencing unprecedented “highs” and we are experiencing unprecedented “lows” makes it tough, sure, but we are a family—the Auburn Family—and we will persevere and battle our way through even the toughest times and we will be back.

  1. We ask for one thing on Saturday and that is for the Auburn team to fight to the end.  Don’t give up or give in.  Keep fighting until the referees tell you it is over and make you leave the field.  Don’t be intimidated or pushed around.   Fight back with the last ounce of energy you have. That is all we ask.  And we, the Auburn fans, agree to do the same.  We won’t give up on you.  Don’t you give up, either.
  2. Auburn’s one chance in this game is to play the kind of inspired, physical defense that we saw against LSU.   Unlike some other teams Auburn has played recently, Alabama will not bother trying to spread Auburn out – they will run straight at the Tigers’ defense. Does that help Auburn?  Yes, it does.  Does it help Auburn enough? Probably not.  The Alabama offensive line is the strongest part of that whole team – how will the Auburn defensive line hold up against them?  Therein lies the outcome.
  3. Jonathan Wallace and the Auburn offense broke out last week against an overmatched Alabama A&M team.  The hope is that the confidence gained by seeing success in that game will carry over and will help the offense this week.   Bama has been vulnerable to good quarterback play in its last two SEC games but we are not sure Wallace can do enough to take advantage of that.  He shows lots of promise and we’re excited for him, but he’s still a true freshman and has a long way to go yet.
  4. Once again Auburn has a real edge in special teams in this game.  Can we take advantage of it by making a big play or two?  (The Football Outsiders statistical ranking of special teams performance this season has Auburn third in the nation and Bama 72nd.)  We of the Wishbone continue to call for Auburn to do nothing but onside kicks on all kickoffs.  They are the one thing that has never failed for us in the Chizik Era.  Why not, at this point?
  5. Finally, Auburn has nothing to lose and Bama has everything to lose.  Bama is a huge (perhaps unprecedented) favorite.  Auburn should play like they have nothing to lose.   The aforementioned onsides kicks?  Yes.  Go for it on 4th down? Absolutely.  Throw it deep a bunch to Sammie Coates? Certainly.  Trick plays? Definitely.   Auburn should go out with guns blazing.  Make the 2009 game plan look conservative by comparison.

Our Kingdom for a Great Quarterback!  The good news?  Alabama has shown a real weakness to a very good quarterback in the LSU and Texas A&M games.   The bad news?  As much as we love Jonathan Wallace, Auburn can probably not take advantage of that weakness.  LSU’s Zack Mettenberger showed in the November 3 game in Baton Rouge why he was so hyped as a transfer to LSU.   And we all saw what happened when Johnny Manziel traveled to Tuscaloosa. Those two combined for 551 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.

But wait, you ask, surely Bama has played a good quarterback before that?  They are supposed to be the best defense in college football!  Actually, no, they haven’t.  Tyler Wilson of Arkansas did not play in the game against them.  Denard Robinson of Michigan is now playing running back. And so on.  It won’t help Auburn – but remember this when they face Georgia in the Georgia Dome.

The Great 2002 Auburn Upset

Ten years ago this week another Auburn team walked into Bryant-Denny Stadium against a Top 10 Alabama team.  That Auburn team had suffered a disappointing season and due to injuries was playing third string tailback Tre Smith in his first college start.  Most college football fans gave Auburn no chance. But that Auburn team came out and shocked the world.  It was a glorious day and one that will be long-remembered.   And it should serve as a reminder that there is always hope.

Who could forget the long runs by Tre Smith and the touchdown reception by massive tight end Robert Johnson?

If you need something to cheer you up this week and you haven’t read the Tider Insider thread from that day—in which we witness the slow meltdown of Alabama fans witnessing Tre Smith running wild on them and their offense coming up empty—enjoy.   Your Wishbone columnists read it every year during this week and it always brings a smile.

The biggest difference between the 2002 game and this one?  Auburn’s offense in 2002 was coordinated by Bobby Petrino, who did a spectacular job in this particular game at finding individual mismatches and taking advantage of them.   In 2012, Auburn’s offense is coordinated by Scot Loeffler.  So, yeah.

Did You Miss the Wishbone Podcast?

Due to family issues we were unable to record a podcast this week.  But your intrepid Wishbone columnists will get together and discuss the results of the Iron Bowl and look to where Auburn football goes from here, so keep downloading and listening!

There will be now power poll this week due to the short week and the lack of meaningful games last week.

War Eagle and—some way, somehow—BEAT BAMA!!!

 

Photo: @photovman.

Van Allen Plexico managed to attend Auburn (and score student football tickets) for some portion of every year between 1986 and 1996. He realizes that’s probably not something one should brag about, but hey. He teaches college near St Louis (because ten years as a student was somehow just not enough time to spend at school) and writes and edits for a variety of publishers. Find links to his various projects at www.plexico.net.

John Ringer graduated from Auburn in 1991 (which may be the greatest time ever to be an Auburn student – SEC titles in 1987, 88 and 89 and the 1989 Iron Bowl). His family has had season tickets every year since well before he was born and he grew up wandering around Jordan-Hare on game days. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia where he spends way too much time reading about college football on the internet and teaching his children to love Auburn football.

Previous Wishbone columns are waiting for you here.

Order Season of Our Dreams — every “Wishbone” column from the 2010 preseason through the fabled Date in the Desert, plus a stadium full of extras.

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