— Stand and applaud. STAND AND APPLAUD. They deserve nothing less. They gave everything, everything. Thank you, Auburn men: thank you, thank you, a hundred times over.
— If there were even the slightest doubts about Auburn’s coaching, I hope this game shut those up for good. No poorly-coached or even average-coached team puts together a performance anything like that … and frankly, I thought they were better than their counterparts on the opposite sideline. Easily.
— There just … there just was not enough offense. First down on the ‘Bama 44 in the fourth quarter, and you go backwards 16 yards. You can’t win that way. Not enough from Todd, not enough from the line, not enough from the backs. 21 points and 330 yards on that defense is absolutely nothing to sneeze at,
— For the second straight game, Auburn outgains their opponent. For the second straight game, turnovers are the undoing, this time with the assist to the coverage units. This is the way that Tennessee must have felt: it was there, right there, and it didn’t happen.
— I’m not that worried about the time management at the end of the game. Yes, the ball could have been snapped faster, yes, it wasn’t great, yes, I was pulling my hair out. But in the end they got their shot at the end zone, and not even from that far out. Auburn had much larger problems than that series. Like, every other series in the second half that didn’t end in a long touchdown to Darvin Adams.
— I’m trying to think of something worthwhile to say about Auburn’s defense, and I can’t. They were amazing, incredible, remarkable, as gutsy as any Auburn defense I can remember. That’s about the extent of it.
— Well, there’s also this: they publicly swore that Mark Ingram would not win the Heisman on them. Alabama and Ingram’s response: 16 carries for the cover boy, 30 yards. That walk was walked.
— This team and this game will not be forgotten any time soon. After last season, and the ugly pit of a program it left behind, a foundation had to be laid before we started talking about high-rises. That foundation is there now, and we’ll remember the Tigers who put it there.
Even in defeat: War Damn Eagle. Today, tomorrow, always.
— Back with more thoughts tomorrow. I’m too drained to come up with anything else.
— Auburn has the lead. After all the field position the Tide has had in this game, that’s unbefreakinglievable. All of you who ragged all over Ted Roof this season need to offer an apology, because his defense has been nothing short of heroic by football standards.
— Jonathan Evans, with the fourth-down tackle with a yard to go. Amazing.
— You can’t say “the difference in this game is such-and-such” when Auburn’s up, but the gap between the two quarterbacks is why Auburn isn’t 10 up at the moment. Todd is not having a good day, and if McElroy hasn’t been stupendous, he’s done mostly what he’s had to do. And so it’s only a one-point game.
— The other factor, obviously, is Arenas. Matching him up against the Auburn special teams’ collection of walk-ons isn’t fair.
— Say this before you say anything else: there is one quarter of football remaining, and in that quarter, absolutely anything can happen.
War Eagle. Let’s go.
— No complaints taking the No. 2 team in the country into the break tied at 14. But damn did I want points on that last drive. Really, really wish Gus had dialed up the draw on that 3rd-and-13: a good gain there, even if it doesn’t make the first, sets up Byrum for a huge field goal try. Auburn can’t afford to waste any drive into Tide territory, even ones where we face 3rd-and-long just over midfield.
— Massive stop from the defense there on the Tide’s final drive. Following three three-and-outs and a turnover, I would not have wagered on them keeping the Tide out of the end zone. Kudos to the Tide’s Groza award finalist on completely honking a 42-yarder.
— Again, a tie at the half is fine (good, even, since anything other than “blowout loss” is a form of success in this game), but Auburn’s committing too many mistakes–penalties, pass-pro breakdowns, fumbles, Todd’s misses, missed tackle–to pull out a victory. They’ve got to sharpen up–to play better in the second half than the first, basically–to actually win this game. We’re on track for a close loss. But victory is going to require more.
— An example: on the surface, a flag like Bates’ headshot on McElroy doesn’t much matter–just 15 on the kickoff, right? But kickoffs are one of the few places Auburn has an obvious advantage, as shown by Washington’s field-flipping return on the first Tide kickoff. Throwing a KO return away is a big, big deal … not to mention the fact that even if Auburn had gotten the stop there, it would have been a first-down regardless. It’s just too poor a play to make in this game.
— Auburn’s got to put points on the board on this first drive. Anything less and we’re looking at some serious trouble.
— But Auburn can do that, and Auburn can win this game. War Eagle.
— Well, that couldn’t have gone a lot better. The onsides kick was exactly the kind of thing that Auburn has to do to win this game. I pledged full allegiance to Chizik long ago, but if you needed any more proof that he’s going to make the calls that head coaches have to make, there ya go.
— That said … that 2nd down throw to Trott was the sort of play that Todd and Auburn simply must make to win this football game. To win this game, Auburn’s going to have to make a lot of difficult plays. If they can’t make the easy ones, this is as good as it’s going to get.
— This is still pretty good. Back at the break.
PREGAME, FINAL UPDATE
— OK, there’s the CBS theme, and I’m too nervous to post any more. I’ll see you at halftime.
War Eagle. Let’s do this, Auburn.
— The 1989 team was just honored, with Pat Dye saved for last and getting the biggest ovation. Can’t tell you how much I wish I was there.
— Apparently there’s a fairly stiff breeze at field level, which I kind of think plays into Bama’s hands a little bit; Auburn will definitely be more dependent on throwing the ball and will probably be more dependent on field goals than the Tide as well. Not a game-changing development, but something to think about.
— Andy Bitter with a report on Auburn’s backup options today at linebacker:
Wade Christopher in the middle and Ashton Richardson and Chris Humphries on the outside. Yes, that’s three walk-ons. And one’s a defensive end.
Honestly, you kind of have to laugh at this point. Or cry.
— It’s official: The Toro is out. Jonathan Evans, no time to become an Auburn legend like the present.
— Smattering of links for you: first, don’t forget Kenny Smith’s essential Twitter feed. He’s already up and running in fine form. The Auburner has the pinnacle of the evolution of American art posted, and the post-West Virginia masterpiece is back, juts in time to fire you up all over again. And your friend and mine Acid Reign is doing his usual play-by-play over at Track ‘Em.
— And here at TWER, my final bit of pregame hype-mongering (but the good kind of hype-mongering!) is finished and available here.
— T-minus two hours.
— Weather report: every bit as nice as has been expected all week.
— Don’t like this news from Jay G. Tate: the line on this game has fallen three points this week, which as he points out shows that a lot of people are wagering a lot of money on Auburn today. I’d rather Auburn be fighting against the current of popular opinion, even on something as irrelevant as the spread.
— We’ve compiled lots of terrific video this week at TWER, but this quote–
Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here …
–is far too good not to also share the following:
I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great football team Alabama has. Screw ’em. This is your time.
For more hope-centric YouTubery, but with a certain, ahem, geek-friendly slant, Ben’s got you covered. (I’ll be honest: I’m mostly linking this for the “I’m still single” joke. You’ll understand when you click over.)
(HT on the Miracle vid: BHGP.)
— Good morning! Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and all the turkey and sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie and unbuttoned waistlines that went along with it … because this afternoon’s going to be just a little more intense than drowsily watching NFL games no one actually gives a Saban’s ass about.
— Not much new at this hour on the news front. Probably the biggest question still out there is “will Eltoro play or won’t he?” We’ll find out pretty much when the game kicks off and not before, as has been standard operating procedure for the Chiznick all season. I can’t say I’m optimistic when as recently as Sunday he was only going through “mental reps,” but hope springs eternal. Especially today.
That’s about the only injury question mark. Onterio McCalebb has supposedly responded really well to the week off and Zach Clayton should be available as well.
— Well, if Auburn loses today, we won’t be able to blame the ‘Bama hype machine, which has continued to do its part:
As with the Ingram SI cover, I am fully in favor: this sort of thing does nothing to help Alabama this particular week, and if they lose (especially if Tate looks like the better back in the process), I can’t even tell you how delicious the fallout will be.
— Many, many V.I.P.’s will be in attendance today. One of them will be Zac Etheridge, despite the fact he’s still wearing his neck brace. I’m hoping (and sort of expecting) he’ll make an appearance on the field pre-game, which would be a huge emotional jolt and a highlight, win or lose.
Also, this is as big a recruiting weekend as Auburn’s going to have: Beaver has a list of visitors and other information, with C.J. Mosley the highest-profile recruit in attendance but for my money, potential offensive linemen like Roszell “Ninja” Gayden, Brandon Mosley, and Dakota Mosley the most important targets amongst the visitors.
— Lastly, the picture above was taken from TWER’s must-see photo gallery from the Punt Bama Punt game. But that’s only one of a bajillion awesome things to appear on the site this week, far too many for me to try and link to here. If you’re an Auburn fan and a new visitor to TWER, please, take the time to visit the home page and poke around. You’ll find plenty to like.
— Less than four hours away now. Will be back sporadically as we approach kickoff. Stay tuned. War Eagle.
I said: War Damn Eagle.