Sunday, September 6, 2009

La. Tech Thoughts

And so, tonight I once again find myself amongst the sunshine pumpers. Perhaps its just because of what we've gotten used to seeing over the past couple of years that has me spewing hope and happiness and rainbows and unicorns, but dangit I feel better about this year. 556 yards of offense can do that to a fan of a team that hasn't seen a really competent offense since 2005. On Saturday, Auburn showed that competency with a balanced offensive attack and a dominating defense.

Offense: A renewed Chris Todd captained an Auburn offense that was fun to watch. The buzz has been about Todd connecting with Terrell Zachary for the longest play in Auburn history. That's a testament to great play-calling by Arthur Gustav Malzahn III more than it is about Todd's improvement from last year to this. If you want to see the proof that Todd is becoming the same quarterback that he was always supposed to be, look no further than his 17 yard touchdown pass to Darvin Adams at the back pylon. Old Chris Todd would've floated that up for a pick. New Chris Todd dropped that pass in where no one in the stadium but Darvin could have caught it. A young receiving corp showed why Trooper has been raving for the past month. I'm excited about our passing game. As for the running game:

What can you say about Onterio McCalebb? A huge game for him that could be a testament of great things to come. I doubt he will have the same numbers against SEC caliber defensive speed, but I'm excited nonetheless to see what he can do. I think it will be a lot. Combine his "lightning" with Ben Tate's "thunder" and Auburn can have a very effective running game this season.*
There is certainly room for improvement for the offense, especially in the way of turnovers, but I expect those things to work out (or for the coaches to work it out of them) in the next week or so.
Defense: La. Tech never really was able to move the ball on the Auburn defense all night. The only touchdown drive was due to two long penalties that CGC attributed to effort. If these penalties aren't called, and the offense doesn't turn the ball over, the final could easily have been 51-6. But if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, I'd have one heck of a stomachache at the moment.
As it was, the defense played very well, especially considering the depth issues on that side of the ball. Eltoro Freeman and Nosa Eguae were both held out due to injury. Freshman Daren Bates and Sophomore Nick Fairley had huge games and showed why they earned starting jobs. And although the inexperience was exposed once or twice, the overall performance of the defense was great. Expect big things from them this year.
Wildcat: "Kodi Burns is an Auburn man." You heard it, and now you've seen the proof. Kodi stepped up and showed great maturity when he was moved to WR this summer. He made sure that his number one priority was the unity of the team, and doing everything he could to help Auburn win games. How did the coaching staff reward him? With nothing less than a significant role in the offense and the first touchdown of the season. Recruits, take note: if Gene Chizik says you will help the Tigers win, you will help the Tigers win. 10 points to Chizik and 10 points to Kodi. I got the feeling that the Wildtiger/eagle/plainsman was relatively vanilla on Saturday, so look out whenever it goes into overdrive.
La. Tech: The only thing I have to say about La. Tech is a quick comment on their fanbase. On the way to the game I was accosted by several La. Tech fans. I was a little stunned by this, so I just ignored them really. I've seen Auburn play many a game against La. Tech and have always found them to be a classy bunch of people. They enjoy the game, cheer hard, and will shake your hand after the game. This is not an indictment on La. Tech as a whole, but really just this one group of douche bags. So -10 points to douche bags, and 10 points to La. Tech fanbase that it's taken me this long to find any. Usually you find one on your first meeting with a team.
Overall: Look out. This Auburn team was NOT clicking on all cylinders on Saturday (see busted routes/turnovers/ penalties). It was NOT healthy (see Freeman/Eguae). Yet it still took care of business in a convincing fashion. Sure, not every team we play is a WAC team, but when things start clicking at 100%, this team is going to be pretty darn good. I can't wait till Saturday!
*On a recruiting note, and as far as the McCalebbs are concerned, word on the skreet was that Onterio's younger brother attended Saturday's game, and that he is even faster than Onterio. Awesome.

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