Things I Think I Saw: Auburn vs Alabama

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Coach, I said this in one of Stat Tiger's weekly posts, but his two posts each week and yours have been the only reason I have ventured to the Football forum each week. Really appreciate your work to do these weekly reviews. Thanks and War Eagle!

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I agree that the team did not quit, but I feel that the coaching staff made poor decisions in the second half and quit on the players. Malzahn is not the sole owner of the blame. It takes a staff to coach and prepare players. Players also make mistakes during play that contribute to a loss. There were moments when the defense looked spectacular and the offense was getting a rhythm. Then you have to look back at the substitution that bama was doing in the first half as compared to the second half. I think that played a factor in the game. I also think it was a reason the first half looked to be a closer game. In the second half of the game, the starting oline for bama was in the game longer, less subsitutions in second half. It was almost as if bama was reserving them for the second half. this was a point I missed while watching the game, but was pointed out to me by my no good bama loving brother. Saban played a smart game; Malzahn played desperate.

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On 11/26/2018 at 8:01 PM, JMR said:
I thought about not doing one of these this week. My life certainly doesn’t revolve around Auburn football, or football in general, so I’m not “depressed” about the game. But I’ll admit, I’m not excited about talking about it, or the state of the program at present. But, I said at the beginning of the season I’d do it, so here are some things I “think” I saw in the game.

I’m going to try to focus on the positives (yes, there were some) as much as reasonably possible. Alabama has a lot of very good players, and they were well-coached and well-prepared, so they were obviously going to make some plays.
  • I thought the effort by Auburn’s players, on both sides of the ball, was outstanding. Even when the game was clearly out of reach, I saw no quit.
  • There were an inordinate number of physical and mental errors on Auburn’s part to start the game. Dropped passes by Seth Williams, Ryan Davis, and Boobee Whitlow to start the game were obviously not confidence-builders for the offense or for Jarrett Stidham.
  • Speaking of Stidham, he did not play very well, but neither was he “awful.”  He began the game with accurate throws, but came up with some poorly thrown balls later.
  • Strangely enough, I thought the offensive line played their best game in a while. AU had some decent success running behind Jack Driscoll, and Horton and Harrell played probably their best game of the season.  Kaleb Kim was better but he is just not very strong/powerful.  To his credit, though, he has gotten steadily better since returning to the starting lineup.
  • The penalty on Javaris Davis for hitting the Alabama punt returner on the fair-catch was definitely a foul but he was almost on the guy before he gave the fair catch signal. Davis was trying to make a big play. He should have been looking at the return man and veered away when the signal was made. But it was close, and not as “flagrant” as it probably looked.
  • The holding penalty on Sal Cannella that brought back Shivers’ 75-yard TD was huge. Cannella was definitely holding but those are almost never called.  That said, I thought the game was fairly officiated.  Not “well-officiated,” but “fairly”.
  • Seth Williams has played very well this season for a true freshman but this game was not his finest hour.  He not only dropped a couple of passes but didn’t block very well either.  It was an especially big game, his first Iron Bowl, and he is still a youngster.  I look forward to watching him grow.
  • Boobee Whitlow looked the healthiest he’s been all season.  He dropped two passes, but gave great effort, and he has made tremendous progress as a running back this season.
  • Chandler Cox will be missed.  He has blocked well all year, and this week was no exception.  He looked to be open for a possible TD (poor view on TV) on the failed fourth down pass to Anders Carlson.  Some fans like to criticize Cox but I love the way he plays the game.
  • Big Kat Bryant came a long way this season yet he still needs lots of work…pass rush moves, and just pure physical strength….but he did improve throughout the year. Like all our defensive ends, he does that two-step shuttle down inside when the offensive tackle blocks down and loses contain but I put that on Rodney Garner and Kevin Steele, not on the players.
  • One of the things I hope the defensive backs are taught…either by the new staff or the current one… how to use their hands in coverage. When running right with a receiver, it’s ok to use the back of your hand or forearm to “feel” the receiver so you know you are sticking with him.  It’s not OK to grab his jersey or put your arm around his waist.  That small technique issue has bothered me all season.
  • Even with Malzahn’s trick plays, there was still some major predictability in our offensive plays.  Alabama guessed right far too many times for it to be coincidence.
  • We will sorely miss DeShaun Davis and Darrell Williams.  Those guys are smart, experienced players, and both made outstanding plays in their last Iron Bowl.
  • I’ve been pulling for Noah Igbinoghene all season.  As a converted receiver, he has worked his way into the starting lineup as a corner and has been challenged often by opposing offenses.  It was good to see him do as well as he did this week against Alabama’s exceptionally talented wide receivers.
  • I was disappointed when the throwback pass to Tucker Brown was intercepted.  Brown is a former walk-on, a “blocker” who lines up as a tight end and I’d have loved seeing him actually catch a pass in the Iron Bowl.
  • Saw some excellent play by Coynis Miller and Tyrone Truesdell in the game.  Encouraging for the future.  Miller is a genuine load for anybody to block and he’s not yet full grown.
  • Larry Porter is one of Auburn’s best recruiters, and in addition to that, I’ve been really happy with the job he’s done with our special teams this season.  Those guys are well-coached and that’s a pleasant change from the years since Jay Boulware left.

Lots of rumors and whispers around the Auburn program right now. I’ve heard them all, but like most of us, have no idea which are true, if any. I won’t bother to speculate on what will happen with Malzahn, but I do believe that the longer this uncertainty drags on, the more likely it is he returns as our coach next year. Guess we will see.

Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read my post-game thoughts this season, and WAR DAMN EAGLE!!

Bravo Coach . By far the best report you have written this year and true on all accounts. I know I’ve gave you a lot of grief at times but I do appreciate your insight. I’m hopeful for a better year next year either way the fiasco goes. I just hope in the future when we hire coaches that they are clear recruiting talent is good but we have to be able to coach them up also. No freshman even a 5 star comes in completely ready. They have to learn the techniques of their position. It has to be drilled into them until it’s part of their personality. Hopefully we get to that point.

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I'll add my thanks as well for your columns every week. As others have said, I appreciate your insightful analysis and your attention to the positives. The negatives are out there to be sure, but I don't see what is gained by dwelling on them. I've pretty much abandoned reading the football threads except for yours. So, thanks. War Eagle! And please do the write up again next season!

  • Thanks 1

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