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AUght2win

2011 vs. Clemson - Tale of 2 Programs

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I got to thinking about this game today. It really was a huge turning point for both Clemson and Auburn.

Auburn came in with a 19 game winning streak. Dabo was coming off a losing season. We were the defending national champions but had gotten very little respect. If you remember, we survived in miraculous fashion against Utah State in the opener, then beat a Top 20 Mississippi State team on the last play of the game. Still, that MSU win was huge, and there was a sense that Auburn was started to pick up steam again, and perhaps using the national doubt as a chip on their shoulder. 

My memory of this game was that Clemson shellacked us from the opening gun. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to revisit it to see if this was the case. Turns out, that couldn't be further from the truth...

 

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I wanted to break this game down a bit, because you may be as shocked as I was.

Auburn was in complete control of this game. Midway through the first quarter, the good guys led 14-0. Clemson could generate no offense, and Kevin Steele's defense couldn't stop anything we ran. Clemson did get a score in the 2nd quarter, but Auburn put out their spark with another score, bringing the lead to 14 again at 21-7. 

clemAuburn.png

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Trotter got off to a really good start. As did Michael Dyer. Dyer would have one of his last really good games in an Auburn uniform this afternoon. The game plan also featured a heavy dose of Travante Stallworth and redshirt freshman Trovon Reed. It was a youth movement for sure on this team. I forgot JUST how young we were. Tre Mason even got some touches, as this was his true freshman year. Weirdly enough, Emory Blake only had one catch (albeit for a touchdown) and Lutz had none. The Malzahn oddities would start to show in this game.

Defensively we came out on fire. Tahj Boyd could do nothing. We had a lot of guys back in the secondary like T'Bell, Neiko Thorpe, Chris Davis, Demetruce McNeal, and more. Lemonier was a solid pass rusher, but other than him and maybe Daren Bates, our front 7 were really bad. Gabe Wright was still just a freshman, and other players in the rotation included Craig Sanders, Jeff Whitaker, Jake Holland, and Kris Frost. This team was young, and their experience would pay off in a few years for the magical 2013 season.

But regardless, Auburn was on their way to a 600 yard performance, a dominating win in a hostile environment, and a statement to the world (and to the team itself) that they weren't going anywhere after 2010. Also, we were going to get our win streak to 20, and our streak over Clemson to 15!

clemau2.png

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Then, it all collapsed. The defense had a very strange performance. Now, we all remember how atrocious the tackling was on these early 2010's Auburn defenses. But Auburn wasn't swiss cheese in this game. They just couldn't stop a third down to save their life.

As posted above, Clemson started 2/5 on third down. They would end the game 14/18! You heard that right. Clemson converted 12 of their last 13 third downs. That might be a record. What's worse, three of these conversions were touchdowns. All three were 3rd and 6 or longer. 

  • Allen catches a touchdown on 3rd and goal from the 6.
  • Sammy Watkins turns a curl into a 65 yard score on 3rd and 6.
  • Tahj Boyd throws a 19 yard TD strike to Watkins on 3rd and 9.

This odd combination of being good on the first 2 downs, and terrible on the money down, resulted in Auburn's roaring offense being sidelined. The time of possession would end up being won by Clemson 36:15 to 23:45, which is bad enough. But Clemson possessed the ball for over 22 minutes of the second half. Yikes. 

clemau3.png

Edited by AUght2win

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Malzahn started to make too-cute calls on 3rd and short, despite Clemson having no answer for Dyer. Auburn tried to mount a comeback with 9 minutes left in the 4th. Ample time! But on 2nd and Goal Trotter threw an interception. That was all she wrote. Clemson would hold the ball for the entire 9+ remaining minutes.

Ball game. Streak over. The beginning of the end for Gene Chizik. 

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I think what fascinates me so much about this game is that how it impacted both programs and both coaches. It was Dabo's first really big win. And Chizik's career would go on an unprecedented decline. 

If Auburn had held on, maybe 2012 doesn't happen the way it does. Of course, that means 2013 doesn't either. But winning cures a ton of problems. Just take a look at the Steelers and Antonio Brown. When you win, locker room problems just tend not to happen as much. After all, everybody is happy and there is no dissension. 

If Auburn wins this game, we would still beat FAU and a top 10 USC in Columbia. We would be 5-0, our streak would be at 22, and there would undoubtedly be buzz of a repeat title run. Barrett Trotter would likely stay in place as the starter, and in hindsight he may be the most overlooked Auburn QB in a long time. This young team would have had more time to grow up, and perhaps they gel.

Maybe nothing could have stop Gene's total loss of the locker room. Maybe this would have just postponed the inevitable. Who knows? All I know is that looking back, this game ended up being historic. 

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51 minutes ago, AUght2win said:

I think what fascinates me so much about this game is that how it impacted both programs and both coaches. It was Dabo's first really big win. And Chizik's career would go on an unprecedented decline. 

If Auburn had held on, maybe 2012 doesn't happen the way it does. Of course, that means 2013 doesn't either. But winning cures a ton of problems. Just take a look at the Steelers and Antonio Brown. When you win, locker room problems just tend not to happen as much. After all, everybody is happy and there is no dissension. 

If Auburn wins this game, we would still beat FAU and a top 10 USC in Columbia. We would be 5-0, our streak would be at 22, and there would undoubtedly be buzz of a repeat title run. Barrett Trotter would likely stay in place as the starter, and in hindsight he may be the most overlooked Auburn QB in a long time. This young team would have had more time to grow up, and perhaps they gel.

Maybe nothing could have stop Gene's total loss of the locker room. Maybe this would have just postponed the inevitable. Who knows? All I know is that looking back, this game ended up being historic. 

Very insightful. I have always wondered if "success too soon" got in the heads of some. There are lots of ways pride can go before a fall. 

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Dyer, Mason and McCalebb would have maybe broken some records if they had stay together longer.

Edited by Percolator
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1 hour ago, ToraGirl said:

Very insightful. I have always wondered if "success too soon" got in the heads of some. There are lots of ways pride can go before a fall. 

Really good to great coaches sustain success and don't allow that to happen. Haven't had one unfortunately since dye. Just bad luck.

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Ironic you bringing this game up. As I was watching the championship game a few days ago, I was thinking about this very thing. Not so much the game itself, but the contrast of the two programs in the years since. Clemson has become a perennial powerhouse, and we are mired in mediocrity while our main rivals frequently play for championships. Clemson has become everything we should strive for as a program. 

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28 minutes ago, GwillMac6 said:

Really good to great coaches sustain success and don't allow that to happen. Haven't had one unfortunately since dye. Just bad luck.

Agree success must be sustained.  Chizik's ability to spearhead the team's focus in the middle of the longest, sustained media-and-beyond battle I can personally remember in Auburn's football history deserves a TON of credit.  With all due respect to Coach Dye, only Shug and Gene Chizik have gotten us "there."  I just believe it went to "too many's" heads...too much time on their hands...softening...the "arrived" mentality...????  Another thread put a lot of blame at CGC's feet about wanting too much credit for the NC where CGM is concerned.  They both deserve a ton of it...for very different reasons.  

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10 minutes ago, ToraGirl said:

Agree success must be sustained.  Chizik's ability to spearhead the team's focus in the middle of the longest, sustained media-and-beyond battle I can personally remember in Auburn's football history deserves a TON of credit.  With all due respect to Coach Dye, only Shug and Gene Chizik have gotten us "there."  I just believe it went to "too many's" heads...too much time on their hands...softening...the "arrived" mentality...????  Another thread put a lot of blame at CGC's feet about wanting too much credit for the NC where CGM is concerned.  They both deserve a ton of it...for very different reasons.  

"There" isn't a real place. College national titles are entirely dependent on luck and the opinions of newspaper employees. Dye sustained success probably better than any Auburn coach in history. 

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3 hours ago, AUght2win said:

I think what fascinates me so much about this game is that how it impacted both programs and both coaches. It was Dabo's first really big win. And Chizik's career would go on an unprecedented decline. 

If Auburn had held on, maybe 2012 doesn't happen the way it does. Of course, that means 2013 doesn't either. But winning cures a ton of problems. Just take a look at the Steelers and Antonio Brown. When you win, locker room problems just tend not to happen as much. After all, everybody is happy and there is no dissension. 

If Auburn wins this game, we would still beat FAU and a top 10 USC in Columbia. We would be 5-0, our streak would be at 22, and there would undoubtedly be buzz of a repeat title run. Barrett Trotter would likely stay in place as the starter, and in hindsight he may be the most overlooked Auburn QB in a long time. This young team would have had more time to grow up, and perhaps they gel.

Maybe nothing could have stop Gene's total loss of the locker room. Maybe this would have just postponed the inevitable. Who knows? All I know is that looking back, this game ended up being historic. 

I definitely think Barrett is probably overhated, him getting banged up around the time he did kinda hurt his reputation though. I think he was close to healthy Sean White level, not quite as smart with the ball though 

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9 minutes ago, AUght2win said:

"There" isn't a real place. College national titles are entirely dependent on luck and the opinions of newspaper employees. Dye sustained success probably better than any Auburn coach in history. 

I definitely think chizik deserves some respect for reaching an official championship game, the only other person in this programs history to do it was his successor. Sustained success is cool but, at least with every other sport, history typically remembers the guys who bring in the rings more favorably, coach and player. Now I’m not saying Chizik is a better coach whatsoever, but from a national perspective, I would think his title winning season is remembered more than any single one of Dye’s, and it’s likely because he reached “there”. 

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4 hours ago, AUght2win said:

My memory of this game was that Clemson shellacked us from the opening gun. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to revisit it to see if this was the case. Turns out, that couldn't be further from the truth...

That game turned on dime. As I recall we make what you call a "statement drive". Afterward all Clemson

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54 minutes ago, AUght2win said:

"There" isn't a real place. College national titles are entirely dependent on luck and the opinions of newspaper employees. Dye sustained success probably better than any Auburn coach in history. 

???

Someone has to have the record to get there...a place, the NC game...and the chance to win. Auburn did twice.

Call it luck. Lots of folks called it prayer that year....not to keep winning, necessarily. That was just the icing. There was something otherworldly about the entire thing. 

😉🦋

I just can't "dis" any coach we've ever had, even while I recognize when a season shows signs of needing to end and pass the torch. 

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Little did we know that we’d see this same kind of game trajectory play out repeatedly when our then OC became HC. And, instead of cutting bait, we’d keep hanging on and hoping that something might change for an additional 4 years (and counting) with that guy. All the while, seeing the blueprint of what our program could be with the program that used to be AU-lite. Thanks for the depressing topic, lol.

Edited by fredst
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1 hour ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

I definitely think Barrett is probably overhated, him getting banged up around the time he did kinda hurt his reputation though. I think he was close to healthy Sean White level, not quite as smart with the ball though 

Watching him throw in that Clemson game was impressive. He could chuck it and had no hesitation in doing so. 

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2 hours ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

I definitely think chizik deserves some respect for reaching an official championship game, the only other person in this programs history to do it was his successor. Sustained success is cool but, at least with every other sport, history typically remembers the guys who bring in the rings more favorably, coach and player. Now I’m not saying Chizik is a better coach whatsoever, but from a national perspective, I would think his title winning season is remembered more than any single one of Dye’s, and it’s likely because he reached “there”. 

Look at Tubbs though. Or Bowden. Circumstances beyond any of their control prevented them from a natty. Same with Dye in 1983. I just don't like the idea of judging people by national titles. Because college football has never had a true national champion, and it may never have one. This sport is so uniquely stupid in its subjectivity. 

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2 hours ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

I definitely think chizik deserves some respect for reaching an official championship game, the only other person in this programs history to do it was his successor. Sustained success is cool but, at least with every other sport, history typically remembers the guys who bring in the rings more favorably, coach and player. Now I’m not saying Chizik is a better coach whatsoever, but from a national perspective, I would think his title winning season is remembered more than any single one of Dye’s, and it’s likely because he reached “there”. 

Also I do think 1983 is a special special year. Obviously not as much as 2010 because as luck would have it we were the undisputed champs. But I checked out the 1983 numbers the other day, that team was legit.

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6 hours ago, fredst said:

Little did we know that we’d see this same kind of game trajectory play out repeatedly when our then OC became HC. And, instead of cutting bait, we’d keep hanging on and hoping that something might change for an additional 4 years (and counting) with that guy. All the while, seeing the blueprint of what our program could be with the program that used to be AU-lite. Thanks for the depressing topic, lol.

Malzahn absolutely coaches worse in second halfs. He has his script, starts hot (sometimes) but then clenches up and has no answer for adjustments.

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9 hours ago, AUght2win said:

Look at Tubbs though. Or Bowden. Circumstances beyond any of their control prevented them from a natty. Same with Dye in 1983. I just don't like the idea of judging people by national titles. Because college football has never had a true national champion, and it may never have one. This sport is so uniquely stupid in its subjectivity. 

Agreed. The 1983 and 2004 teams, if not others, were better than the 2010 team. Maybe a *lot* better. And the 2010 team is a 4-loss team minimum without Cam. 

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I was at this game and we were kicking their AZZ! It was overcast and cool, but when the clouds cleared and the sun came out we wilted! This is the game that supposedly Chiz had Malzahn to cut back the offense and stop using the hurry up to help the defense. It’s my opinion that this was the game that broke the Chiz/Gus coaching relationship and caused Gus to take a pay cut to go to Ark State.

Edited by imaolgatiger

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