Behind Enemy Lines – Part 1
You may think I’m getting lazy, you may think I’m getting crazy (that rhymed), but in an effort to bring more banter to WarBlogle, and to promote diversity, I am starting a new weekly post written by someone from the other side (a Bammer). He’ll give his thoughts on the state of Auburn sports, the fan base, etc. He has promised no bashing, no flaming, no elitist mentality, and no stupidity (although sometimes he can’t help it). Let me know if you think this is a good idea, a bad idea, or you just don’t care, but once again, let him have it.
I’ve always liked to think of myself as an objectivist when it comes to college football, especially when it comes to Auburn. Of course working in the sports media will make you somewhat objective — you learn to loathe each team’s fan base equally — but also growing up with so many Auburn friends (not to mention fellow OHS alums who currently play for the Tigers), as well as family members, makes you feel empathy — if not necessarily sympathy — for the folks in orange and blue.
I say all that to say that I’ve watched Auburn through the lens of someone who enjoys good football, regardless of who’s wearing the jersey. And what I’ve seen from Auburn simply hasn’t been good football.
Forget about the stats, the fact that Auburn is a few plays from 6-0, whatever. That sounds like the same brand of excuses some ‘Bama fans made for Mike Shula on and off until he was ultimately fired. Auburn simply isn’t playing good offensive football.
Blame whomever you wish. Blame Franklin for failing to install the system properly and failing to properly utilize what weapons he has. Blame the players for not being the right kind of people to execute the system (by the way, there’s another excuse ‘Bama fans have made for Shula). Blame Tuberville for giving his OC carte blanche at the beginning of the season, then being unable to resist the temptation to meddle when things weren’t working.
The fact is, it’s simply not good football. Franklin’s offense is built on the premise of stretching a defense from sideline to sideline with short passes and zone-read hand-offs. Well, that simply won’t work in the SEC — defenses are too fast — unless you can also stretch them vertically. Chris Todd can’t do that — he’s not a breakaway running threat and his arm could be called “suspect” at best.
Is Burns the answer? I don’t know — Auburn fans keep insisting he’s mistake-prone (a popular mantra for black quarterbacks through the years, by the way). But I can tell you that, as a ‘Bama fan, Kodi Burns scares the hell out of me. Chris Todd? Whatever.
This seems like a good time to mention that what Auburn’s defense is doing, by the way, gets more impressive by the day in light of what I just said about Auburn’s offense, which can’t sustain drives or field position. Well-coached defenses are never out of position, hit hard and always make sound tackles. Auburn does all those things, and does them consistently (the 23 points LSU scored in the second half were the result of good plays by them, on the road, under crazy amounts of pressure). By virtue of that D alone, Auburn’s a threat to win every game remaining on its schedule.
But the offense remains a liability, like an injured dog carrying around a dead fourth leg. We’ll see what happens this week against Arkansas. If Franklin’s unit can’t move the ball against the Hawgs — and for the record, they’re every bit as bad as advertised — then they’ve got major, MAJOR problems.