Samford Preview: Getting Right, Saying Thanks

samford-bulldogs-alternate-logo-2-primaryFollowing a performance that was found wanting in all facets of the game, the first in 24 games of the Malzahn era, Auburn comes home for one more game in Jordan-Hare Stadium for the 2014 season. Seniors like Nick Marshall, Cameron Artis-Payne, Corey Grant, CJ Uzomah, Quan Bray, Trovon Reed, Gabe Wright, Jeff Whitaker, and others will be walking through that tunnel one last time.

Think about that. That’s a lot of experience. That’s a lot of talent. That’s a lot of wins. That’s a lot of good memories. They deserve our thanks. But more importantly they deserve (and need) this game.

Auburn has been subjected to what has turned out to be one of the most difficult schedules in the history of college football. At this point in time, and it shouldn’t change too much in the next two weeks, all five of their road games have or will come to teams currently ranked in the top 12 of the College Football Playoff Poll. That is insane.

And also, like we’ve known for two years, they get both Georgia and Alabama on the road. Yes, they got both at home last year, but no team in the world has to play both of their two major rivals on the road in the same season, let alone at the end of the year.

That’s why Samford, and I’m sorry to Coach Sullivan and Kodi Burns, is such a welcome opponent this weekend. Last week was bad. The last two weeks were bad. And if you want to be negative, the last three weeks were bad. Something’s a little off.

One week it was the defense, the next week it was the defense and some voodoo witchcraft, and last week it was the offense, with a little bit of that defense that’s been around the last month.

If Auburn is going to want to contend in the Iron Bowl, things have to get much better. But let’s be honest, take away last week (which has never happened with Gus at the helm) and give Auburn one less inconceivable early snap, and we’re probably thinking the Iron Bowl is as good a matchup as it’s ever been.

But last week did happen, and it has let doubt creep in from every crevice. Therefore, again, it’s good to have Samford coming in this week.

It will be good to give those seniors one final Jordan-Hare farewell, but most importantly it will give them a substantial opponent to get things right.

In 2011, Auburn needed to use Samford for many of the same reasons as they loaded up for Alabama, but in this year’s case it’s not near as bad. As I said, something’s off, and this is the time to fix it. Plain and simple.

Coach Sullivan wants to win, and he’s going to coach his team to win, but he understands. He said himself this is the best team he’s ever played while coaching the Bulldogs, and he knows Auburn doesn’t have the luxury to fully take a week off.

I do expect to see a little bit of rotation at some positions that we haven’t seen rotate since Louisiana Tech, but I don’t expect Malzahn to treat this game any differently than an SEC opponent. He can’t do that right now. He needs to get whatever kink is there gone before next week.

Nick Marshall will throw to every receiver on the team. Jeremy Johnson will throw to a few as well. Roc and CAP will have 100 a piece as the defense fixes their problems against a smaller, slower offense. Auburn will make things right to win this game, and hope it’s enough to win in Tuscaloosa next week.

Auburn 52, Samford 10