The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (from The Last Waltz): Song for the Times returns this week because any excuse to watch this video is a good excuse. This song is one of the all-time greats, and it’s pretty appropriate for a matchup with Ole Miss. Come on, Tigers, send those Confederate-flag-waving Rebels back to Oxford!
One of the developing hallmarks of the 2011 Auburn offense is the constant rotation of quarterbacks, subbing in and out Kiehl Frazier on what seems like every other play. Frazier is a true freshman that came to Auburn with plenty of hype and appears to be the quarterback of the future. It’s understandable that Gus Malzahn wants to get his young QB valuable in-game experience, and Frazier’s level of raw talent seems to warrant playing time. Frazier has come up big on third down plays for Auburn in the Tigers last four games, and he occasionally breaks off a big run. But is Frazier’s contribution to the offense worth the disruption it causes for the “throwing quarterback” throughout the game? We’re not so sure about that. Continue reading
LSU and Alabama once again showed their dominance, and the Tigers and Tide can finally focus on one another. Both teams have bye weeks going into their matchup on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa. (By the way, sources tell me that the BCS champion will be crowned after that game, and the remainder of the season will be cancelled. Still waiting on confirmation.) The rest of the SEC — including Arkansas, all of a sudden — continues to sputter along. Aside from the top two teams, this year’s version of the SEC is shaping up to be as mediocre as it was in 2009. Continue reading
The worst-case scenario for Auburn entering its matchup with LSU was an embarrassing blowout loss. Well, that scenario was met.
Auburn held its own against the nation’s No. 1 team early, but the Tigers gave up two long touchdown passes in the final six minutes of the first half, and LSU completely dismantled the orange-and-blue Tigers in the second half. As lopsided as the final score was, Auburn really didn’t play a terribly poor game. It just so happened that Gene Chizik’s team met an LSU squad that was vastly superior in almost every aspect of the game.
After getting run over on the game’s opening drive, the Auburn defense bowed up and played well until two blown coverages allowed LSU’s lead to balloon from four to 18 points shortly before halftime. But frustrating penalties by Auburn defenders allowed LSU to extend drives on each scoring possession in the first half. In the second half, two turnovers directly led to 14 LSU points and shut the door on any slim chance Auburn might have had at making a comeback.
In what ended up being the most lopsided defeat of the Gene Chizik Era to date, Auburn wasn’t bad and even played well at times. But the Tigers were far from perfect, and anything other that a perfect game from Chizik’s team was going to likely end in disaster. Continue reading
For whatever reason, the Auburn-LSU rivalry has been defined by plenty of quirky moments on and off the field over the years. Normally, the event that eventually inspires a nickname occurs on game day. Depending on how things play out on Saturday, we might already have a nickname for this year’s edition of Auburn vs. LSU.
The Suspension Game.
Les Miles hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with information, but unless sources have been lying to reporters since Wednesday, cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and running back Spencer Ware will miss Saturday’s game due to failed drug tests. Ware is LSU’s starting running back, and Mathieu is one of the best defensive players in the country. Even without those two, LSU looks to be significantly better than Auburn, but you can’t expect a team to lose its best offensive and defensive players and not miss a beat. How Mathieu’s and Ware’s replacements handle themselves on Saturday will play a big role in determining the winner of this game.
LSU isn’t the only team with big personnel news this week. Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley, who was 4 of 7 for 90 yards in relief of Barrett Trotter against Florida, will make his first career start in Baton Rouge. Making his first start in the hostile environment of Tiger Stadium will definitely show the Auburn Family what the Leroy Legend is made of, and he’s been saying all the right things this week. Moseley has sounded confident in post-practice interviews, and Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn seem to have confidence in Moseley, calling him a “gunslinger.” Of course, it’s a lot easier for Moseley and his coaches to express confidence from the practice field in Auburn than in Death Valley with 90,000 fans screaming in their ears. Who knows if they’ll be able to walk the walk after talking the talk.
LSU was a 23-point favorite before Vegas pulled the line due to reports of the Bengal Tiger suspensions. One New Orleans casino dropped the line to 21.5, so it would appear the locals still have plenty of faith in their team. If Auburn can’t take advantage of LSU’s missing pieces, beating that 21.5-point spread will be a tough task. Continue reading
UPDATE: And the Valley Shook has video of Les Miles’ Wednesday-night press conference. Miles’ answers on suspension-related questions are about as evasive and confusing as you would expect.
So, Adria Goins, a sports reporter for KLSA News in Shreveport tweeted earlier today that three LSU players — Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon — are suspended for the Auburn game. (Her original tweet contained player names, but Goins deleted it and replaced it with a tweet sans player names.) Since then, other media outlets have picked up the story and reported the same information. If it is, in fact, true that those three will be out for the Auburn game, it certainly improves the orange-and-blue Tigers’ chances at winning. Here’s what LSU could be missing.
THAROLD SIMON — 6-foot-3, 187-pound cornerback, sophomore
Simon is more of a bit player in LSU’s defense, although, he has played in every game this season. For the year, he has 29 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one interception. Simon mostly backs up Morris Claiborne at left corner, so his absence won’t be largely felt. It will slightly hurt LSU’s depth, however.
TYRANN MATHIEU, 5-foot-9, 175-pound cornerback, sophomore
This one hurts the Bengal Tigers. Big time. The Honey Badger is one of the most well-known players in college football this year, and it’s for good reason. Mathieu has terrorized opposing offenses all over the field, compiling 42 tackles, five tackles for loss, five pass breakups, four forced fumbles, three fumble returns (two for touchdowns), two interceptions, 1.5 sacks and one quarterback hurry. In addition to being a defensive wonder, Mathieu also returns punts. He’s averaging nearly eight yards on 15 returns. It’s pretty fresh in Auburn fans’ minds that disaster can happen when mistakes are made in the punt-return game — thanks, Florida! — so the idea of a backup returning Steven Clark’s cloud-pokers sounds pretty nice.
Listed on the depth chart behind Mathieu at right corner is Ron Brooks, a six-foot, 179-pound senior. Brooks has played sparingly in seven games this year, so who knows if Les Miles will insert him into the lineup. One thing is clear — whoever replaces Mathieu will be a downgrade for LSU’s defense.
LSU is likely going to focus the entire energy of its front seven on stopping the run and getting after the quarterback. With Auburn needing to throw the ball more, Mathieu not being on the field will make life a bit easier for Clint Moseley, who is, oh by the way, making his first career start in Baton Rouge. No big deal. With Mathieu, LSU has allowed 176 passing yards per game. If Moseley can find a way to hit that number on Saturday, Auburn’s rushing game should do enough put some points on the scoreboard.
SPENCER WARE — 5-foot-11, 233-pound running back, sophomore
It’s hard to tell how much losing Ware will affect LSU’s offense. Ware is the kind of bruiser that can really wear — no pun intended — down an opposing defensive line. LSU has started slow, offensively, a few times this year but pulled away late thanks in large part to Ware’s carries. He’s only averaging 18 per game for 73 yards, but it has been enough to keep defenses honest and open up the passing game for Jarrett Lee.
So, who replaces Ware? Michael Ford and Alfred Blue have consistent received playing time this year. Ford is averaging 9.5 carries per game for 51 yards and has scored six touchdowns — just as many as Ware. Blue gets about 7.5 carries for 33.5 yards per game and has scored four touchdowns. The thing that stands out most is that all three of LSU’s running backs average at least four yards per carry. Ware averages and even four, Ford averages 5.36 (yikes) and Blue gets 4.52 per rush. With LSU’s nasty offensive line, it might not matter who is carrying the ball.
Before news of LSU’s possible suspensions, the purple-and-gold Tigers were a 23-point favorite in Saturday’s game. Does losing two starters and a reserve really change things. Well, considering that those two starters are LSU’s two best players, this game is not going to be as much of a cakewalk as many had imagined. Auburn still must deal with LSU’s sinister defensive line, the rest of a very good secondary, a great offensive line, good wide receivers and mind-boggling good play from Lee at quarterback.
The challenge is still great for Auburn, but Gene Chizik’s team certainly should feel better about itself going into Saturday’s game.
The first edition of the BCS rankings came out on Sunday night, and they had the same teams at Nos. 1 and 2 as this week’s power rankings. LSU and Alabama were dominant again in rolling over speed bumps toward their showdown on Nov. 5. While the top three SEC teams look like BCS contenders, the rest of the league is a mess. Aside from LSU, ‘Bama and Arky, the SEC might be having a — gasp! — down year.