Week 1 down. My Tigers had a good opening day. The first half of the game was a little shaky for the Tigers. The defense wasn't overly aggresive like in years past, but the played pretty sound football except for the 3 face masking penalties on the first drive which gave La Tech 3 first downs and basically allowed them to walk down the field and punch it in.
The offense is going to be very unpredictable if they call plays for the rest of the season the same way they did during the first game. The offense looks to be very fast paced. The running game looks like they are going to take the old thunder and lightning approach with Ben Tate providing the Thunder and freshman Onterrio McCaleb providing the lightning. Both went over 100 for the game with McCaleb being the first freshman since Vincent (Bo) Jackson to go over the century mark. Chris Todd still has a bubble gum arm and if I were the offensive coaches wouldn't trust him throwing to many deep balls; he does put the balls where they need to be on the short and intermmediate routes. Just to keep the defense honest they even called a running play with Todd so the defense couldn't just assume that Todd was the passer with Kodi Burns coming in to do the running plays from the QB spot.
The offensive line was pretty impressive providing Todd with plenty of time to throw the ball all night. On some plays Todd didn't have anyone to throw to because of good coverage by the Bulldog defense, but on these rare occassions Todd checked down to his safety valve which was usually the running back and most of the time still made positive yardage. Todd became the school record holder for the longest play from scrimmage with his 93 yard TD pass on a nice out and up route by the reciever, I forget his name off hand but it was a thing of beauty.
The defense played a nice game limiting big plays by the Bulldog offesne all night. Other than the opening drive by La Tech where Auburn gave the Bulldog's 3 first downs with face masking penalties which led to 7 points the Tigers only gave up two field goals the rest of the way. Auburn usually put 8 men in the box and only rushed the defensive line the vast majority of the night and still got really good pressure on the QB which is an encouraging sign. D coordinator Ted Roof trusted a true freshman to man the free safety spot and he didn't disappoint with a nice interception at the two yard line in the game. The only problem I had with the defense is why put 8 men in the box if you aren't going to blitz some of them? It seems to invite trouble if a team has a good tight end, which ironically enough was who scored the TD for the Bulldogs.
The special teams played really well as Wes Byrum hit 3 field goals in the game, two of them which were from over 45 yards. With Fannin and McCaleb returning kicks the kick return game is in good hands and it will not be a matter of if a return for TD will happen but when. It didn't happen this game but I am confident it will happen before the season is over.
Over all I was more impressed with Chizik's debut than either of the other two debuting coaches in the SEC simply because Auburn was playing better compitition than Tennessee or Mississippi State. It doesn't take a whole lot to beat a team badly who is in their debut year in FBS football like Tennessee did especially when you are just piling on points for the sake of piling on point by still passing the ball in the 3rd and 4th quarters when you already have a 40 point lead. I mean really is it neccessary to still have your starting QB in the game when you are winning by 40 and a full quarter still left in the game? Mississippi State put a beating on an FCS team.
We will get to see two of the new SEC coaches going at it this coming weekend as Mississippi State and Auburn go at it in the SEC opener for both teams which will be a better indication of where each team stands and what direction each team is going in. While Tennessee has UCLA coming to town to see if their offensive output was more a product of who they were playing against or if they have made significant improvements as a team. Stay tuned for my next blog on Tigers after the Mississippi State game this weekend. All comments are welcome, as well as critisism of my blog just keep it courteous and give valid arguments as to why anyone disagrees with my opinion. Thanks.