Admittedly, a lot of different things worry me. I worry about the health and safety of my family. I worry about the viability of our economy. I worry that President Bush will decide that the whole darned country needs to be picked up and moved because of global warming.
But as much as anything, I wake up at 2:45 in the morning and worry about football. Especially before the Auburn game. Year after year it's the one game in which we generally do something stupid we haven't done before (make Ben Leard look like Joe Flippin' Montana) or do something we haven't done before (It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Tra Battle not giving up a 1st down on 4th and 23 because of intercranial bruising!).
And while it is a totally futile gesture on my part, I still worry about the whole thing. This is exacerbated by the fact that we play Auburn during that part of the season in which the season's success is generally defined. This year is no different. Win against Auburn and Tech and we finish 10-2, likely going to the Capitol One Bowl against either Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan State. Lose to Auburn or Tech (or Heaven forbid, both) and we may be looking at the Independence Bowl. No sir, no reason to worry about these last two at all . . .
Now, you might think that I would have a hard time finding people and things to worry about on a 5-5 Auburn squad that just got through pulling away from the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks for a 37-20 victory to snap a four game losing streak. You'd be wrong. Auburn week brings to the surface a guy who Larry Munson would urge to look on the sunny side. In particular, I'm worried about . . .
Kodi Burns. As best I can tell, he's Randall Cobb with more experience is his offense and a better arm. And possibly more athletic out of the pocket. Did I mention he had almost 300 all-purpose yards in that game against Tennessee-Martin? The Skyhawks are not exactly the '85 Bears, but that's a sign of improvement for an Auburn offense that passed "anemic" in the third week of the season and vaulted around "convoluted" at the midway point when they fired Tony Franklin.
The Auburn offense in general. I predicted before the season that Auburn would have the spread clicking just in time for us after some early struggles. I may have been a bit low and outside on that one. Instead, I'm now concerned that Auburn is getting their spread-lite offense together in time for us. I'm just waiting for Tuberville and Hugh Nall to recognize that our defensive line couldn't stop Ben Tate on 3rd and 2 if you gave them 4 chainsaws and a barrell of napalm. I fear that Auburn's coaches began to cobble together an offensive plan last week, and we'll be the guinea pigs for its coming out party.
Matt Stafford. I'm wondering if he can put together two performances of that caliber in a row. So far this season he's either been on, or had communication or accuracy issues. I think it may all be coming together, and it will have to, because Auburn is not going to let Knowshon Moreno beat them if they can help it. Which brings me to my fourth concern . . .
The Auburn defensive front. Tuberville sat three of his front four against UT-Martin to get them healed and rested for us. That was so kind of him. I'm not sure who's starting at right tackle in place of Justin Anderson, who was finally starting to look like the light had come on. I think it's either Josh Davis or the Easter Bunny. Either way, I'm worried.
Tommy Trott. The Auburn tight end is averaging a shade under 4 catches and 33 yards a game in the War Iggles last three games. The 'Dawgs have shown an inability all season to cover gifted pass catching tight ends. If there is any equity in the universe, South Carolina's Jared Cook will pay our linebackers 1% of his NFL signing bonus. Because we (along with LSU and Ole Miss) helped get that kid paid. Anyway, in my nightmare Trott will be good for 2-3 passes in the flats which our defense will mysteriously decline to cover, despite the fact that Trott may be Auburn's best option in the passing game.
There are, of course, a variety of other things that are giving me the butterflies this week, but I'll sit on those until Cocktail Thursday and the Friday Five Things (now, no longer relying on craptacular hotel internet access!). Until later . . .