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3 Things That Worry Me About Auburn

We face our oldest rival with our playoff positioning on the line, a tenuous grasp of the edge in the all-time series, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an injured Bulldog, and facing a coach that is fighting for his contractual buyout. What, me worry?

SEC Championship - Auburn v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Here is what I’m NOT worried about come Saturday afternoon’s kickoff:

1) I don’t know what to think. We run well, then can’t run block at all, then can’t run it in from the 1 on 7 plays, then score running when just trying to burn clock. Sometimes we can’t pass the ball, then we throw 2 TDs, then can’t throw or catch, then score a 30 yd TD pass play. We forget we even have tight ends, then throw 8 to them. We can’t stop a team, can’t get a turnover, then get 3. We are horrible on 3rd down, then convert 3 of them into the end zone.

Florida was a national leader in sacks and turnovers, yet they only got to Fromm once with no turnovers. Kentucky is impossible to score against, they have the best rushing attack and we can’t stop anyone, yet we hold them to a season low and we run for over 3 bills. Is this schizophrenia? Surely there’s a more formal name to this malady, or identity crisis, than just being a fan of the football team of the University of Georgia. So I’ve given up worrying about this week what I was worried about last week.

2) Tyson Campbell. Has Campbell been burned deep this year? Several times, and probably should’ve been more. Has the cornerback given up key offensive gains in obvious passing downs? Double-digits I’m sure. Has he missed assignments and allowed TD catches to his side of the field? Sure has.

But he’s not getting targeted because he’s bad. He’s not getting targeted because he’s a liability. He’s young, he’s very athletic, he has a ton of upside, and… he’s not wearing #18. Tyson Campbell is not a weakness, he simply is opposite of the Red & Black version of Darrelle Revis and Deion Sanders - so I would pick on him too. He will only get better, and I’m not worried.

3) Starting Running Back. Whoever that guy is, he is either a) guaranteed to have a good game or b) his backup will. Much like Gurley eventually supplanted Keith Marshall, and Michel subbed in when Chubb went down, Elijah Holyfield performed admirably when it was apparent D’Andre Swift wasn’t 100%. So much so that he got his first 100 yard game, took the brunt of the carries to let Swift heal, and now Swift spells him with a change of pace and change of direction that create both joy and tears in his path.

Based on his last two performances, I will be interested to see if Swift regains the starting nod, or if Holyfield continues trotting out with the 1s on the first offensive series. But either way, I am by no means worried.

Your Georgia Bulldogs are now SEC EAST CHAMPS, they have their dance card punched for Atlanta in a month, and are looking to kick a TigleWarPlain when he’s down. Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch on AM radio, so here’s what I am worried about this Saturday finally back Between The Hedges with backing vocals by Todd Blackledge (who I actually like as a broadcaster, and hate as a PSU QB in 1982):

1) The Fourth Quarter. We want to win the fourth quarter. We want to wear down the opponent so that there’s nothing left and we can ground and pound them into submission, right? Not so fast.

I like stats. I detest having to formulate them myself from raw data. But I did a simple enterprise (DawginStLouis you may want to check my math) because there was a niggling in the back of my brain. Turns out the 4Q is our lowest scoring quarter on average. We didn’t score at all in the final 15 minutes of our first 3 games (because all were firmly in control of course). But our supposedly notoriously slow starts still give us 9.56 points per game in the first 15 over the season, and only 5.89 in the last 15.

Additionally, our defense gives up more points in the 4Q than any other. LSU being the only one where we gave up more than 10 (and one of 3 quarters of the total 36 played where any opponent has scored more than 7 in a single quarter). Yet we’ve actually lost the scoring edge in the 4Q in 3 of our last 4 contests (Vandy, LSU and UK). Most of our games have been well in hand by that point, and we start subbing liberally, but we need to be prepared to finish the job because we are sure going to need it before we get our bowl nod. This is just something that really hasn’t been tested to a large degree, other than LSU.

2) Auburn hasn’t scored a defensive touchdown this year. And Georgia hasn’t given up a defensive touchdown this year. Yet.

I was surprised that less than 50 teams have a scoop and score or pick six in 2018. Only 79 teams did all of last year. I figured that in college football, with all the crazy passing, and laterals, and trickeration, and college kickers, that most every team would have one by November. Love those outliers.

As much as they’re down, Auburn’s defense is no joke. They are 36th in total defense, 13th in scoring defense, 34th against the rush, and 16th in 3rd downs. They register 36 players with at least 1 tackle and 19 with 10 or more on the season. Led by DeShaun Davis and Daniel Thomas, they also boast Nick Coe who has 7 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Defensive TDs really sway momentum, and I want to give the University of Auburn exactly none.

3) Fumble-itis. Balls on the ground have really helped us the last few games when our opponents start to piece together some fashion of an offensive drive. Then, being the gracious team that we are, we are really good at giving it right back to them via the same medium.

Our fumbles seem to be of every shape and sort. Fumbled kick-off returns, bad snaps, poor hand-offs, you name it we’ve done it. Other than the game-sealing fumble by Mecole in the LSU game (kid was just trying to make a play), they really haven’t hurt us. They’ve only kept games competitive, or suppressed the final margin of victory, or both. But this is Auburn. And we absolutely positively CANNOT give these {cout << “ASCII Value of “ << c << “ MASCOT IDENTITY” << int(c); return 0;} any more opportunities with the football other than from the foot of Rodriguez Roberto Raul Ramon Ronaldo Rodrigo Blankeship. Period.

What worries you about the Tigers coming to town? Leave them in the comments below. And as always…