Sept. 26, 2013
What did Auburn’s second-half rally at LSU last Saturday night mean? It depends on who you ask.
Auburn players are convinced it meant they were good enough to win if their mistakes hadn’t helped LSU get out to a 21-0 first-half lead. Head coach Gus Malzahn is convinced it meant that that his first Auburn team will continue to get better as it goes.
The Tigers amassed 333 yards offense in the second half. They ran 48 plays in the final two quarters and had LSU’s defense gasping for air. Had it not been for an untimely illegal motion penalty, they would have been half a yard away from making it a one-touchdown game. And who knows what it would have meant if an onsides kick recovered by Auburn had not been given back to LSU by the replay official.
If you listen to talk radio or talking heads on television, you’d get the impression that LSU sat on that 21-0 lead. So I decided to look back and see if maybe I had missed something, if maybe LSU did let the air out of things. I didn’t miss anything.
Here are the facts:
After scoring early in the second quarter to go up 21-0, LSU had seven offensive possessions. LSU tried at least one pass on all but the last of those possessions. LSU coaches were never close to comfortable enough to sit their starters on either side of the ball.
LSU sat on nothing.
Auburn wasn’t good enough to win because it didn’t play well enough in the first one quarter-plus to win. Auburn players were bitterly disappointed, because they believed from the start they were going to win and didn’t stop believing until the final minute. To say LSU somehow coasted because it led 21-0 at halftime is to ignore reality.
Here’s what I believe: I believe Auburn’s football team is much more dangerous than the national pundits, still looking at last season’s 3-9 record, believe it is. And I don’t believe LSU is as good as they believe it is.
Time will tell who is right.
There aren’t many things I like better about the NFL than college football, but there is one thing: Perceptions and so-called “eye tests” don’t matter. Only records matter.
In college football, polls matter for one more year. Then the ill-advised selection committee will take over. In either case, perception makes a difference and will continue to make a difference. Even deep into the season, what a team did last season or just whether national media figures like a team or like its coach impacts how it is viewed in the current season. That can and does, in turn, affect its ranking. And that’s not right. …
It’s not surprising that coaches who have been burned by the new targeting rule are starting to complain. It’s a silly rule. Perhaps the silliest part of it is that, even if replay officials say a hit was legal and proper, the player’s team still draws a 15-yard penalty it doesn’t deserve. No one has explained how that makes any sense. …
Every college football season, the problem rears its head again. Holding calls are ridiculously inconsistent. I was reminded of that again when I saw a photo of Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams literally having his jersey almost torn off. There was no call, of course.
I’ll say again what I’ve said numerous times: There needs to be a national consensus on what is holding and what isn’t. Whatever is deemed to be holding should be called by officials every time they see it. Instead, what is holding in one game with one set of officials isn’t holding in another game with another set of officials.
Why that seems to be OK with so many people in college football is a mystery to me.
Until next time …
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: