Oct. 22, 2013
These are happy times around the Auburn Football Complex. Players praise their coaches. Coaches praise their players. Players praise each other. It’s a lot more fun for the fans, too. They can look forward to going to work and talking to the guy in the next office or next cubicle.
That’s what happens when you turn a 1-7 start in 2012 to a 6-1 start and No. 11 national ranking in 2013. For all the marketing campaigns schools try, winning is the best marketing tool of all.
As impressive as last Saturday’s 45-41 victory over Texas A&M was, as impressive as Auburn’s record is, the best thing this team has done is get better week after week after week. The Auburn team that beat Texas A&M bore little resemblance to the one that struggled to a 31-24 win over Washington State in the season-opener and certainly little resemblance to the one that fell behind 21-0 in the first half at LSU.
Yes, these are good times at Auburn. But what lies ahead?
The Tigers will beat Florida Atlantic on Saturday to move to 7-1 on the season. With a loss or two by teams in front of them, they’ll likely move into the top 10. And then we get to the four-game stretch of Southeastern Conference Games that will decide how this season will be remembered.
Auburn could win them all. It could lose them all, though it won’t. Reality will probably fall somewhere in between.
The Tigers will be favored at Arkansas, but the Razorbacks will be coming an open week and will view that game as a chance to turn their season around. A trip to Tennessee is next, and that one might be a tossup. And then there is Amen Corner.
For the first time, Georgia and Alabama will visit Jordan-Hare Stadium in the same season. Georgia will be healthier then than it is now. Alabama is the unanimous pick as the nation’s No. 1 team.
But this Auburn team fears no one, and it shouldn’t. …
What Ryan White did for Auburn last Saturday at Texas A&M is nothing short of remarkable. When safety Josh Holsey went down on the final play of practice last Thursday, White was moved from cornerback to safety. The responsibilities at those two positions are quite different.
Without a single snap of practice, White more than held his own against perhaps the nation’s most prolific offense. He had a crucial interception inside the 5-yard line.
That is all quite amazing for a guy who wasn’t viewed as good enough to do anything more than hold for kicks in his first three Auburn seasons. …
Did Clemson coach Dabo Swinney really say, after being drubbed 51-14 at home, that if his team played Florida State 10 times it would win five? Really?
I don’t believe I’d have said that. …
I didn’t like the way Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel acted over the summer. I didn’t like his barking at Auburn players in a game that was otherwise played with a great deal of class. But, unless something changes, he’ll get my vote for the Heisman Trophy. He’s the best player I’ve seen, and it’s not even close.
Some say last Saturday’s loss might have killed his chances to win a second consecutive Heisman. How could that be? He took his team to 41 points, the 10th straight time the Aggies have scored 40-plus or more. They lost because they couldn’t stop Auburn from running the ball down their throats, not because of anything Manziel did.
It’s too bad for Manziel that Texas A&M is as bad on defense as it is good on offense. With just a little bit of defense, the Aggies could be undefeated and headed toward a championship.
Word is, by the way, that the shoulder injury Manziel suffered against Auburn won’t keep him from playing in Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. …
Who would have believed that, eight weeks into the season, the only three teams without at least two losses would be Alabama, Auburn and Missouri? …
Until next time …
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: