Game Review – Iron Bowl Style

Iron Bowl Game Review

The T-town Beatdown.  A Barn Burning.  Pains for the Plains.  Auburn sent around the bowl and down the hole, Roll Tide Roll!  Gene takes one to the chinny in Bryant-Denny.  It’s the Cry of the Tigers.  Bama turns Tigers into kittens.  Nick gives thanks and spanks Auburn.  Nick-knack, Family Smacked, Give Ole Gene a severance.

Any headline that you want to use to describe Saturday’s epic beat down simply doesn’t aptly do justice to Alabama’s absolute demolition of a really, really bad Auburn football team.  Auburn played the role of a bizarro Honey Badger (or Honey Tigers if you prefer) where these Tigers let you take what you want because they simply don’t care…about anything.  How else do you explain the slaughter that resulted in the largest halftime lead Alabama has ever had against Auburn (42-0)?  When you realize that Alabama had the same number of touchdowns (7) as Auburn had first downs then you do have to wonder if these paper Tigers cared about anything?  By the way they tackled, or attempted to tackle, they clearly didn’t care about getting embarrassed on the field.  By the litany of transgressions over the last year or two, these Tigers clearly haven’t cared about embarrassing themselves off the field, either.  And by failing to show up when Gene Chizik needed them the most, they clearly didn’t care about their poor embattled coach.  However, Alabama did most certainly care about beating Auburn.  The result was a historic 49-0 beating that could have easily been 149-0 if Nick Saban wanted it to be.  Nick Saban the merciful….taking a knee at the Auburn five may have hurt Auburn fans worse than the final score.  Ahh, good times!  Anyway, let’s just cut to the chase and get on with reviewing the pains for the Plains, shall we???

Alabama on Offense

I honestly believe eleven corpses could have tackled better than Auburn did Saturday.  I also think it would have been less embarrassing for the Tigers if they’d just played dead instead of going thru the motions of pretending to try and make a tackle.  Bama running plays netted 267 yards including runs for  32, 38 and 19 yards by three different backs.  Passing plays were proficient totaling 216 yards with the longest ones going for 20, 37, 29 and 38 yards to two different receivers.  AJ was never sacked and threw four touchdown passes.  As a result, Alabama scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions and converted their first 11 third-downs in a row.  Converting 11 straight third downs is hard enough to accomplish during a walk thru against tall grass, let alone 11 defenders, but that’s exactly what it looked like for most of the afternoon – an Alabama walk thru.  It’s impossible to determine whether Alabama is that good or if Auburn is that bad but the deadly combination of the two led to a comical 49-0 lead just one Alabama possession into the third quarter.  I mean, do you concentrate on just how bad Auburn was or do you applaud Bama for busting their chops?????  What a train wreck…

I Wanna Be Your Sledgehammer:  Four of the first five Bama plays featured Eddie Lacy running the ball right at the heart of the AU defense and these plays established that Auburn’s front line was in for a looong afternoon.  Utilizing a three wide receiver look (either in shotgun or under center), Alabama attacked the Tigers four man front and their two undersized and under-talented linebackers.  The Tide’s o-line carved gaping holes in the AU front four and the other seven Tiger defenders were left looking like four-year olds trying to chase down a bouncing superball that fell out of a large vending machine…and then the vending machine fell on them.  Ouch.

Tush Push:  If you still have the game recorded somewhere, go back and watch Alabama’s first touchdown run by Eddie Lacy.  However, instead of watching Lacy, lock your eyes on Jesse Williams and follow him as he finds poor Jake Holland.  Poor Jake.  Jesse and Jake locked horns around the goal line and, when the whistle finally blew, Williams taken Jake back Australia with him.  (Note: You did know Jesse is from Australia, right?  And he’s not even a punter!  Verne only includes that nine times per Alabama broadcast.  Sigh.)

Righty Tighty:  The Lighthouse would like to shine a bright spotlight on this week’s unsung hero – tight end Brian Vogler.  Vogler’s blocks were largely responsible for the first two touchdown runs by Eddie Lacy so we are singing Brian’s song this week.  On the first TD, Vogler sealed the left side edge allowing Lacy to walk in untouched to the corner of the end zone.  On the second TD, Vogler was lined up with Jesse Williams as offset fullbacks.  Vogler’s lead block opened the way for Lacy and caused Verne to congratulate his good buddy in Colorado Dean Fogalar…(wtf Verne?).  All told, we found at least five outstanding blocks for Dean Brian Fogalar-Vogler!

Men of Constant Sorrow:  Just a quick point about the Alabama offensive line – they were outstanding.  Numerous times the front four of the AU defense was relocated 3, 4 and 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.  Honestly, this looked very similar to the Western Carolina game.  Not a shot – just a fact.

Anatomy of the Follies of the Three Stooges :  These three plays sum up the game, the season and the end of Gene Chizik’s career.  Up 35-0, an Auburn fumble gave Alabama the ball at the AU 35 and the Tide used these three plays to humiliate three Auburn defenders (on each play) and eventually score.

  1. A slow draw to Yeldon out of the shotgun found AU’s Darrin Bates nose to nose with Yeldon as soon as he got the football.  One “Circle Button” move later, Bates was grasping for air and Yeldon was around the corner after stiff arming (DE) Dee Ford as though he were a child.  Just as Yeldon hit full speed, he hit the brakes allowing the cement footed Jake Holland to stumble past him like a drunken sailor.  What could have been a five yard loss turned into a 7 yard gain as Yeldon simply abused 3 Tiger kittens.
  2. After a false start created a 2nd and 8, AJ fired a quick screen to Christion Jones on the outside.  First Mincy took an angle that led him straight into Auburn’s other corner, Chris Davis and they collided into each other.  This gaffe freed up Jones to get back to the line of scrimmage where, once again, Jake Holland plodded by and whiffed on the tackle – shocking, right?  This slight pause allowed Mincy to get back into the play and allowed Jones to flatten him as help from other defenders finally arrived.  A three yard loss turned into a four yard gain and embarrassed three Tigers once again.
  3. Three continued to be the magic number as Bama faced a 3rd and 4 from the Auburn 29 (cue up the three stooges follies music).  AJ hit Amari Cooper with a simple slant that brought him into the middle of three Auburn defenders.  Whitehead led the charge as he made first contact with Cooper.  Unfortunately, most of him collided with Mincy who, too, was trying to make the tackle.  The resulting carnage of Whitehead’s collision with Mincy created enough wreckage to wipe out Jake Holland who, not surprisingly, was a step slow to the party.  The result left three AU defenders literally lying on the ground while Cooper waltzed into the end zone for a 29 yard touchdown.  I mean, seriously – Leno can’t write this kind of comedy!

What’s the Hurry:  For the third week in a row, Alabama experimented with a version of the no huddle offense.  Saban stated that once they identify a look that they want to attack, they will go no-huddle to prevent their opponent from substituting.  This worked to great effect and I look for this to continue to be utilized against UGA.

Hell’s Bell:  One thing that Bama could ill afford was another injury to a wide receiver so the loss of Kenny Bell is pretty disappointing.  Before you poo-poo Bell’s importance, know that his crossing routes have been a staple of the offense and he’s also averaged 25.4 yards per catch as a deep threat.  This big loss has Alabama contemplating taking the redshirt off true freshman Chris Black.  Black had an outstanding high school resume and it showed when he caught 5 passes for 97 yards in the A-Day game.  The Lighthouse thinks he’ll be on the field against UGA as a slot receiver as Bama holds nothing back to get an SEC and National Championship.

Alabama on Defense

How exactly does one dissect how the Alabama defense completely dismantled the woeful Auburn offense?  I mean, do you go into great detail describing how Mike Tyson knocked out Alan in the Hangover?  It’s a heavyweight against an overweight.  It’s Iron Mike versus Fat Jesus for the Iron Bowl.  It’s Alabama against Auburn.  One punch – lights out.  But the Alabama version of Mike Tyson allowed Auburn to keep their ears so that every shriek of every Auburn fan will be theirs to cherish – every fan who cried “BOOOOOOOOOO – YOU SUCK!” will reverberate forever in their perfect ears.  What a miserable vomitous mass Auburn turned out to be this season…

Double Trouble:  I have to lead with this because it was the only significant detail that came out of the Auburn game regarding the defense.  First, there was no pass rush to speak of.  Now, Bama never blitzed but, still, you expected the Tide’s front four to massacre the Aubie o-line.  Sadly, Alabama recorded only two sacks and this allowed time for the woefully inadequate Wallace to complete long passes of 16, 17 and 23 yards to Emory Blake.  I don’t need to tell you about the recent struggles of the Bama secondary and how it translates to the Georgia game.

Dee-Fence:  Dee Milliner had a really nice game.  Auburn challenged him three times yet Dee never allowed a completion.  Dee collected two more pass breakups and continued to show that he’s an outstanding corner.  I think Saban will have to man him up on King or Mitchell this Saturday which is contrary to the way Bama typically uses their corners (they typically are boundry corners who line up based on the alignment of the ball rather than against particular individuals).

Last Rites:  It was only fitting that DePriest played his best game of the season as he needed to be on hand to administer the last rites for Chiz.  Trey’s pass coverage was outstanding as Gary Danielson astutely pointed out several times during the broadcast but DePriest also showed up with a huge tackle for loss when he shot the gap of the offensive line.  To be honest, we thought Trey would be a tremendous playmaker this season but, for whatever reason, he’s not been heard of too much.  Nice to see him come up big Saturday…

True Grit:  I LOVE that Geno Smith blitzed into the AU backfield twice, taking on and taking out the big Tiger fullback.  For the second week in a row, Geno showed that he’s not afraid of knocking some heads and, for a true freshman corner, the physicality of the position is typically the biggest transition.  It took Dre Kirkpatrick a couple of years before he could go all Olivia Newton-John on people but Geno looks to be a physical youngster!  Let’s get physical, Geno!

Big Butts:  The last point I’ll make on the defense is the play of Jesse Williams and Brandon Ivory.  Between these two large mammals, they don’t give up much in the middle of the line.  Both are able to maintain their feet and their leverage, disrupting everything in the middle of the line of scrimmage.  This will be huge against the vaunted UGA running game this week.

Alabama on Special Teams

Although Cade Foster didn’t have any touchbacks, Auburn’s best field position on a kickoff was only their own 26.  The coverage team was outstanding.  Also, Cody Mandell busted out the whoopin’ stick with a 50 yard punt and a 47 yard punt.  Meanwhile, Steven Clark was Mr Shankopotumus as he bungled his way to a 34.6 yard average including a 19 yarder.  Lastly, Bama was finally muff free on the punt returns!  Woot!  Sure, they didn’t get any return yardage but at least they caught the ball!

Conclusion

This game featured the largest gap in wins between the two teams since 1950 and it more than showed up on the field.  With the loss, Auburn successfully completed the worst record by a team within two years of claiming a national championship which is why the stale Chiz-whiz was unceremoniously kicked to the Toomer’s curb following the game.  The Iron Bowl rivalry hasn’t been this one-sided in a long time, as Auburn hasn’t even scored an offensive touchdown against Alabama since early in the 4th quarter of the 2010 game.  And, Saturday was the first time in the series that a team has scored more than 40 points in consecutive games, with the 42-0 halftime lead being the largest halftime deficit in history.  Auburn pleaded no lo contendre, finally receiving Saban’s mercy five yards short of a historic margin of victory.  In a word, it was ugly.

So, what exactly did we learn from this game?  Sadly, not much.  The only real moment of significance was when Kenny Bell was carted off the field with a broken leg.  But now Alabama prepares for what essentially equates to their fourth semi-final game in five years – been here, done this.  Meanwhile, Georgia finally steps onto the big stage for the very first time in BCS history.  Will Bama’s experience win the day?  Or, will Georgia’s Richt finally find a way to show up and win a big game?  As of now, the Lighthouse isn’t feeling too good about this one but we are hoping reviews of Georgia v South Carolina and Georgia v Florida will change our minds.  Know this – Georgia can exploit Bama’s secondary far better than LSU or A&M could ever conceive of doing so, if Alabama can’t generate any pressure on Aaron Murray, it will be a long Dawg day afternoon.

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