from Colonel Mustard
That was a disappointing game to lose. I think the better team lost. We certainly can't complain about a talent gap between us and top programs. At the very worst the talent on those teams was even. We outgained them by 60 yards and were net 1 in turnovers. (I thought of the fumble on the fake punt not as a turnover but as losing the ball on downs.) Those stats should produce a 14-point win. The long interception return was too bad, but those things happen. I found the fake punt to be puzzling for three reasons: 1) We were outplaying them at that point in the game. 2) It promised to be a defensive game, and field position is precious. 3) Guys who rarely handle the ball were involved in the fake.
The defense played well enough for us to win the game. I was pleased that Auburn failed to attack Grixby more with Taylor. The line was outstanding and was in their backfield all day. Our overall tackling was poor, and that is a problem that needs to be addressed. I feel badly for Grixby because he gets into position but simply is not big enough to handle the WR he is matched with.
On offense I was impressed with the line. They did a solid job of run blocking and their pass-pro was good even when we went to the seven-step drop. I enjoy watching Swift play — he is a smart receiver with very good hands. I would have liked to see more of Jackson in the game, but his hand probably restricted him in the passing game. Lucky had some nice runs, but his field vision remains spotty from scrimmage. I was disappointed that we went away from the quick-hitting runs and the three-step-drop passes. When we went to the seven-step drops, we struggled to move the ball even though the pass-pro was good.
The bottom line is that in my view the better team lost. The fake punt certainly didn't help, but that didn't cost us the game, as no single play does. The most encouraging aspect of the season is that the talent gap has closed. The downside to the Cotton Bowl is that we outplayed Auburn and lost.
I feel badly for Zac that he didn't go out a winner. He has done a great deal for our program and I don't know where we (or particularly Bill) would be without him. Next year looks promising with many starters returning and the addition of Sam. See you in the spring.
Keep the faith (baseball season is six weeks away)
-- The Colonel