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Not Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

October 30, 2009

Auburn takes the field early on Halloween to face the resurgent Ole Miss Rebels. What Tiger team claws out of the graveyard ground and shows up on Saturday is as they say, anyone’s guess. There is little doubt though we’ll see the best Ole Miss squad possible as we’ve run into these past 3 weeks as Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU arguably played their best ball of the fall against Auburn.

Fairly early in the 1800’s a young Mary Shelley authored a novel about a man who created a creature out of the various body parts of dead men. Victor Frankenstein warned of allowing ambition to push a man to do and believe things he should not. Chilling advice for us fans who pushed our expectations to monstrous heights by week 5.5.

Auburn is itself a cobbled together collection of talent from previous years, infused with some new talent and led by a talented and competent team of mad scientists and towel waving coaches. And while we may not be the same as last year, or even more than a glimpse of what we hope to see next year, we are playing a Frankenstein like season of ups, downs, joys and disappointments.

Defensively, Auburn will now come to grips with the likes of one Dexter McCluster. After his 25+ touches last week and 200+ all-purpose yards, this game isn’t about shutting down Jevan Snead any longer. No, this is about covering the sidelines and depth of the field – something Auburn just hasn’t done, or done consistently well all year. McCluster’s two biggest rushing games were against South Carolina and Arkansas, averaging over 5.5 yards per attempt. Last week against the Razorbacks, he lit up the receiving end with 7 touches, averaging over 19 yards per catch. There to pass or hand the ball off to him his Jevan Snead who has quite simply lit the field up in his past two games. Snead had 60+ yard plays in each week, completing more than 66% of his passes and lit the Razorbacks up for 300 + yards. In the Rebels two losses though, Snead has less than 140 yards and a completion percentage in the 30s. Asking Auburn’s defense to compare to the Gamecocks or Tide is too tall an order this year.

Offensively, Auburn’s fate will rest with Chris Todd and a replacement for Onterio McCalebb. Forget the additional receiving threat, no matter what Coach Taylor says.  I honestly don’t know what to make of the offense, but I don’t really believe all I’ve read about how much the team is behind Todd, how his shoulder isn’t reinjured and how Mario Fannin should see a larger role at tailback to help out Ben Tate. Ditto all the talk on the lack of execution. If Fannin or Pierre-Louis could replace the corner speed of McCalebb, I think we would see a return to the production of games 1 – 5. Otherwise, I think Ole Miss is going to replicate what we’ve seen from our last three opponents, with similarly haunting results for our Tigers: depressingly bad (and predictable) Auburn offense.

Former Auburn player, Patrick Trahan makes a somewhat awkward Plains homecoming visit and is a key piece of the Ole Miss front that stymied the rushing attack of Arkansas last week. The Rebel secondary is better than what that same game would suggest: giving up over 21 yards per completion against the same Ryan Mallett who hammered Auburn. A closer look at the performance against Alabama and South Carolina tells the more likely tale of the secondary we’ll see: 44% completion rate and 4.4 yard average and 47% completions and 6.5 yards respectively.

Summary on offense? Not much good news here folks, so wear your Navy and guard against a nightmare.

Auburn’s special teams, or lack thereof. Well, I just won’t say more than having Edward Scissorhands receiving and Quasimodo kicking really isn’t going to get us out of the graveyard anytime soon.

By nightfall on a Halloween in Auburn, most of us will be going home terrorized. I think Ole Miss wins this one easily….

Ole Miss 27, Auburn 7

Around the league in quick fashion.

Eastern Michigan vs. Arkansas. Eastern Michigan is winless and this one could get worse if Arkansas wasn’t playing reserves by the third. EMU 10, Arkansas 42

Tulane vs. LSU. Anyone else here might spell trouble for an LSU team coming off a big win against Auburn and looking ahead to their date with Alabama. However, Tulane is just plain bad this year. Tulane 13, LSU 34

Georgia Tech vs. Vanderbilt. Suddenly, GT is back in charge in the ACC?! GT 28, Vandy 13

Kentucky vs. Mississippi State. I think the Wildcats perfect the Cobb version of the Wildcat formation against a Bulldog team which is still living off the near win against LSU. Get over it guys, and get over it fast. UK 28, Miss. State 24

South Carolina vs. Tennessee. Spurrier has a real chance to lock down the #2 spot in the East on the road in Knoxville. UT probably played their best game of the year in a tight loss to ‘Bama. All in all, this is the day of Darth Visor: USC 17, UT 14

Florida and Georgia in the politically correct drinking bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve read and heard a lot of folks say Georgia keeps this one close. I’ve dismissed everyone one of them and say Georgia doesn’t keep this one close outside of the first quarter. THE FLORIDA 35, UGA 16

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