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Where dreams go to die

November 17, 2009

It is Tuesday. The Tuesday after Auburn’s road loss in Sanford Stadium to the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Much of what is worth reading statistically is summed up in Jerry’s Assorted Observations over at TWER as well as this brief gem by unheralded numerologist, Jay Tate.

Demond Washington blew up the record books, was too gassed to finish the game and then won the conference player of the week award on special teams. Not to be outdone, and perhaps most painful for our readers, Ealey racked up his own career high and award at our expense.

The sting of losing to the Bulldogs tempted me to give major shout-outs to the Georgia fan base and family for such a wonderful, hospitable welcome. I was similarly tempted to blast our own fans for embarrassing Josephine and I most of the evening – especially after the game. But with it being Tuesday after all, the subject of Athens and their fanbase was more admirably described over at Track ‘Em Tigers with, “Not Your Daddy’s Trip to Sanford.” All I can say is Athens is far and away Joe Auburn’s favorite away game and rivalry. This marked somewhere around visit number six, and even with the loss(es), I’ll continue to make the trip and spend my orange and blue dollars on Broad Street and beyond. To our Georgia hosts and friends, we’re now Meyer’s Quad converts!

And now the sad part of this tale….

To loosely paraphrase Ben Tate, all of us would have bet all the theoritical money in our bank accounts Auburn would win this game. By almost all measures aside from the scoreboard, we should have won this game. In fact, for the first 1.25 quarters Saturday night, we did win this game. Georgia was flat footed on defense, predictable and unimaginative on offense and playing from deep in their end of the field for much of the first half. 14 points in 1 quarter, and 3 more on offense over the next 3. Gus, I know better days are ahead for all of us, but man would it kill you to stop trying to outsmart and outcute ourselves on 3rd and short or just after we cross mid-field?

I commend Ben for wearing the number 4 jersey. I think it absolutely was the right thing and a noble gesture. I also think it got in Ben’s head just a bit, and his desire to have a huge night for his friend caused him to stop having fun and overplay. What I saw was the Ben of yesteryear: missed holes, impatient for blockers on the outside and just trying to make too much happen instead of cutting upfield and taking what you can get. Ben, I was a fan when most bloggers wanted you to go back to a basketball state. Every member of my family had 44 jerseys three years ago. We even got crazy and had shirts made last year that read: Two thousand Tate: the year of Ben. So, please, please find your # 44 jersey between now and ‘Bama?

Our offensive line reminded me a lot of my short game in golf. You know, I’ll get my driver grooved, my irons sweet and I just won’t be able to putt to save my life. Saturday night, we had the passing game clicking, the kicking game showed up in week 11 in a big way, the defense was solid early and we couldn’t block down the line or late to save our lives. Even our receivers got in on the action, allowing UGA defenders to force our outside runs to slow down long enough for run support from all over the Georgia side of the field.

Defensively, well….31 points and the aforementioned Jay Tate article kind of sum it all up. We have what we have and it isn’t going to get better before next Friday. Early, the succession of three and outs was a welcome sight, and had our offense continued to click, it could have been just enough.

I’d apologize to our special teams right now for being your biggest critic all year, but listen, one game does not make a trend.

Realistically, our dreams of a bigger, better and brighter bowl died in Athens Saturday night. So too, did the hopes of a class of Auburn football players who are the first to lose four in a row to Georgia since before mine and Josephine’s collective ages. What else was buried between the hedges is yet to be seen. I’m dreaming of a Florida like upset of ‘Bama. I think you should too.

Dream on and War Eagle – BEAT BAMA!

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