Posted: 9:00 a.m. Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
I didn't watch a lot of Auburn 62, Western Carolina 3.
Well, let me back up and clarify. None. I watched none of it. I helped lead the social media campaign for the inaugural Cask & Drum festival in Birmingham, and I was much more interested in living the VIP life with Dwight Yoakam, Kopecky Family Band, Shovels & Rope, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and more. Sorry. It was a lot of fun, and Auburn was playing against a really, really terrible football team.
Do I wish I could have taken more of Jeremy Johnson's first start in? Yes. I love Johnson. I have been a big fan of Johnson since he came to Auburn. I championed him in the preseason. But Tucker Tuberville could have started against Western Carolina and gotten the same results.
So in my abbreviated TAKES for this week, I'll start there: While getting excited is fun, and things look hopeful, let's harness expectations.
I think that Auburn can beat Texas A&M.; While I want to make sure we're not getting ahead of ourselves, I truly believe in my heart of hearts, in my gut, that Auburn can beat Texas A&M.; Even as a 12-point underdog on the road. The Aggie defense is suspect, and Auburn's is overlooked. Further, I don't think that Johnson's start on Saturday was as much about "Nick Marshall is more hurt than we realize" as it was "Guess what? We have a chance to be better than 'pretty good' this year, and Johnson can give us an opportunity to win one or two more games."
I don't believe, and it's my instinct and nothing more, that Nick Marshall is hurt badly enough that he would have been unavailable next week. Per coaches, he was available this week in an emergency situation. If Nick Marshall was only "kind of" hurt, you could have escaped that game with Johnathan Wallace or Tucker Tuberville.
It ain't about that, though. I believe that Gus thinks that Johnson's more accurate arm, likely the most accurate on the team, can prove the difference in a game like Texas A&M; or Georgia. Or both.
BUT. If this becomes a two-quarterback system, and I genuinely think Malzahn knows how to execute that free of controversy, the problem is finding a way to hide the fact that Johnson's arrival in the game means pass and Marshall's means run. I know Gus can do that, but that's the flaw I find in the way this is going.
So that's my take. Auburn goes into it's seventh game of 2013, the mid-point of October, the second half of the season playing with house money. It is ranked 24th in the AP poll, it is a 12-point underdog to a team no one has ever thought it had any business beating, and I truly believe that it can. My hunch is that if it happens, it will also look a lot more like 2010 (2011) Auburn vs. Oregon than 2010 Auburn vs. Arkansas, as people want to believe. In my experience, when people believe it will be a track meet, it never is.
This week has the potential to be a memorable one in the history of Auburn football. If it's not? It was exactly what we expected. No harm, no foul. War Damn.