Friday, October 24, 2008

Auburn vs. West Virginia Wrap-Up: The lack of a killer instinct

It’s said that you learn more through adversity than you do through good times. If so, then Auburn is getting a graduate level education at the moment. However, it’s the lessons we’re learning that have me buffaloed. In its four losses this year, Auburn

-> Led at halftime (which is actually true for every game)
-> Led by double digits
-> Came out flat or came up short in the third quarter, when we had chances to keep up the pressure.
-> Showed the total inability of our coaching staff to have something prepared for the expected halftime adjustments.

In addition, in the Vandy and WVU games, we allowed late scores at the end of the half to give the other team momentum going into the locker room.

So what is up? Offensive coordinators aside, we were unable to put away teams we had down. And it points to one thing…lack of a killer instinct. Do I fault us for this? As long as I’ve followed Auburn football, I’ve seen few teams (2004 being a recent exception), where Auburn has taken a lead and then effectively gone for the jugular. It’s not our style. We’re too friggin nice!

Another problem with our style. We play not to lose. When Auburn opened this game, we opened in the “I.” It was going so well, I originally imagined titling my follow up post as “Auburn proves there is an ‘I’ in team.” However, in the second half, it seemed like Tony Franklin was calling the plays again and we came up short.

Kodi made mistakes last night. He started getting away from what seemed to work for him in the first half. However, he can’t do much when receivers drop passes. He can’t do much when the offensive line is not adjusting to defensive shifts. He can’t do much when he makes forward progress into field goal range, only to have the field goal come up short. In his defense, though, he showed brilliance and will only get better.

And speaking of field goals, what is up with Wes Byrum’s Damon Duval imitation? Both kickers made amazing kicks as freshman to win big games against Florida. (Byrum had to do his twice. Duval had to do his in a drizzling rain and a 30-mph crosswind.) Then, both kickers seemed to go in the tank.

At 4-4, it is not looking good for us. We can pass this off as more growing pains as we try to get back to a semblance of the team we love. We can hope that the next 9-10 days will prove us ample opportunity to get ready for an away game at Ole Miss and another shot at turning the season around. I just hope we find what’s ailing us soon. It’s as if we need another wake-up call, another shot of adrenaline, another opponent that brings out the best in Auburn and allows us to prove to ourselves that we are better than we’ve shown.

Where’s Florida when we need them.

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