Saturday, October 31, 2009

Auburn - Ole Miss Postgame Review

I reminisced today about my days about my days as a collegian.

It’s not that I do it every time I watch college football. It’s just that certain things remind me of certain games. For example, during the Florida – Georgia game, the trivia question asked what was Georgia’s only win against a #1 team. Apparently, it was Georgia’s 24-3 win over Florida in 1985. I remember that game. Auburn had played Florida the week before in Auburn. Auburn lost 14-10, but Florida pretty much left the Plains banged up. When they met Georgia the following week, Florida had nothing left in the tank. Still, Florida took it to Georgia physically, making Auburn’s 24-10 win in the Athens the following week not as close as the score indicated. Such is life in SEC football.

When Auburn announced they were trying to make the game against Ole Miss a “Navy Nightmare” on Halloween, I thought back to 1987. Florida visited the Plains that year. Auburn’s slogan for that game was “Nightmare in Jordan-Hare.” Auburn won that day 29-6.

So when Auburn made it 31-7 against Ole Miss today, the 1987 Florida game popped into my head. I thought we should have had it in the bag. However, jaded by both this season and last season, I knew we still needed to play it out. There was a long way to go.

And I was right. Ole Miss scored two quick TDs to make it 31-20, still in the 3rd quarter. I wondered if this was how Arkansas felt when we scored 20 quick points in the 3rd quarter to make it an 11-point game in Fayetteville. Arkansas responded by stopping Auburn the rest of the way and tacking on a couple of extra scores.

For Auburn today, we responded with a blocked PAT, running it back for a two-point conversion. It was our last score of the day, but possibly the biggest play of the game.

That conversion turned it from a 10-point game (it would have been a 10-point game if Ole Miss had made the PAT) to a 13-point game. Ole Miss went from needing a TD and field goal to essentially needing two TDs. Granted, they could have gotten a TD and two FGs, but that would mean three successful scoring drives. The reality basically negated what Ole miss could do when they got close. A FG was no longer acceptable. They had to go for the TD.

And that may have made the difference. Forced to adopt a higher-risk strategy, Ole Miss wouldn’t get any closer. If they could have only needed a FG to make it a one-score game, then they might have been able to do that and Auburn would have gotten nervous.

Granted, Auburn was nervous anyway. We’ve seen a lot over the last two seasons. Games in which Auburn couldn’t close it out.

Today, they closed the deal.

Today, they turned a corner.

Today they ended with a victory.

And took another step toward making 2008 a bad memory and helping the future look bright.

It may have been a “Navy Nightmare in Jordan-Hare” for Ole Miss, but Auburn’s three-week nightmare was over.

War Eagle and prayers for Zac Etheridge!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta

I'm about a day late on this one, as the event started yesterday. But with shows running through Sunday, I figure there's still time.

The 101 Dalmatians Musical is playing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The show will run twice a day through Sunday, with the exception of Friday. (One show only on Friday.) Tickets are $15 - $65, depending on seating and show time.

Click here for more information on this and other Cobb Energy Centre events.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Auburn vs. Ole Miss Preview: Fifty years in the Making?

Two weeks ago, Auburn did something they hadn’t done in over 40 years. We lost to Kentucky.

This week, we may do something we haven’t done in over 50 years, lose back-to-back games to Ole Miss.

The last time Auburn lost to Ole Miss twice in a row was during the Truman Administration. We dropped three straight contests in 1949, 1951, and 1952. (Yes, no game in 1950.) Those games were the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times we had played Ole Miss. At that time, Auburn had a 1-4 record against Ole Miss. Since 1952, Auburn has gone 23-5.


However, forgetting that we lost 17-7 last year to Ole Miss and have lost the last three games this season, I have to try and put it out of mind.

Honestly, though, I don’t know what to think this week. Will Auburn show up to play? Or will it look like they’re going through the motions? They started the first drive against LSU well, but flag-happy refs killed the momentum. What should they do this time around?

I think Auburn should pass.

In the first two games, Auburn ran a lot and established the ground game. By game three, though, they had to start passing the ball in order to open up the run. Consequently, opposing teams are looking for the run.

Let’s give them the pass.

I know we don’t have great receivers, but we do have some good ones. We need to start using more of them. Short passes on 1st down. Pick up 5+ yards. It opens us up on second down, where we can go for runs or short passes to pick up longer yardage. This will back up the safeties and not allow the teams to focus on stopping the run. This, in turn, will open up lanes for Ben Tate.

I know the general perception is that Auburn will make it four in a row this week. Ole Miss looked good in its win over Arkansas last week. They started out with an early lead and never looked back. Auburn needs to do the same. Short passes. Small victories. And get that score. The team took two days off to rest after the LSU game to recharge their batteries. (Speaking of rest, Auburn needs to reconsider its policy of playing 12 games straight. The players needed a break.

Auburn’s back is against the wall, but with these small victories up front, I think Auburn can stand a chance at regaining some of its momentum back.

Last year’s game vs. Ole Miss was on November 1st, after a woeful October. Let’s try to end this month the same way we started…with an SEC victory.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Desire of a Champion

This week, my older son’s baseball team will play in the championship game for the 11- 12 age group in the Mill Creek area. My son is looking forward to it. He’s never been in a Championship game before.

My son has been playing sports for a few years. Unfortunately, he inherited his Dad’s athletic ability. (I think I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears repeating in his defense.) He tries hard and occasionally does good things. In the semifinal game, he made a great play in the outfield that helped save a run. He also got an RBI. Granted, that was from being hit by a pitch when the bases were loaded. Still, like any dad, I was proud.

One of the things my son is thinking about, if his team wins, is the trophy. Both my sons have received a lot of trophies already. They’ve played on various teams, had fun, and made good friends. After the season ended, the boys got trophies at whatever shindig/get-together the team organized.

Up until recently, the favorite trophy for both of them was the one each received for finishing second in the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. They designed and built cars themselves. My older son made his car look like Bumblebee from the Transformer movie. My younger son made his look like the Mach 5 from the Speed Racer movie. They sanded, painted, and then I added weight to take the car up to the legal race limit. Why was the Pinewood Derby trophy their favorite? It’s because it represented winning. As much as each likes the trophies he has received for playing, it’s the winning that they remember.

Like I said, up until recently.

In the spring, my younger son’s team won the championship of their league. He now has a trophy he treasures above all the others, one of being a champion. Yesterday, after my son’s team won their semifinal match-up, I found out how envious my older son was of his brother’s success. “Dad, I hope we win the game. I want a championship trophy, just like my little brother has.”

As I told my wife, championships games don’t come around too often for players, whether little or big. I remember my feelings as a kid of winning and losing baseball and football championships. (I also remember never playing on a championship basketball team, though I did play on a couple of runner-up ones.) It was a special time. Winning isn’t everything, but sometimes it does carry extra weight. My kids have reminded me that, though they have fun, winning and the opportunity to be on a team and play for it all means a lot to them.

And they (my boys, that is) mean a lot to me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Auburn vs. LSU Post Mortem

I sometimes call my post game reviews a post mortem. Tonight definitely applies. Somewhere tonight, rigor mortis set in.

It’s only the third quarter as I write this, but as it’s 24-0. I’m having trouble breathing. We’ve finally gotten to a play where we have 1st and goal. And the thing that goes through my mind is how difficult it is for spreads to score on a short field. Granted, the way Auburn’s been playing, Auburn’s been having difficulty scoring period. The three and out inside the 10-yard line proved it. Oh well, we did need the field goal.

The game started out bad. Tennessee was unsuccessful in their upset bid at Tuscaloosa.

Then it got worse.

LSU defensive player enters the neutral zone on an Auburn 4th and 1 and causes the Auburn player to flinch. Auburn offsides.

Auburn defensive player enters the neutral zone and causes an LSU player to flinch. Auburn offsides.

Auburn called for several personal fouls. Auburn called for delay of game WHILE ON DEFENSE. It’s gotten so bad, the announcers see a flag and they automatically assume the call will go against Auburn.

The fact that we were down only 17-0 at the half was the amazing thing.

Still, I’m at a loss and am trying to figure out the progression on what’s happening to our football team. The logic is this.

=> Defenses are playing a base defense against us, which takes away the big play.
=> This forces our offense into more three-and-out situations.
=> This keeps our defense on the field longer (even more than would be normal for a spread-style offense).
=> Our lack of defensive depth means our players get winded even more. Consequently, they have trouble stopping teams as the game wears on.
=> So we look like we’re totally outclassed.
This means we know how Alabama felt back in 2007.

However, we also went through this last year and I didn’t want to go through it again.

I’m trying to look for something positive out of this game…out of this streak, but we’re getting beat on all sides of the football. For any of you reading this, I hope you have some suggestions. I’m, like tonight’s game, at a loss.

However, we’re still Auburn. That may not mean much on the football field at the moment. However, it does carry a lot for the experience we had while we were there.

War Eagle anyway! Always and forever!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Auburn vs. LSU Preview

A lot of news stories have made a big deal that this weekend is Auburn’s first game this season against a ranked opponent.

That’s technically true.

However, what the story fails to mention is that one of Auburn’s earlier opponents this year, a team that wasn’t ranked when Auburn played them, is ranked now. West Virginia, with a record of 5-1, is ranked in the Top 25 in all three polls. They are probably kicking themselves about losing to Auburn.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Absolutely nothing.

The point is, we can’t change the past. In my preseason predictions, I had Auburn 5-2 at this point, with losses to Arkansas and WVU. While I thought we had an outside shot of beating WVU, I never imagined losing to Kentucky. However, a senior-filled offensive line can make up for a lot of mistakes elsewhere. Auburn has experience on the O-line as well, but they’ve spent a lot of time recently jumping offsides. Still, we can’t look to the past. We can only go forward.

And that means going to Baton Rouge, a place where Auburn has won only five games. The last time was the infamous Cigar Game, when Auburn won 41-7. The last two games Auburn played there were nailbiters, in which Auburn came up on the short end. Oddly, saying Auburn’s won only five times in Baton Rouge isn’t saying much. LSU’s only won six times at Auburn.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Not much.

Despite it’s 5-2 record and two recent shanks in the fairway that is the college football season, Auburn is pretty high up on a number of charts. According to the Auburn website, Auburn is
=> 7th in the nation in rushing offense
=> 8th in total offense
=> 12th in scoring offense

So what does that have to do with anything?

Some, but it hasn’t meant much lately.

The SEC Referee Crew that blew both UGA-LSU game and Florida – Arkansas game has been suspended, at least for this weekend.

So what does that have to do with anything?

A lot, as it means they can’t botch our game.

This weekend, Auburn has a chance to erase the memories of the last two weekends in a place where they are long overdue for a victory and the coach is living on borrowed luck.
So what does that have to do with anything?

Everything!

In one of the original Star Trek episodes, the villain exchanges bodies with Captain Kirk through a mind transference device. I’m convinced something similar happened in Knoxville between Chris Todd and Jonathon Crompton sometime during the Tennessee game. In the Star Trek episode, the only way to make the transference complete was to kill one of two parties. Else, they would switch back to the way they were.

Auburn ain’t dead yet.

This weekend, the switch happens and I hope we prove it.

War Eagle!

This Weekend In Atlanta

This weekend begins Boo at the Zoo at Zoo Atlanta. The event takes place this Saturday and Sunday, the 24th and 25th, and then next Saturday, the 31st. Activities run from 10:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m. on all three days. Events include costume contests, treats booths and the Monster Mash Disco as well special birthdays for various animals at the zoo.

Also, both this Saturday and next Saturday, the Zoo features Boo at the Zoo Nightcrawlers, which includes evening activities from 6:00 p.m. - 10:30 a.m. the following day. Event include pumpkin painting, trick-or-treating, and story telling for children ages 6 and up.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unavoidably Delayed

Due to circumstances beyond my control, my post on the Auburn-LSU will be posted late. In the meantime, Charles Goldberg has written a wonderful article about how Auburn is refusing to get down on itself. Please click here to go to the article.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on the the only game each season that requires, at least for me, more than one beer to get through.

War Eagle!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Money Money Money Mo-NEY...MO-ney

With apologies to the O'Jays...

Last week, I went out with my boys for a pre-Halloween walk through the neighborhood. Or at least it felt like it, given that I had the boys get dressed up and walk door-to-door.

My boys were involved in their annual Cub Scout/Boy Scout popcorn fundraiser. Many people are unaware that the male version of the scouting world sells popcorn to raise money for their activities. I figure it’s because of the late start to the American psyche. When I was a scout as a child, the boy scouts didn't sell popcorn. (We tried yard sales among other things.) However, given the iconoclastic nature of the annual spring activities of the green-clad cookie cartel, I figure the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided, some time in my adult life, that they should try something like this, too. The BSA at least sells its popcorn in the fall, partly out of courtesy and probably knowing they’d get waxed in the spring.

The weather was misty with occasional sprinkles when we headed out. But, given that there were other activities on other nights, it was the only night they would have all week to do this. Still, they trudged on happily, arguing about who would get to ring the next door and present the pitch. Our neighbors were receptive and wonderful, with a number of them purchasing popcorn. As we have two boys and they’re selling together, we split the sales in half so that each boy reports roughly the same amount to his pack or troop.

Admittedly, though, I was a little apprehensive when the annual popcorn sale was announced. It came at the end of a whole list of fall fundraisers. We had stuff for fall baseball, Christmas items for the band, magazines for the schools, and the list goes on. All good causes. All worthy of support. Sometimes, my wife and I just ask the fundraising organizers a question, “How much do you get per item and how many are you asking each boy to sell?” This works really well with the coupon books, where the boys might be asked to sell only three and the group gets $5 of the $15 purchase. For my wife and I, it’s easier to write a check and just move on to the next one.

There are lots of kids in our neighborhood and they do come to our door, too. Hopefully, we participate as much as we ask our neighbors to do. However, many of the kids are also scouts and a number of them also play fall and spring sports. Those kids are selling the same things our kids are. (Oddly, there seem to be no girl scouts close by. Thankfully, the girl scouts set up stands at grocery stores. My wife can satisfy my craving for shortbread cookies when she goes shopping.)

I am happy that my boys get excited about these sales endeavors. As I mentioned before, I didn't sell popcorn. However, to raise money for various school groups. I sold doughnuts, pizza, magazines, and Christmas ornaments. The doughnuts were always my favorite. A dozen cost only $2 back then. The school group got $1 from the sale of each box. The Krispy Kreme truck would arrive early in the morning and you could smell the sugar all over the school. Of course, my parents always bought a box for our house. If my parents were lucky, I made it home with half a dozen at the end of the day.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a note posted on the fridge. It detailed an upcoming bake sale at my older son’s school, listing the prices of cakes, pies, etc.

“Honey, the school’s having a bake sale?” I asked my wife. “What are they raising funds for?”

“It’s just his math homework project. He has to plan a fundraiser and figure out the best way to raise $150.”

I was glad of that. I wasn’t ready for a bake sale. However, I was gratified to know the school was teaching my older son practical skills…for the day he becomes a parent.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Auburn - Kentucky Postgame (Post-mortem)

I HAVE TO SAY I’M WORRIED ABOUT THE REST OF THE SEASON.

It’s the 4th quarter as I write this and it appears we’ve brought back Tommy Tuberville-style football. Instead of winning the games we should win easily, we play to the level of our opponent and go into the 4th quarter fighting for our life. (I knew when I was in Wal-Mart today, I should have bought beer. No, I thought, it’ll be fine.)

But let’s face it.

Offensively, the first half of the Kentucky game, we gained about as much as we did against Arkansas. The only difference is that the defense allowed only 7 points.

With the third quarter, we started running the football better, but we were losing the battle of field position in a major way.

And now in the 4th quarter, we’ve allowed Kentucky to take the lead.

So, I have to ask myself., what the heck is going on? We have started every game sluggish, but we’ve been out of sorts the last two games. I think part of it has to do with the play calling at the outset. We switch up so much in the first few minutes, I don’t think Chris Todd has any chance to settle down and get into a rhythm.

That may be the reason why Auburn outgained Kentucky by only 20 yards through three quarters. If you count the penalty yards Auburn has coughed up, then Kentucky has outgained Auburn. By the 4th quarter, Kentucky had blown us out the water yardage wise.

So, with three minutes left, we have to make up 80 yards…and that’s to tie. All I can think of is that I’ve got early church tomorrow, but that I need to start praying now.

And on 4th and 11, my prayers have now not been answered.

So what do I think?

1) The referees really screwed us. They’re making up stuff it seems like. We’re 3rd and 1 and then we’re 3rd and 11. We’re trying to score earlier in the game and we get three straight 5-yard penalties.
2) Chris Todd is hurt. The way he’s playing, he must have re-injured his shoulder and no one’s saying anything.
3) Are we running out of gas?
4) Are the players getting down on themselves from last week?

We don’t have the luxury of #4. However, next week we have a rested LSU team. Auburn better find its mojo fast, or it could be brutal.

Congrats to Kentucky.

War Eagle anyway!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta

My sons and I attended two Gwinnett Braves games this year and we had a blast. (My wife took the opportunity to sleep. Hopefully, she’ll come next year.)

Now that the season is over, Gwinnett Braves stadium has been converted into the Stadium of Screams for the rest of the month. Times are 7:00 – 12:00, Thursday through Saturday, with one final night on Sunday, November 1st. There are scary attractions for those who are ready for horror with less scary attractions (Friday/Saturday only) for younger children. The scarier attractions are priced slightly higher than infield box seats at a Gwinnett Braves game, while the less scary attractions can be had for about the same as a field box level ticket. Discounts can be obtained by purchasing on-line and parking is free.

Click here to be taken to the website for further information.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Auburn vs. Kentucky Preview

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about baseball and the playoffs.

In the playoffs, they always ask the team that will be the visitor in the first two games in the series what they hope to accomplish in their first two games. Every time, the answer is the same. The players all say that they hope to go 1-1 and take home field advantage in the series. If the team loses the first game and wins the second, they’re happy or at least satisfied. However, if they win the first and lose the second, then they’re upset because they had a chance to win both games and blew it.

Had Auburn players been asked at the start of the season if they would be satisfied with 5-1 at the midpoint of the season, they would have been happy. Now, it seems like a letdown. But letdowns happen. Auburn beat Tennessee. Tennessee beats Georgia. Georgia beats Arkansas. Arkansas beats Auburn. The SEC’s version of the circle of life continues. And now that the impossibility of a perfect season this year has been eliminated, we can move on and get back to one game at a time.

So, it is focusing on one game at a time that we go home to face Kentucky. Kentucky hasn’t exactly been burning it up this year. Right now, the team’s only claim to fame is giving Tebow a concussion. He seems to have come back from it. Unfortunately, for Kentucky, their QB is now out. If this were last two years, it would worry me. For some reason, Auburn seemed to have problems with QBs they hadn’t prepped for.

With Kentucky hurt and Auburn hungry again, I think we’ll squeak by. Auburn will be favored in this game. It will be at home. It will be at night. Auburn will be licking its wounds with hopes of quick redemption (and bowl eligibility).

Auburn’s record against Kentucky is 24-5-1. We first played the Wildcats in a home-and-home season in ’34 and ’35. We split those, with Kentucky taking the first one (at Kentucky) and Auburn winning the home bill. The next meeting was in ’54, the first of 18 straight. We last lost to Kentucky in ’66 in Lexington. Auburn’s only loss to Kentucky at Auburn came in ’61 in a 14-12 heartbreaker. (The one tie game was at Auburn.)

Again, we need to move on from last week. Auburn was due for a down game. I hope this was it. I was still proud of the team. Last year’s squad wouldn’t have rattled off 20 points in the 3rd quarter and made a go of it. This team has come back a lot of adversity. They’ve trailed in every game but one, and come back in all but one. They’ve been down. They’ve been written off. And most likely they’ll be written off again. (Particularly as the Iron Bowl will be in the afternoon.) For this weekend, they will leave with a victory, a 6-1 record, and hopes of continued improvement down the road.

And speaking of the road, they have LSU next weekend. LSU has a bye this weekend and will have had two weeks for the Florida game to fester by the time Auburn travels to Baton Rouge. LSU will be pumped and ready to take out their frustration on our beloved Tigers.

Coming next week, why LSU is always fun.

War Eagle!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Taste of Things to Come

We recently entertained friends from Japan. Among the gifts they brought us was some very high-quality eel. For those of you who haven’t had eel, it doesn’t taste like chicken. However, it is delicious and, for me, one of the wonderful things I picked up during my four years in Japan. (A good friend of mine refers to wife as the best thing that happened to me in Japan. Agreed, but that’s another story.)

Now, because my boys have a Japanese mother, they have acquired tastes for a number of Japanese foods, including all the basic noodles and fried items (though the latter may also be partly due to their southern heritage). They also like some Japanese sweets. My older son is particularly fond of shrimp chips and will do anything for spicy rice crackers. He’d take them as snacks to school, if we’d let him. However, given how cruel kids can be to other kids who are different, we don’t let him take these snacks to school. My wife often finds the cracker bag empty and yells out, “Who ate all of these?” It’s one of the few times she’s not looking at me for an answer.

On the more grown-up Japanese items, my kids aren’t there yet. Eel is something of a grown-up taste, at least in my opinion. Sushi is the same. And as both are expensive items, my wife and I were content when our sons hadn’t acquired a taste for these items.

Then, there was our trip to Japan in the summer of 2008. While there, we visited the northern island of Hokkaido and went to Otaru, a wonderful little city on the sea of Japan. (Click here for my post on Otaru.) One of the things my wife wanted was good (re: expensive) sushi. We found a good restaurant and my wife eyed the menu greedily, ordering various items. Then my younger son asked to try it.

What a wonderful time for my younger son to instantly acquire a taste for sushi. Now back in the U.S., he often asks to go out for it. We indulge him when we can.

So, with the eel in front of me, I look at younger son and say, “Do you want to try some?”

My wife looks at me, horrified. “I don’t want him to acquire a taste for eel yet. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll waste it.” Still, I break off a little piece and offer it to him. His upturned nose tells me the answer.

Despite his distaste, he chews the tiny piece down anyway. My wife then notes, “you forgot to add the sauce.” I add it to my eel and give him another little taste. Same reaction.

“That was eel?” he asks. “It tastes like fish, not chicken.”

No kidding.

I do hope my son will someday love eel as much as I do. However, on those days where friends and family bring us eel as a gift, I’m happy not to have to share it yet.

And I will not serve Kobe beef at the house, at least until after the kids go away to college.

Note to Readers: My wife thinks I should put the this weekend in Atlanta recommendations on Thursday instead of Friday. Will try the switch.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Auburn vs. Arkansas Postgame Wrap-Up

I’m posting early today. The best thing I can say about today so far is that I haven’t had any alcohol yet. That may change. Trying to talk my wife into opening the bottle of wine we have chilling in the fridge. So far, she’s not convinced. Also, we’re out of beer.

I had a bad feeling when I decided to wear the shirt I hadn’t worn all season. I knew I shouldn’t the minute I put it on, but I thought that was crazy.

Granted, I also had a bad feeling when former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said in public that Auburn would beat Arkansas by three TDs, handing Arkansas serious bulletin board material. (Doesn’t that buy-out include a gag order of some kind concerning talking in public about Auburn.)

Then, on the first two drives, I watched Auburn sputter on a 3-and-out (as I asked myself what was Kodi doing in there on second down). Arkansas countered by driving the ball down the field, including converting twice on third-and-long. What bothered me most was that we couldn’t get any pressure on Mallet in that first drive. After that, I knew the game had the potential to be long.

And so Auburn drops it’s first game of the season. Sportswriter Ray Melick will crow on Sunday about how he saw it coming. My response to Ray…if you say before every game that Auburn’s going to lose, you will eventually be correct.

The stats tell all.
1) We had the ball less than 20 minutes and ran only 67 plays. Last week we had the ball more than half the game and ran over 80 plays.
2) We gained less than 400 yards total, which is jack squat considering that we were playing the worst defense in the SEC (supposedly).
3) We can’t convert on 4th and inches because our QB isn’t used to having the ball snapped to him.
4) We take our opening drive of the 3rd quarter and fumble on the other team’s 3-yard line, providing valuable momentum and deflating ourselves in the process.

Do we have anything positive to take back with us? I take some heart in that we tried to make it respectable. (Pollsters don’t watch games anyway, so they’ll only look at the final score. Still it was pretty bad.)

I take some heart that we’ll likely have night games, at least until Georgia. And since that game will technically start in the afternoon (whereas this one started at 11:00 a.m.), we might be awake for it. Day games can both be great and suck for the same reason. You’re stuck watching the highlights all day. Given that Auburn is a Top 25 team as of this week, this is guaranteed. Given how badly Auburn has sucked recently when they had to get up early, this also seemed guaranteed.

A friend of mine who happens to be a UT grad is celebrating her team’s victory over Georgia. Georgia beat Arkansas. Arkansas beat us. We beat Tennessee. This means the circle of SEC life continues.

Auburn will return home to fight next week against Kentucky. I think the boys will return and play well. (Like I mentioned earlier, the game is at night.)

I also believe that this team is exactly that…a team. They play hard. They win and lose together. There’s no sniping. No backbiting. Just team.

And a class team it is.

War Eagle anyway!

Friday, October 9, 2009

This Weekend In Atlanta

Tomorrow, from 10:00 - 4:00 at Mercer University's Atlanta Campus, is the sixth annual Atlanta Parent Family Block Party. It's an opportunity get out and play all day with more than 50 kid-friendly activities, entertainment, storytelling, informational booths and more! It's a way to spend a beautiful fall day with family (and then spend the evening watching college football
:-) ).

A Georgia Tech Fan in Auburn Country

New York Times bestselling author Haywood Smith has released her latest book, Ladies of the Lake. Haywood is best known for such contemporary books as The Red Hat Club and Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch. However, the author has also written a number of award-winning historicals.
When asked about the effect college football has had on her life, Haywood responded:

When I was a girl in Atlanta during the fifties, my family of seven rooted for GA Tech, and the family of seven across the street were rabid Auburn fans. Whenever the teams played, the loser had to take the winners to dinner at the Varsity (a big splurge back then.) I still remember watching the games together. It got really tense sometimes (one WAR EAGLE too many), but we always enjoyed the rivalry.

A blurb on her latest book is below. For more information on Haywood and her books, click here.

LADIES OF THE LAKE recounts the adventures of four middle-aged sisters who must spend the entire summer with just each other, completely out of the contexts by which women define ourselves, at the beloved lake of their childhood summers in order to inherit and sell the valuable acreage. Before long, old alliances—and old rivalries—surface. But the sisters get far more than they bargained for, including love in a most unexpected package for one, and two mummified dead bodies—one in a WWI doughboy’s uniform—walled up in the root cellar in great-granddaddy’s masterpiece hand-carved chairs!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Auburn vs. Arkansas Preview

Auburn vs. Arkansas Preview

Does anyone remember what happened last year in the week leading up to last year’s game vs. Arkansas?

If you said Tony Franklin was fired, you were right. I was wondering who might call the plays that weekend. Given that we were looking at the return of Nallsminger, I jokingly speculated that we should find out if Borges was still in town. It turned out to be the most embarrassing half of a season in Auburn history.

Auburn, surprisingly took an early lead and looked like that might win the game. However, Auburn shot itself in the foot so often in the second half, it gave the game away. I blame the poor coaching. However, I just wonder if the defense hadn’t worn itself out. They’d kept us in so many games, but they had nothing left to give.

What a difference a year makes.

This time, Auburn is a 5-0 team and nationally ranked as it faces a 2-2 Arkansas squad that has wins against Texas A&M and Missouri State and losses against Georgia and Alabama. The Georgia game, played at Arkansas, was a high scoring affair and could have gone either way.

And that’s what worries me.

Yes, I know, I’m always worried, but I have history on my side in this argument. Forget the years where Auburn hasn’t had a good team when it faced Arkansas. Most of the time we do fine.

It’s when we seem to be having good years that a game with Arkansas trips us up. In 2006, a 5-0 Auburn team faced Arkansas at home and lost 27-10, blowing our shot at an SEC title. The same happened in 2002 when we lost at home 38-17 and also the previous year 42-17 (though we had a late season slide that ruined us there as well, including that final game against LSU when Damon Duval got into it with the LSU band).

So, I’m justifiably nervous as we head into this weekend. We have a morning game this weekend, and mornings haven’t been kind to us of late. I’m hopeful that a change in coaching staff can get this team playing before its coffee kicks in. (Coach Taylor, I’m depending on you.)

Expect Ryan Mallet to light us up a few times on defense, but I hope Todd gives them even more.

War Eagle!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When Benchmark Meets The Bench Player

Several times during the school year, my sons have a battery of tests that seem to last a week. The big one is the CRCTs and we sweat those out for a while. Other tests include COGAT, ITBS, and a lot of other acronyms I’ve either forgotten of mixed up.

This week, my older son has Benchmark tests. Benchmark tests to review what kids have learned so far this particular school year. It doesn’t have a big effect on your grade. However, like losing baseball games in April, it will still count you at the end of the season. For the benchmark, it’s as if the teachers are being judged to see how well they are doing.

Because school and tests take center stage among all kid activities, we sometimes find ourselves making decisions on our kids’ evenings. With benchmarks requiring nightly study in all subjects., we told my oldest that he would have to miss his Monday night at Boy Scouts. Scouts is a wonderful endeavor and my son enjoys it. It teaches kids such skills as how to work together as a team to accomplish goals. Still, Scouts is something of an individual endeavor. If my son isn’t ready for his tests, he can’t go to Scouts.

It’s the same way with sports. We’ve had scenarios where one of our kids has had a big test is the day after a practice. On that day (and days before), we’ve made them study hard. We check their comprehension before practice. If they know it, they can go. If they don’t, then they can’t.

Games are a different matter. If you keep a kid away from game, you bring up the possibility that the game could be a forfeit. Kids get sick. Nothing you can do, but there aren’t a lot of extra kids on each team. My older son’s team has one extra player. If two kids are missing, they only have eight kids. They can play with that many, but you’re trying to cover an outfield with two kids. Not easy.

So what should we do? School is still the most important thing. Commitment is also important. So, we pray we make the right decision. We pray that our son studies early and often.

And like the fans of the Boston Braves during the last 40s when Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain took the mound, we pray for rain.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Auburn - Tennessee Postgame

When Gene Chizik and Lane Kiffin shook hands on the field after the game, I doubt that they were thinking about all of the pre-game BS about when they last faced each other.
They were focused on the game at hand. I’m convinced the fans were the same way. No one but the media cared about the story the media was trying to manufacture.

So, focusing on the game at hand…

There were times tonight when I was nervous.
1) We’ve had to come behind in each game and then establish ourselves. Not that it’s a bad thing to lead from start to finish, but still I thought about it.
2) When Wes Byrum missed the field goal toward the end of the first half and Tennessee drove down the field to get a TD, I worried that we might have given them momentum. It just had too much in the “shades of last year” department.
3) As we seemed unable to stop them on 4th down and Crompton seemed to be hitting his receivers, I began to worry. When Auburn held UT to a field goal to make it a 7-point game in the 4th quarter, I finally thought we had it.

So where does this leave us.

Auburn will gain a little respect for beating UT on the road. However, the garbage TD at the end will hurt. In 2004, both UGA and Alabama scored garbage TDs at the end of the game, hurting Auburn as pollsters often only look at the final score and not the game itself. (Granted, I may be living in a fantasy world there. Last week, the pollsters had Penn State ahead of Iowa and Cal ahead of Oregon.)

Any respect will be short-lived. Next week, Auburn travels to Arkansas, a place where we’ve always had trouble. In my preseason predictions, I mentioned I thought Auburn would lose this game. Now, I’m not so sure. It could be a test of both will and nerve.

Auburn may finally crack the Top 25. Cal and Michigan should drop out. Maybe even Houston, though I expect they will stay in. For now, let’s just enjoy the game, the road victory, and the knowledge that all we can do is win the games on our schedule.

War Eagle!

Haven’t seen a time frame for next week’s game. Hope it might be earlier. These late night postings wear me out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

This Weekend in Atlanta

This weekend is the annual Moonlight & Magnolias conference, the annual conference of Georgia Romance Writers. It is one of the largest conferences of its kind, bringing together writers from all over North America. Though most events are closed to non-attendees, two events are open to the general public: a speech by NY Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon, followed by a book fair and autograph signing.

Kenyon's speech takes place at 3:00 p.m. The book fair follows the speech and lasts from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. The signing features many bestselling authors. Click here for a complete list.

Georgia Fan Confesses She Once Preferred Pro Football

New York Times bestselling author Dianna Love is back in her second joint project with fellow New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon. The ladies tell the story of the brave officers at the Bureau of American Defense (aka BAD) in their latest novel, Whispered Lies.

Dianna, who is as great a painter as she is a writer, has many fond memories of her favorite college team, the Georgia Bulldogs. When asked about it, she commented:

I was a major fan of pro football for many years until I met my husband who was a Georgia Bulldog fan. He introduced me to college football and we kept season tickets for many years. I was hooked after sitting in Stanford Stadium the first time and watching a live game. The enthusiasm was a living thing compared to some fairly austere pro games.

A blurb of the book is below. For more information on Dianna's books and to read an excerpt, click here.


Upon receiving a tip on American’s most dangerous enemy – the Fratelli de il Sovrano – BAD agent Carlos Delgado races the clock to uncover a deadly plan that threatens economic chaos in the US just days before the presidential elections. Capturing the infamous electronic snitch known as MIRAGE – Gabrielle Saxe – in a Black Ops net is key to stopping the attack. Gabrielle will gamble her freedom to protect the ones she loves before BAD hands her over to INTERPOL…if she doesn’t escape first.