As we enter the season of thanks, I’d like to pause for a second and say I’m thankful that Zac Etheridge is out of the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. Though he is out for the season and will be in a harness for the next four months, he talks optimistically about playing next season. As much as Auburn could use his leadership next season, I hope he calls it for a career. What happens off the field is much more important than what happens on it. Thanks also to Ole Miss RB Rodney Scott who was under Etheridge and didn’t move until Etheridge was take care of. He, as much as the doctors, is responsible for Etheridge not being in the hospital right now.
On to this week’s opponent…the Furman Paladins. Though Paladins are not specifically knights, they are often identified as knights. A roommate of mine in grad school graduated from Furman. He use to refer to the school as the Purple Paladins. If my old roommate still follows Furman football, he’s probably scratching his head as to what his team is going to do this weekend.
When you looked at Auburn’s schedule at the start of the year, among the feelings you got in your gut was knowing automatically who the Homecoming opponent was. Furman knew it, too, going back to when the contract was inked. Let’s face it. Auburn pays well. (After the incident in 2004, when their only decent non-conference opponent was stolen by Oklahoma, they upped the ante.)
But what do you say about Furman? What do you say about a team that Auburn faced once in the 40s and twice in the 50s, compiling a 3-0 record while allowing six points and blanking Furman twice. We probably shouldn’t be facing them now?
Do you say…Thanks for coming. Here’s your check.
Do you say…Thank you for allowing us to rest our starters before our final two games of the season.
Do you say…all the right things pre-game, though you know you’re scheming for Georgia.
What you should say is let’s play the game.
A lot will be made this week by Alabama fans about Auburn having scheduled Furman, now 4-4 after dropping its last game to App State. Auburn fans will point out that Furman pummeled Chattanooga by a score of 38-20 and that Alabama plays Chattanooga the week before they play Auburn. It doesn’t matter. It’s time to play a game.
It doesn’t mean that the team can’t relax that Furman is coming. Auburn has to remain vigilant. We have thin depth and we just lost a starter on defense. If we play sloppy, we will still win the game. However, sloppy play leads to injuries and we can’t afford that.
While the victory over Ole Miss showed the team’s resiliency, the injury to Etheridge showed us how fragile this group is. And when they got tired in the three weeks prior, they had nothing to sustain them.
This is the second straight year Jay Jacobs has scheduled 12 straight games with an off week before Alabama. It’s as asinine as not opening next year in the Chick-Fil-A kick-off with UCLA. I don’t know what Jay Jacobs is doing, but then neither does anyone else.
However, what I do know, is that I love my Auburn Tigers and will be supporting them all the way.
No matter how asinine anything gets.