I’m running out of ways to say that the boys are back, so I’ll just say the boys are back. This week I asked them about Auburn’s performance in the second half against Kentucky, what the final drive showed the world, and how Auburn can stop Ryan Mallett. If you have any questions, post them in the comments.
1. What do you think happened in the second half of the Kentucky game? Was it lack of focus, lack of coaching, style of coaching? What are your overall thoughts?
Bret: I think the second half is getting blown out of proportion. They had a good half and we started slow. They have several elite athletes and made sure they got the ball in their hands as much as they could. I have no doubt both sides of the ball wanted to play better in that half, but in the end both were able to do their job good enough to get a win on the road in the SEC.
It’s tough to mentally come out and really put someone away. I’m not sure this team has that kind of chemistry yet, but the more they play together and win, the better they will get at it. From what I saw, the plays were called on offense to keep putting up points. We just missed on one or two key opportunities, which is all it takes. On defense we just had trouble with their elite players, and a few laughable personal foul/pass interference calls kept their drives going.
Jeris: I think we came out flat in the third quarter. Going into halftime, I thought we were going to score 60 points. Give credit to Kentucky. They made some adjustments, but we still just came out flat. We got a little too comfortable, and that goes to show that on the road in the SEC, you have to play four quarters.
Cole: I saw base defenses and soft coverage most of the second half. They had the lead and were playing well. I’m not sure what it was other than UK making adjustments then making plays. Auburn hasn’t done much the last two weeks on defense. I expect to see that change Saturday. If not, I don’t expect them to win.
2. What do think that the final drive showed to the rest of the SEC and the nation?
Bret: I think it showed this team’s ability to refocus and get the job done when it was needed, which is pretty much the opposite of last year’s final drive against UK. No penalties and the ability to run the offense efficiently without too much confusion is something every great team has to be able to do at any given moment.
Jeris: The final drive showed the world that Cam Newton has to be one of the best players in the country, if not the best. He put the offense on his back and made some big time runs and throws. However, it did take the whole offense because the lineman did a great job and the wide receivers made some big catches.
Cole: The final drive, in my opinion, showed that this team can will their way down the field. Everyone in that stadium expected #2 to run the ball, yet they were still successful. It’s a win on the road in the SEC and that is always a big deal. The adjustments from opponents will be coming soon as well.
3. Will Auburn’s secondary be able to stop Ryan Mallett’s arm? Will the ‘bend but don’t break’ style need to go into hiding for a week?
Bret: I’m hoping we can get some hits on him early. Everyone keeps talking about the secondary, but a lot of times the defensive line and blitzing linebackers can effect a quarterback as much, if not more than the defensive backs. I do think with Mallett’s talent he might get a little impatient with the short throws and hopefully try to force a few in there that we can take advantage of.
Jeris: This is going to be a true test for us this week. Mallett is a great quarterback with very good wide receivers, so our secondary is going to have to play the game of their lives. I think it’s going our best bet for the front seven to put pressure on Mallet and get him off his mark.
Cole: I don’t think any secondary can “stop” Arkansas’s passing attack, but I do believe it will take Auburn’s best defensive effort this season to slow them down. If there are new looks, disguised coverages, and different blitzes to counter what the Razorbacks like to do, then Auburn’s chances will greatly improve. The bend but don’t break is not the concrete philosophy of the defense so I think you could see it some or not at all.