Saturday, September 5, 2009

Auburn 37, Louisiana Tech 13

We'll have plenty of time for more analysis tomorrow, but here's the start to my story appearing in tomorrow's Anniston Star:

The unpopular head-coaching hire and the quarterback Auburn cast aside midway through last season teamed together Saturday night for a season opening win.

Yet it was a true freshman that stole the show during the Tigers’ 37-13 victory over Louisiana Tech at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Chris Todd threw for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His effort helped Gene Chizik win his first game as Auburn’s head coach and break his personal 10-game losing streak.

Tailback Onterio McCalebb upstaged them both by rushing for 148 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

In doing so, McCalebb became the first Auburn freshman to rush for 100 yards in his debut since Bo Jackson accomplished the feat in 1982.

For more, read tomorrow's Anniston Star.

Here's a look at my sidebar as well:

Terrell Zachery toiled away for his first three seasons as an Auburn reserve, wondering when he would get his chance.

It got to the point where Zachery contemplated transferring away from the program last season. He ultimately stayed when a new coaching staff offered him a fresh start.

Saturday night, the junior made the most of it, helping lead the Tigers to a 37-13 win over Louisiana Tech at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

On one play, Zachery showed the explosive play-making ability that made him The Star’s Player of the Year in 2005, when he was a record-setting senior at Wadley.

That play, a 93-yard touchdown reception, set a record for the longest play in program history. It also essentially iced the game for the Tigers in coach Gene Chizik’s debut.

You can read more of that in tomorrow's Anniston Star as well.

As for my immediate thoughts:

  • First of all, Auburn was impressive tonight -- especially in the second half. I thought this would be a close contest all the way through. Instead, the Tigers dominated after halftime. Let's not say this team is headed for greatness yet. Instead, let's wait for a few SEC games to be played. This was, however, about as perfect a debut as Auburn fans could have hoped for from Chizik.
  • How about Auburn's newcomers? Not only McCalebb, but DT Nick Fairley and FS Daren Bates as well. The latter two combined for Auburn's only takeaways.
  • QB Chris Todd looked good. Not only can he make the throws, but he can manage the game for Gus Malzahn.
  • The Wildcat works. Not only does is utilize the speed and athleticism of Kodi Burns, it also puts McCalebb in a position to make plays with his quickness. I think this will be a nice way to keep defenses off balance.
  • Malzahn wasn't kidding about his offensive pace. The Tigers were moving the ball quickly. It was hard to keep track of the plays and which players were checking in because the offense moved so quickly.
  • The defense didn't play great in terms of avoiding penalties, but it flew to the ball very well. Auburn did a great job slowing down a good rushing attack.
More tomorrow.

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