Sunday, September 27, 2009

Looking back on Auburn's 54-30 win over Ball State

Not much. Auburn was supposed to beat Ball State big. It did. That is a mark of a good team, though – beating the teams soundly that they’re supposed to beat.

Giving up 30 points to a bad Ball State team doesn’t look great, but the Auburn defense didn’t play poorly. The real tests come in the following weeks, starting with next week’s game at Tennessee.

QB Chris Todd
How’s this for a sign of the difference between this year’s offense and last year’s: Todd has nine touchdown passes in his last two games. Auburn had seven all last year. Todd tied a school record with five touchdown passes. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 287 yards. Auburn has proven in the last two games that it can beat teams through the air just as it can by running the football. That will be important in a difficult month of October.

WR Terrell Zachery scored his first touchdown and Auburn took a 14-7 lead. Auburn proceeded to jump up 30-7 and Ball State never closed to within 20 points.

The injury bug hit Auburn on Saturday, sidelining Kodi Burns and RB Onterio McCalebb. Auburn coach Gene Chizik said it’s too early to tell if they will play this week. Chizik also said that Auburn would still have Wildcat options if Burns can’t play.

Special teams remain a disaster. Here’s the rundown: one muffed punt recovered by Ball State, one fumbled punt the Tigers recovered, one failed punt that left McCalebb injured with a 30-7 lead, one delay of game penalty while the punt team tried to confuse the defense with shifts, one kickoff out of bounds, a penalty on a punt return, a few long Ball State returns. Auburn should not, and does not, feel good about its special teams going into Tennessee.

Why in the world did Auburn attempt that fake punt in the second quarter? The Tigers were up 30-7 facing a fourth-and-11 at their own 33. The game was already in hand. The offense wasn’t struggling to move the ball. Here was Chizik’s response to the question after the game: “The decision to fake the punt was we just felt like we faked one in the second game, and we just feel like we have it built into our package and we have some different things off those that we like to use. Our defense was playing really well at that point in time, so we decided to go with the fake and it didn’t work, but we will continue to fake them. That is just part of the offset we are trying to do with our punt team because we have a lot of athletes on our punt team.” I don’t have a problem with faking punts to keep opponents off-guard, the overall situation just seemed fishy.

WR Terrell Zachery – The junior recorded his first career 100-yard performance. He had touchdowns of 46 and 65 yards and has emerged as the big-play threat in Auburn’s passing game. WR Darvin Adams is Todd’s favorite target, but Zachery proved he can be an effective weapon as well.

LB Josh Bynes – Bynes had a hand in two of the biggest plays in Saturday’s game – the fumble recovery that set up the Tigers’ first score and the safety that really directed the game into blowout territory.

S Daren Bates – The true freshman led the team with seven tackles. It was the first time Bates showed the potential that teammates raved about all summer. He seemed to be around the ball a lot, had 1.5 tackles for loss including half a sack and helped force the fumble Bynes recovered. LB Craig Stevens thinks Bates is turning the corner to become a good player. “I think he’s getting more comfortable out there on the field,” Stevens said. “Coming downhill, making big hits, he’s starting to do what he’s shown us in practice. Especially going into the big games, we need him ready for that.”

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