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Auburn Was Who We Thought They Were

Ball State's Kelly Page (5) during their game with Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. (Montgomery Advertiser/Lloyd Gallman)

Ball State's Kelly Page (5) during their game with Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009. (Montgomery Advertiser/Lloyd Gallman)

To borrow a line from Dennis Green, Auburn is who we thought they were… and we thought they were a damn good football team. While part of me was hoping that Monday would bring the opportunity to talk about a shocking upset, the resurgence of Ball State football, and kicking off Stan’s campaign for governor, not having to write about a complete and thorough drubbing is a bit of a surprise as well.

For a lot of teams throughout the country, words like “positive” or “optimistic” are tough to use and not applicable following a 54-30 loss, but this team is a little different. The last two games we played at Auburn? 30-0, 63-3. Both losses. The crowd? 83,118. That’s basically 4 times the crowd at Scheumann Stadium. The opposition? Undefeated, SEC caliber, receiving votes in the Top 25. Suffice to say, this wasn’t nearly the sort of loss I had anticipated.

The Good

  • The running game for the Cardinals looked the best that it’s looked all year, and it wasn’t simply Quale. While Cory Sykes and Eric Williams were doing battle with more than a few Auburn subs, they looked good in their attempts.
  • The O-line didn’t look like the 08 Cardinals, but they looked better than the 09 Cardinals have. While Page was still sacked 3 times, I think it’s safe to say most expected the run game to be non-existent and Kelly to be pressured all night. Neither of those things happened. Said Page after the game, “The offensive line did a great job tonight. They showed people what they could be.”
  • The game plan was maybe the best I’ve seen all year. There were short passes, hooks, and passes that allowed Page to get comfortable, not make the offensive line block for too long, and the receivers to create separation.

The Not Good

  • Turnovers, again, killed this team. BSU was up 7, with the ball, in Auburn territory, and moving the ball well. A score, even a field goal, could have been the first domino that needed to fall for an upset. We ducked the first turnover monster on Fakes’ psuedo-fumble after a defensive stop. The next one, Kelly Page’s sack and fumble, we would not be so lucky. After Auburn’s score, the momentum was gone, the energy drained.
  • Tackling, or lack thereof, was just as big. I know the SEC has ridiculous speed, Auburn’s backs and receivers are shifty and quick, but the large plays given up were just as much the byproduct of craptastic tackling and over-pursuit as it was Auburn’s skill and speed.
  • Injuries, again. Brandon Carnegie is doubtful for this week’s Toledo game. He has an MRI scheduled for today, according to Parrish “Hopeful… but doubtful”. Fabulous. For a defense already stretched a bit thin, and a team decimated by injuries, this is not great news.

Overall, this is a loss, sure, but not all losses are created equal. There were 83,000 people there trying their best to make the place difficult, something that was noted by Kelly Page. “I’ve never seen 85,000 people at one time. Never heard 85,000 people yell at one time. I think we showed them what Ball State is about.” I agree, Kelly. The Auburn fans were shown that this team may not have been good enough on this night to beat Auburn, but they were not the sort of pushover that many expected.

After the game, I asked Coach Parrish about how this sort of game prepares his team going forward. I thought his answer summed up perfectly what fans needed to hear going forward about this team, this season, and what this game can do for the future: “This game was a real learning experience for them. It’s not unlike games we played before at Michigan, Nebraska, or Illinios. This is a young team. But we have a lot of good players. Lot of good young players. It took us a while to beat our first BCS school, but that day’ll come again. We gotta keep pressin’ on.”

Stan-O-Meter
(1-5 Stans, 1 being happy as a Matlock marathon
5 being like Marsh ran out of Metamucil)

stanometerstanometerstanometerstanometerstanometerhalf

4 and 1/2 Stans

It’s rare that a 24-point loss reduces the Stan-O-Meter, but frankly, with the improvement in the gameplan, the improvement on the field, and the opening of MAC play, there is reason to believe in this team and this season. Finally.

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3 Responses

  1. Prrreeetty impressive against War Eagle Saturday. I honestly was anticipating a 70-0 type of game.

    Very, very, very intriguing game at home against the Rockets this weekend. GL this week preparing.

  2. This game is going to tell us a lot.

    Progress makes it winnable.

    Regression makes me want to punch babies.

  3. COMPLETELY UNRELATED TOPIC: Can we get an Edge Rock Report on the new Pearl Jam Album?!?!?!?!

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