As a former Auburn featured columnist on BR, I knew after watching Auburn beat South Carolina it was time...time for Alabama Voodoo to make a return to my "old stomping grounds."
Greetings to all my friends, family, and especially my fans—it’s good to be back, y'all.
And to my critics, enemies, old girlfriends, and my illegitimate cousins...I’m back!
Today across the South, headlines read, “Cam Newton leads Auburn to Victory, or the Cam Show Can!” I get it—the Cam Newton Kool-Aid is grape; it's ice cold and refreshing too.
Trust me, I've been chugging it since he dazzled the entire Auburn nation during the season opener. This young man has played in four games, and his stat comparison to any Auburn QB is not even close.
However, I’m here to talk about the other key to the season...the defense.
Now to the task at hand: The past two games the Auburn defense has given up some big chunks of total yardage to the best that the state of South Carolina had to offer, but clearly it wasn’t enough. Auburn Tigers = South Carolina state champions 2010. One goal, two more to go.
I’m not here to talk about boring stats and facts that make articles viable. I’m back on BR because I noticed some things in Auburn’s defense I haven’t seen in recent Auburn seasons.
Simple things to pick up like team speed, fewer missed tackles, a steady defensive line surge, forced fumbles, and two interceptions last night in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
A great philosophy on “D” is kill the other team's QB and they won’t beat you. I'm sure after Mike McNeal hit Clemson QB Kyle Parker, he thought his spleen was going to fall out.
The look on his face proved his toughness, but also the infliction of pain it caused. That hit, although unintentional, literally changed the outcome of the game.
The look on Stephen Garcia’s face, the starting QB for South Carolina, after he stupidly dove face first into the ground and oncoming tackle of Darren Bates was priceless.
The posture of his neck looked permanently disfigured, and his decision-making process floundered from that moment.
That resulted in him being "yanked" from the game Steve Spurrier style for freshman sensation Connor Shaw. The outcome was a dismal 4-of-8 with two interceptions. Subsequently he was baptized by fire...Jordan-Hare style.
The philosophy is becoming a trend: a cohesive, tough, and physical unit that improves week to week. The aggressive style of play and recent takeaway spike is helping the public image of defensive coordinator Ted Roof. His unit has “swagger,” as Drew Brees so eloquently described himself during a recent 60 Minutes interview—competitive and confident.
Now, we see the years of experience and hard work paying off more than ever in our defense’s leader, senior middle linebacker Josh Bynes. His nickname should be C2 because he has Command and Control of the situation on the field from his linebacker position. He knows everyone’s job, placement, and task to lead them as an extra coach on the field. His leadership and consistency are key to the team's ultimate goal: an SEC Championship.
It’s been said that defense wins championships and games are won and lost in the trenches. In Auburn’s “No Man’s Land” there is new depth and fire-breathers getting hot on the opposing team's quarterback regularly (refer to Garcia or Parker).
With junior defensive tackle Nick Fairly in his breakout season, there's opportunity for everyone else to make plays because the "big man" is a disruptive force. The caveat to that is, Fairly happens to lead his team in sacks, interceptions, and tackles for loss.
Defensive end Antoine Carter is going around, through, and over tackles with reckless abandon, forcing opposing quarterbacks into making bad decisions. With a bevy of young players like freshman Corey Lemonier producing as backups, the rotation went from question mark to strength on the road in Starkville, MS.
Key players and that Auburn attitude of “FAMILY” are exactly what it takes to get to the top. Will this be the season? At 4-0 and the remainder of the SEC gauntlet still to play, it’s too early to tell.
However, those immeasurable attributes you can’t quantify, not recorded in a stat book, are what championship teams have. You see it, and you know they've got it when they play; they play together and for one another.
They point the finger at themselves and defend a teammate and fight until the end.
Auburn’s got "IT."
Don't take my word for it, that's fine, but it's as clear as day when you see them play. NEXT!