I think that all of the Auburn fans who saw the Homecoming game witnessed the same thing I did. We watched a team that is trying to find its identity and so far hasn’t done it.
The biggest positive for the Tigers is they won and a major reason for that is on special teams they ran three kickoffs back for 142 yards and gave the offense short fields to work with vs. San Jose State. Combine that with being plus four in takeaways and that is a recipe for success in a college football game.
I think the special teams play has been a plus even though Daniel Carlson missed a short field goal vs. San Jose State. I don’t blame the kicker for that one because the holder fumbled the ball, which threw his timing off. It just takes an instant lapse to cause the kicker to pull it.
Defensively, this team looks like it is getting the right people on the field as Coach Will Muschamp continues to tinker with the lineup. Not having linebacker Tre Williams out there hurt for the Homecoming game and we all know that Carl Lawson is missed. I think the young folks in the secondary are getting better and I was impressed with the interception by freshman cornerback Carlton Davis. You have to have a lot of awareness to make the play he did.
The Tigers are still not playing like a confident defensive team with the type of swagger you need to be successful, but you need to have success to have some swagger. This group is still having problems getting to the quarterback and there is room for improvement when it comes to reading and reacting to a particular play. There is nothing this defense group can do other than keep working to get better and reduce mistakes. With extra time to prepare for their next game there is an opportunity to play quicker and more effectively.
Offensively, the Tigers just didn’t throw it much vs. San Jose State. Ricardo Louis made a nice play on a long pass and Roc Thomas had a big play on a catch and run. Jason Smith missed a deep ball that would have been a touchdown. To me it wasn’t an easy catch, but he could have caught it because it hit in his hands.
Looking at the Homecoming contest in its entirety, it was one of those games where the Tigers were glad they won, but they didn’t leave the stadium with a lot of confidence going forward.
I think there is plenty of room for leaders to step up on the field and rally this team. They don’t look like they are having fun playing and you play football because you love the game.
They can forget about the preseason stuff. It is game to game, practice to practice to get to the point where this group can win the games it is supposed to win and some of them they aren’t supposed to win. If the chemistry can get to where it needs to be, maybe they can.
When a team is playing hard and fighting for each other that overcomes youth, lack of talent in some places and you can end up beating somebody that has more talent than you have, but if you don’t at least you can feel good about yourself if you don’t win.
That is where this team is right now. I know the coaches are going to try to figure out how to get better and I hope the players take advantage of their extra time to get ready for the Kentucky game rather than just having the mindset of getting through today.