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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Final: Auburn 26, Tennessee 22

Wild night here in Knoxville. Here's how tomorrow's game story starts:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Despite getting through September unblemished, Auburn left many top 25 voters wondering just how good it really is, a fact made apparent by the Tigers' absence in both of the national polls last week.

They answered a few of those questions in a sound 26-22 victory against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night — yes, they can win with more than just offense, and yes, they can win on the road.

Wes Byrum kicked four field goals and Auburn turned in a stingy defensive effort for three quarters to run its record to 5-0 for the third time in the last six years.

"There are not going to be any easy ones in the SEC," Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. "All of our SEC games are going to be tough. We have to be well-prepared and be prepared to win them in different ways. Tonight we found a different way to win the game."

The victory could bump Auburn (2-0 SEC) into the top 25 polls for the first time since Oct. 6 of last year and might foreshadow a season that would far exceed any reasonable expectations coming into Chizik's first year as head coach. The last two times Auburn started 5-0 — 2004 and 2006 — it won at least 11 games and made an appearance in a January bowl game.
Here are my stories for Sunday:

Game story: Tigers make case for Top 25
Notebook: Eddins notches first career start
Gameline: A closer look at Auburn's win against Tennessee

It's been a late night, so I'll make the extra notes quick:
  • That's five straight wins for Auburn in the series, its longest winning streak ever against the Volunteers. The previous longest streak for Auburn was four games from 1961-64.
  • Although the final score doesn't look like it, Auburn turned in a pretty good defensive effort. The Tigers held the Vols to six points and 207 yards through three quarters.
  • Tennessee was 4-for-17 on third downs (an Achilles' heel for the Tigers). And the Vols made things look a lot closer with a 79-yard garbage time drive that resulted in a touchdown pass at the final gun.
  • That said, Jonathan Crompton is a pretty bad quarterback. He was 20-for-43 on the night for 259 yards but looked clueless in the first half. He fired passes high, low, wide, everywhere. He even plunked one off his receiver's helmet before he looked back for the ball. Don't get me wrong: Vols receivers didn't help him out with a number of drops, but Lane Kiffin is showing a lot of faith (or his apparent lack of depth at quarterback) by sticking with Crompton.
  • Auburn had a solid offensive effort, finishing with 459 yards. But the Tigers found it tough to punch it into the end zone. Byrum finished with four field goals, three of which coming after Auburn stalled inside the Vols' red zone.
  • Quarterback Chris Todd was 19-for-32 for 218 yards and a touchdown. He completed passes to eight different receivers.
  • Auburn ran for 224 yards, which isn't too shabby against a solid Tennessee defense. Ben Tate had 128 yards and a score. Onterio McCalebb added 51 yards.
  • You can't underestimate the importance of McCalebb's 52-yard kickoff return after Tennessee had cut Auburn's lead to 23-16 late. He got the ball to the Vols' 39 and allowed the Tigers to bleed the clock before Byrum's 22-yard field goal effectively ended the game. "That kickoff return in the last five minutes was huge," Chizik said. "For us to be able to continue down and eat some clock and then the field goal for Wes to ice the game was absolutely huge We are finding different ways to win."
  • For once, Auburn won the time of possession battle. The Tigers had the ball for 34:46. The Vols only had it for 25:14. I'm sure the Auburn defense appreciated not being on the field for as long as it has been this year.
  • In case you're wondering, Auburn has scored 207 points this year. It scored 208 all of last season.
  • The Tigers also continued their streak of scoring in every quarter this season. That's 20 in a row so far.
  • Your defensive leaders:
  • LB Craig Stevens: 11 tackles, 1 TFl, 2 QBH
  • LB Josh Bynes: 9 tackles, 1 FR, 1 QBH
  • S Daren Bates: 7 tackles
  • CB Neiko Thorpe: 7 tackles
  • S Zac Etheridge: 6 tackles
  • Surprisingly, Auburn didn't have a sack. It did have five quarterback hurries, though.
  • Because of how late the game ended, I didn't have a chance to go down for quotes afterward. But here's a good quote from Chizik provided by Auburn sports information afterward: "We have had a lot of adversity, but we are finding different ways to win as a team. That's the good thing about it. Guys going up and down the bench with the defense thanking the offense and the offense thanking the defense and thanking the special teams because everybody is finding different ways to contribute."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

No matter what anybody says, we (Auburn) should enjoy this victory just like any other. Tomorrow we move on to the Arkansas game plan.

Positives:

1. WE WON!!! WDE!!!
2. Only 3 penalties for 35 yards
3. No turnovers
4. Tate had 25 carries for 128 yards and a TD (avg 5.1 per carry)
5. Todd was 19 of 32 for 218 yards 1 TD and NO Int's
6. We have still scored in every quarter this season
7. We racked up 459 yards and 26 points on one of the best defenses in the country!
8. We didn't fumble any punt returns!
9. Held Hardesty to 90 yards rushing.
10. We goose egged UT in the 1st and 3rd quarters.
11. We caused and recovered a turnover.
12. Wes Byrum made a career high 4 fg's!
13. McCalebb looked amazing on kick returns!
14. Tate lit up Eric Berry and kept on running
15. Held UT to 206 yards and 6 points through 3 quarters.
16. We did all of this in a very noisy stadium with over 100, 000 rowdy Vol fans!!!

So... any of you haters out there can say whatever you want about my Tigers, but we are still 5-0, and taking it 1 game at a time!!! WDE!!!!

Basketball Team said...

I agree, although I'm a little dissapointed thar we didn't convert a lot of opportunities into TD's instead of stalling out for FG's. I understand that UT's got an outstanding D but honestly, we'd move the ball & then just flame out when it's on UT's side of the field. Again I'm more than happy with the win I just thought offendivelyvwe coulda put up more than we did.

Another thing is I know we were loading up on the run, but if UT had either a competent QB or WR's, we mighta had a tough time they were getting underneath routes all night either Crompton would make a bad pass, or WR's would drop, but I guess CGC knew it would go that way so good game plan. Hopefully we can shut down that ARK O this week or at least get timely stops.