War Eagle Extra has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 4 seconds. If not, visit
http://www.wareagleextra.com
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Final: Alabama 26, Auburn 21

Here's how the best game I've seen this year starts:
AUBURN, Ala. — With 37 yards and five points to make up in one final second, Auburn's offense reached back into its bag of tricks, hoping it could find one more big play to pull off the shocker of the season against No. 2 Alabama on Friday.

It came away empty-handed.

Chris Todd's Hail Mary fell short, knocked harmlessly to the ground by a host of Alabama defenders as the Crimson Tide staved off its latest upset bid with a 26-21 victory before a sellout crowd of 87,451 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"We didn't play our best football and we need to learn from that," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "But at the same time I don't think you can say enough about the competitive character that this team showed today."
OK, here are a few more notes from the post-game ...
  • Nobody was saying the exact words, but you have to get the feeling this was a moral victory for Auburn tonight. The Tigers took the No. 2 team to the wire, gained 332 yards (second most against the Tide this year) and scored 21 points (second mos as well). "We've come a long way," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "Again, we said at the beginning of this that we were going to build a foundation for what we know is right. We are going to do it right, and I don't think there is any question (we have)."
  • "There’s never moral victories, not for me anyway," running back Ben Tate said. "You either win the game or you lose it. That’s it." But Tate also had this nugget: "Things are just getting started here. Auburn’s going to be a force to reckon with in a couple of years."
  • Fast start for the Tigers, which is what I wrote about in my sidebar. Gus Malzahn pulled out all the stops early on -- reverses, double passes, wacky formations. It worked to the tune of 149 yards and 14 points after two drives. "We didn't want to leave anything out there," Malzahn said. "We wanted to give our guys the best chance of winning, try to be aggressive. So early on we did."
  • The 14-0 deficit was the largest Alabama had faced this year.
  • Todd threw a pair of touchdowns, setting Auburn's single-season record for most touchdown passes in a season. Todd has 21 this year, one more than Jason Campbell threw in 2004 and Pat Sullivan did in 1971. "It's really a thing where I think it's great for the offense," Todd said. "I think it's great for Auburn. I really have to give the credit to, first of all, our offensive line. They played great all year. The receivers stepped up and made plays and really our running game. I think it's good for Auburn moving forward."
  • Among Auburn's accomplishments was holding Heisman hopeful Mark Ingram to 30 rushing yards on 16 carries. He was out-gained by freshman teammates Trent Richardson, who had 15 carries for 51 yards and a score. "We were physical," defensive end Antonio Coleman said. "We knew they were going to come in and run the ball, they have a great running back. We had to stop the run and that's what we did."
  • Tate didn't do so hot himself against the nation's No. 2 rush defense. He had 18 carries for 45 yards, a season low.
  • Auburn out-rushed Alabama 151-73, the first time in the last 11 Iron Bowls that the winning team did not have more rushing yards.
  • So how did Alabama win? Well, quarterback Greg McElroy came up huge. The junior was 21-for-31 for 218 yards with a pair of touchdown passes. He was calm under pressure on Alabama's game-winning scoring drive, completing 7 of 8 passes for 63 yards, hooking up four times with wideout Julio Jones, who finished with nine receptions for 83 yards. McElroy finished it off with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Roy Upchurch to give Alabama its first lead of the night with 1:24 to play. "That may have been one of the greatest drives I have ever been associated with in a fourth quarter to win the game," Saban said.
  • Auburn's undermanned defense put up a valiant effort. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof summed it up like this: "We emptied the tank out there. We just have to find a way to make one better play or one better call. ... It rips your guts out. I feel bad for our fans. I feel bad for our seniors and the kids in that locker room. They gave it everything they had."
  • Bama clamped down on Auburn's offense after the start. The Crimson Tide held Auburn to 183 yards in the final three quarters, 72 of which came on a touchdown pass to Darvin Adams. Alabama pressured Todd for most of the game and finished with nine tackles for a loss. "That's the best defense in America. There's no doubt," Malzahn said. "They're very well coached at each position and they've got great skill and at times we had them off balance. They heated us up in the second half and put a lot of pressure on us and got us in some negative plays. Give those guys some credit."
  • Saban had the best quote of the night: "Only the strong survive, but the strong still get their ass whipped," he said. "And that was my message to the team. I shouldn't use that kind of language, but we did survive because of our character and resilience."
  • What's up next for Auburn? Good question. The Tigers will have to wait for tomorrow's games to play out before they have an idea of where they might end up for a bowl game. And the final decision might not be made for another week. Most likely destinations: Chick-fil-A bowl in Atlanta, Music City Bowl in Nasvhille and Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Outside chance at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
  • It was the final home game for Coleman. "It's tough," he said. "I had tears walking off the field. It finally set in that I'd never be walking on that field again in an Auburn uniform. The only time I'm coming back now I'll be standing on the sidelines cheering these guys on so it's tough, but I have one more month with these guys, bowl game. Like I said before, I'm going to ask these guys again to lay it out on the field for me and I'm going to do the same for you."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!! AU WILL REIGN NEXT YEAR! THAT WAS A GAME. GENE CHIZIK IS A GREAT COACH! WE PLAYED GOOD FOOTBALL AGAINST A GREAT TEAM. YOU HAVE TO PLAY GREAT FOOTBALL TO BEAT A GREAT TEAM AND THAT SHOWED AT THE END. BUT I HOLD MY HEAD HIGH AND MY AU FLAGS FLY SHOWING THAT WE ARE ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY. IF WE CAN HANG WITH THE TIDE AT THEIR BEST THEN WE SURE CAN BEAT ALL THE REST! AU! AU! AU! AU! NATIONAL CHAMPS 2011

Andy Bitter said...

My ears!

Anonymous said...

Andy, thanks for the great job you've done all year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andy.... you've given us valuable insight all year. When it comes to the real story, you are always who I come to. Keep up the good work. War Eagle!

Simmons B. Buntin said...

I agree wit the others: Andy, it was great stumbling onto this blog -- the first place I go now for Auburn info. Thanks!

That was a tough game to lose and yet you can't come away with any other conclusion than that next year looks very promising -- and that this year even at 7-5 Auburn really stuck together and we've got the right coaches and just as importantly the right heart. Todd had a great year, even given the ups and downs, but once we find a QB designed for this system, even in the SEC, the sky's the limit.

War Damn Eagle (and dare I say: Go Gators?)!

AUBigCat said...

AB you have been so solid all year long! i love your stories and insight. Thanks for the hard work you do!

ATCVX said...

Just echoing some ofthe other post. Excellent work this year, Andy. I use to go to tigerland for mot auburn info but this is the first place I head now. It's a shame that we couldn't pull that game out, but they played well and even though the clock management was very suspect there at the end we dominated a team that i was worried about getting whooped by.

It's a shame the regular season is over with, but it was a good one, for the most part. Those Kentucky and georgia games will haunt me for the rest of the year but 7-5 is where I had us finishing and we played well for the most part so I can't complain too bad. Long as this staff hangs atone it should be interesting to see how good we can get with a healthy supply of recruits. Guess I'll have too root for the N.O Saints the rest of the year.

ATCVX said...

atone = around. Crazy iPhone & it's spelling predictors.