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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Iron Bowl redux

OK,we had a crew of reporters at the Iron Bowl providing complete coverage. Here's everything we wrote:
I didn't see the sidebar I wrote about Auburn's fast offensive start on our Web site, so here it is in its entirety:
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn wasn't about to hold anything back against the nation's No. 1 defense in Friday's Iron Bowl.

The Tigers might have eventually lost 26-21, but they pulled out all the stops in the first quarter, running a number of gadget plays that helped them build a 14-point lead against the No. 2 team in the country.

"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."

Auburn started out with a play that's gone off without a hitch all year. Wide receiver Terrell Zachery got the ball on a misdirection end around on the Tigers' fourth offensive play, sprinting free up the home sideline before cutting back toward the middle of the field for a 67-yard touchdown.

It was the longest rush Alabama had allowed in the three-year Nick Saban era.

"Those are the plays that we’ve always had," running back Ben Tate said. "We’ve always had them in our arsenal just sitting there waiting to use them. This was the perfect game to use them and it helped out a great deal."

After recovering an onside kick, Malzahn dipped back into his bag of tricks. Kodi Burns took a snap out of the shotgun and lateraled it to quarterback Chris Todd, who was lined up out wide. Todd fired the ball across the middle to a wide-open Darvin Adams for a 22-yard gain.

The Tigers tried a variation of the play on the next snap, this time with Todd lateraling the ball to Burns, who threw an incomplete pass to Adams.

"We tried to throw some different stuff at them and throw some different looks, a few things they hadn't seen before," Todd said.

Auburn would go on to score another touchdown, finding the end zone on a 1-yard pass from Todd to H-back Eric Smith with 5:58 left in the first quarter to make it 14-0, the largest deficit Alabama had faced this year.

The 14 points were more than seven of the Crimson Tide's 11 previous opponents had scored in an entire game.

After two drives, Auburn ran 19 plays for 149 yards. Alabama had six plays for five yards.

"When these guys go off from the script, they have all kinds of formations and plays, like double passes, reverse passes," Saban said. "Most of the stuff you haven't seen before."

Alabama coped well. The Crimson Tide held Auburn to 183 yards in the final three quarters, 72 of which came on a touchdown pass to Adams.

The Tide increased the pressure on Todd, sacking him three times for 32 yards and getting six hurries. It also clamped down on Auburn's misdirection plays by jumping all over the screen passes that worked early on. Alabama 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."

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