“Country roads, take me home. To the place I belong”- John Denver
Road games in the SEC can be tough all by themselves, but back to back road games against top 15 teams is just cruel and unusual punishment for our beloved Dawgs. After yet another humbling Saturday night in Auburn, Alabama, our Dawgs look forward to coming home to Starkville for a much needed bye week before taking on the Cougars of BYU. For now unfortunately, let’s talk Auburn:
HEY, WE SCORED A TOUCHDOWN.
Also, Jamal Couch showed some downfield catching ability; especially on a great 4th quarter catch of 30 yards when he toe touched the sideline. Sadly this was late in the game when a lot of Bulldogs tuned out or just didn’t care. This should be encouraging though for Jamal, a sophomore, as he could be a bigger player down the road this season; and it would be amazing if he could springboard into next season too.
I know some will say let’s focus on this year but after back to back performances like the Dawgs just put on, I am pulling the Good anywhere I can find it. Couch is a big body WR, which is abundantly clear we lack this year and is hurting our offense. If you do not have a WR that can just flat out run by a DB, which we for the most part do not have, you must rely on the physicality of a WR to win 50/50 balls. At 6’4 220lbs, Couch offers that ability. With a big bodied JUCO WR, Stephen Guidry, committed for next year and our best committed HS prospect being another large WR, Malik Heath, help could be on the way. If a proven guy like Couch can lock down one outside spot for 2018, it would only make the transition for Heath and Guidry easier.
I bet if at the beginning of the year I would have told you that there would be a two game stretch where our FG kicker would account for as many points as our offense, you’d have called me crazy. At this point just change our helmets to gold and let’s just accept we are Georgia Tech. We are a run, run, run offense who hope our pass plays just don’t result in turnovers. As a proud supporter of the #alwaysrunneverpass philosophy this year, it is becoming abundantly clear that SEC defenses have discovered this is our plan and are shutting it down.
While I talked about the future of our WR’s in the good, that doesn’t help us much this year winning games during the second half of this season. Our offense has to do a better job passing the ball. I know this sounds like a harp on Nicky Fitz and he is to blame for some of the issues, but after Saturday, equal if not more blame can be placed on our current WRs. DROPS. Coach Gonzalez might want to work on the part of WR play that is pretty essential to success, catching the ball. Drop after drop last Saturday killed any momentum we might have had in the game. I felt like I was watching the “Little Giants” passing drills (maybe we can get some of that tar they used in that movie?).
Okay let me just say, we were not the better team Saturday; however, when the refs are making the calls they were making, it does not matter. In the first quarter there were 3 ref related plays, within 10 minutes of each other, which set the tone for the Dawgs night:
- On State’s first possession, State faced a 3rd and 4 in which Fitz dropped back and attempted a slant route to Deddrick Thomas, which was thrown high and incomplete. However, the Auburn safety coming down to break up the play, saw the ball fly past Thomas but continued his momentum and finished his tackle hitting Thomas in the head. Flags flew. While this was not the dirtiest targeting penalty I have ever seen (he barely grazed his helmet), the maliciousness of the safety to accelerate, knowing the ball was pass the receiver and he was defenseless, was obvious; and the targeting penalty was clear, the player should have been ejected. NOPE. The play was ruled not targeting and no penalty was assessed. WOW.
- The very next play, MSU punted the ball to Auburn. The returner fielding the ball at the Auburn 28 and ran to the right where a blatant and obvious block in the back (seriously this guy flew forward like he had a jet pack) occurred and the flag flew. This play likely would have stuck Auburn back inside its 20 and flipped the field position. However, the refs quickly waved the flag off and called no foul and the return to the Auburn 40 yard line stood. WHAT A JOKE.
- Now for the finale. 3 plays later on a 3rd and 4, Jarrett Stidham was sacked by Jefferey Simmons and forced the ball loose which was picked up by Montez Sweat and returned for a touchdown. SIKEEEEEE. The ref seeing the ball going forward chose to blow his whistle for an incomplete pass…………………………you can’t make this stuff up. How do you make that call? Especially when you went to meeting after meeting after meeting in the offseason, in which they told you, “Hey we have instant replay now so we can fix a lot of the bang bang plays just don’t blow them dead.” This play killed the game for State in my opinion. In a game where our offense was always going to struggle, a defensive TD could have changed the momentum of the game. We ended up only kicking a field goal. They scored on the next drive and we were down by 2 scores 7 minutes into the game. BALL GAME
Let’s go home, lick our wounds, and refocus. We have a 4 game stretch of 3 homes games (BYU, UK, UMASS) and A&M on the road, in which we should be favored in 3, with a chance for an upset against an unstable Aggies squad. Dan it’s time to own the locker room and get the minds of our players right. We can be 7-2 after these 4 games, just need to get some swagger back and that starts next week against BYU.