Hopes were soaring for 2019 after last year’s stunning LSU game and a dominant win over a decent ACC team in the bowl matchup. The schedule was brutal, but most people had tentatively pencilled in four very respectable losses and were prepared to be fine with that.
Except Auburn wasn’t supposed to be one of those losses. Suddenly we’re at 2-2, out of the rankings, winless in conference play, and staring down a very long October and November.
Yesterday over a hundred thousand Aggies gathered once again in heady anticipation of conference play. This is where Jimbo was going to hit his stride: approaching the midway mark of his second year. We were attempting to further reshape the reputation we had for losing SEC West games to ranked teams at Kyle Field. It was supposed to be a huge marker for improvement, or at least to inspire hope for the rest of the year.
Instead, we got neither. We got this
- 2.7 yards per rush
- -1 turnover margin
- 5/14 third down conversions
- 3 fumbles
- 2 touchdowns
- 2 missed field goals
- a sickening inability to adjust or modify the stagnant offense until very late in the game (repeat of Clemson)
- a plethora of examples of being ill-prepared and outcoached that cannot be quantified by stats
The flatness of the offense cannot be overstated. There is never a sense of urgency, as if the game existed in a bubble where the entire premise assumes that defenses may or may not try to stop our momentum. When it looks like Mond should scramble, he forces a throw, and when it looks like he’ll have an open throw available he’ll roll out a bit more and get pressured. He was knocked down more times than he wasn’t.
The defense for the most part played decent assignment football, except for those few times they didn’t, and got gashed for long touchdowns or crucial third-down conversions by the quarterback. Still, holding Auburn to under 300 yards of total offense and still managing to lose is quite an accomplishment in itself.
So what’s next? We’ll probably recalibrate our expectations a bit. That NY6 Bowl might be looking more like a Belk or Music City holiday instead. Mississippi State becomes as daunting as ever, and next week’s 11 a.m. matchup in a sterilized shrine to corporatized sport against a team who lost at home to San Jose State takes on all the gravitas of a Big 12 tilt with Kansas from a decade ago. It just means more, indeed.
Welcome to the rest of This Year, where we can’t wait to start talking about Next Year in September. Let’s salvage some fun out of this season, because that’s really all we can try to do.