That understood, I stand by my opinion. Sure, Auburn beat the tar out of New Mexico State offensively in the second half, but, um... they're New Mexico State. Even this year's playmaker-challenged Tiger offense had more than enough talent to wear out and bury a defense that weak, and they could easily afford to keep pounding the ball until the Aggies gave out. Against a better opponent, well, Jerry himself says it well:
Play-action was pretty much as creative as Borges got on first down, and I think he will have to do more to keep the likes of, well, hmm, let me strain to come up with an example, Florida on their toes. And running a full 66 percent of the time on 1st-and-10 is probably still a little high, even for a team that was ahead the entire second half.
Look, my complaint isn't really about first-down play calling (although I'm not crazy about it; as I said earlier, if you can stop Auburn short on first down, you're quite literally way ahead of the game), and certainly not about the NMSU game. It's about the entire offensive philosophy that we've seen pretty much since the second game of 2006. Last year that was usually good enough, as the offense could hold on to the ball and move the chains long enough to win. Even setting aside all the turnovers, this year AU has way too many three-and-outs to get away with that kind of football. It ain't ball control when you rarely have the ball--you can look it up.
Even if the offense weren't struggling, Auburn has too many other issues to play "we'll beat everybody 13-10." Crucial breakdowns in the return game have made things even worse; if the Tigers just don't give up a 50-yard return against USF or get buried deep late in the the fourth quarter against MSU, they're most likely 4-0 right now. A really, really ugly 4-0, but still.
All that understood, the idea that this 2007 team can turn things around just by playing unflavored yogurt on offense and relying on the defense to keep things close is simply nuts. That defense is staying on the field way too long, and the kick coverage still stinks. If I can see that Auburn's running an extremely limited playbook that doesn't fool anybody, you can bet the house that an actual defensive coordinator can, too. And that's what I've seen these last four games.