GAME DAY, Auburn vs. USF
Deadline pressures will preclude second-half blogging. My deadline is 11:30. The game probably will end around 11:30. You get the idea. Beat writers for both teams have been loathing this day for a long time. I keep going back to tht 3-OT game against Syracuse a while back. Worst night of my career. Oh man. I still wake up with night sweat occasionally thinking about that night. I had 3 minutes to file a story.
Enjoy your daily dose of literary grace and enlightenment, which you customarily find here at the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.
Halftime: I'm getting bogged down with work for the newspaper. I'll return for updates when I can. Hot topics: Brandon Cox having a terrible game. What is wrong with him? He's not playing the way he had throughout most of 05 and 06.
Update: WLB Merrill Johnson is out with a shoulder injury. Tray Blackmon didn't start. This defense is a mess. They're running Chris Evans (Blackmon's backup) as the lone linebacker. They're running a nickel scheme, alternating between a fifth defensive back or Groves as a linebacker.
It just looks weird. It's Antonio Coleman, Quentin Groves, Sen'Derrick Marks, Pat Sims, Josh Thompson (all linemen), 2 linebackers, 4 DBs.
USF, 14-10: Auburn scored a touchdown. How about that? I think they have a tailback now. Fannin scored on a 4-yard run. His extra effort created the touchdown. He looks really good. Let's see if the redshirt freshman can keep it going.
First quarter ends: This is a one-sided game. Mario Fannin is having a nice game so far. He looks a lot like Brad Lester out there; fast through the hole and gets beyond the line quickly. Brandon Cox doesn't look sharp ... again. The USF offense looks pretty good, too. They run in a non-traditional way. Lots of draws and weird-looking runs. Auburn looks overmatched right now.
USF, 14-3: More big plays. Add two more shrimp on the barbie. That's FIVE big plays for USF now (19, 20, 20, 25, 27). Auburn has zero. Also, USF has 90+ rushing yards already. This is getting ugly. Another USF touchdown might put this beyond Auburn's reach.
USF, 7-3: Hey, Auburn hit a field goal. Isn't that surprising? Drive covered 49 yards. A 1st-and-10 at the USF 29 turned into a 1st-and-15 because of an offsides call on Lee Ziemba. That messed up the flow. Byrum hit a 49-yarder to get the three points. He's good. Punter Ryan Shoemaker is out with a dislocated elbow.
Auburn's third possession (in progress): Mario Fannin is in. Two carries already for 12 yards.
This stat tells it all: Big plays, defined by me as 15+ yards. USF has three (20, 20, 19). Auburn has zero. Longest play is 7 yards.
Auburn's second possession: Nothing happening AT ALL. Decent run by Ben Tate on first down. Four yards. Then a dump pass. Then a totally overthrown ball allegedly intended for Prechae Rodriguez. Just awful. Six snaps. Five yards.
USF, 7-0: The drive was stuck after three plays when Grothe was pressured immediately. He heaved the ball downfield toward a receiver with the hope of drawing an interference penalty. Jae Wilhite was game for that. He plowed into the receiver without even looking toward the ball. Obvious call. Drive resumes. Ball crosses the goal-line three plays later.
0-0 @ 10:51, 1st: Not much goin gon. Auburn's run defense looks stout. Auburn's offense began its first possession at the 1. First play went for 7 yards. Next two went for -2 and -4. Not a good showing for the Tigers.
8:08 Auburn wins toss; defers to second half. AU defends north end zone. Auburn in dark blue jerseys. USF in white tops, emerald green pants.
7:55: The eagle flew tonight. If you recall, rain canceled last week's performance. Flight lasted a little longer than usual when Spirit went for a round-about trip over fans in the south end zone. Very cool tradition.
7:20 p.m: I have mitigated the masses and made my way to the press box. Night games are fun most of the time. This one is starting too late. I prefer a 2:30 game that leaks into dusk. Looks like the videoboard has been tweaked. I think the brightness has been boosted. It was a little dark at times last week. Not this time.
On a personal note: I wasn't able to get out for TV shopping yesterday as planned. To the anonymous poster who suggested a Pioneer plasma: Genius. If only I could slide another $2,500 past my wife.