by J. Henderson
Frothy mugs of satisfaction were passed around in our throats and our skin crawled with the moonlight joy of ‘just winning’ and the beauty is that, in the end, we won handedly – the way these sorts of games are supposed to be won, up in the 50s, 55-20 to be exact. And that was a pretty decent team – did you know that early in the second quarter, Auburn had 71 yards to NSMU’s 266? (Thank you, new scoreboard, it does add an extra dimension.) It took until the final minutes of the game for us to catch them.
There were no boos, there were cheers all around and for the first time this season, our children did not have to ask their Dads if Auburn had the ball, they knew it and they could hear it and yelled accordingly. Yes Billy, we had the ball and we finally did something with it. And when New Mexico State had the ball, the one-man We of Jonathan Wilhite took it from them a couple of times, important times.
It was a beautiful, windy night. It did not rain. The moon was everywhere. And I mean, yeah, we all knew – when it was over, and when we racing home for the Bama loss that would swing life even more back into focus, when through the streets and gravel and the cigar smoke and headlights we jumped up and down and “War Eagle’d” from the balconies, yeah, we knew that it was it was just New Mexico State, and that’s almost why it was so New Year’s Eve and everything: it goes back to that ‘religion, purified’ idea. This is Auburn Football 2007 and the joy is in the journey, the joy is in being a fan.
So, I saw things. I saw beautiful throws, dropped balls, caught balls. If Robert Dunn can ever thaw out his hands, he will be a great player, but I say that the dropping of passes – in the numbers, in the hands, it doesn’t seem to matter – is by far our largest offensive tumor.
I saw tough running. I saw Mario Fannin make tacklers wish they played another position and I stayed to see his stat padding sideline scamper. I saw Ben Tate play like a man, I saw Jerraud Powers kill one, several.
[replay of first TD]
I saw New Mexico State turn Brandon Cox’s comeback fumble into a touchdown in one play but during that blinding, 60 second psychotropic nightmare, I heard nary a single boo, no, instead I heard bone-snapping, sinew-raping, personal growth. I saw the coaches put him back him. It was fragrant.
We are by no means great, and have only put a small down payment on being good, but Auburn winked towards Gainesville tonight, did you see it? Probably about the time the lucky, and banged up Gators pulled back into town, did you feel it? A 7pm game? Stars? Aligning? 1994? It would have made much more cosmic sense had Lester been returned to the active fold in time for the Gators, but you know, maybe not – whether or not he has anything directly to do with it, this has been Tuberville’s style… don’t opt for the easy cosmic sense, go double or nothin’, we’ll see that four game suspension and raise you two more, a single player does not patented Auburn Drama ® make. And hopefully, oh so hopefully, Tristan’s toe will be healed and the state of Florida will know Speed – biblically. And maybe the return of Blackmon?
I’ve been predicting it from the beginning and by “it”, I mean a resounding win, but I digress.
Despite the notes from at least one ‘live blog‘ I’ve seen bemoaning a paltry turnout and even questioning the commitment of Auburn fans, Saturday night’s crowd was actually nearly 1,000 people larger than that at last week’s SEC opener against Mississippi State and it felt like it. Had this once-gimme-game – again, against New Mexico State – been the fourth of the shining season we had hoped for, I would almost guarantee you that it would have been several thousand less, even if played in the afternoon. While the nighttime aspect likely added to the atmospheric incentives for a significant portion of folks, the late start also probably kept many at home. And so I therefore think that, after two punch-in-the-gut losses in a row, the numbers – even more so than the “Brandon! Brandon! Brandon!’s” – speak a great deal of good about Auburn fans, and in the wake of the nauseating phenomenon of last week, it was a statement that needed to be made. The number of Auburn fans on-hand in Jordan-Hare Stadium to see the Tigers take on the New Mexico State Aggies at 6pm would not have fit inside the facilities provided for the fans of such teams as Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Miami and Florida State, just to name a few. Do you read that? The biggest home games that Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Miami, Florida State and zillions more have ever played were attended by at least a thousand less people than were spilling it all for the Auburn Tigers last night – against New Mexico State.
It was a good night, a good day, a good sleep, a good Sunday. We’re Auburn.
War Eagle. We have a busy week.