Monthly Archives: August 2008

Thoughts from the West Texas observatory – La. Monroe

Anonymous Flickr Auburn Fan mocks my handicap…

By J. Henderson

I promise I’ll soon shut-up about my expatriate acclimation, but allow me to say that while running out to the new neighborhood grocery store with my young’n just before kickoff to buy the Fritos we forgot earlier at Wal-Mart, and hearing the Texas Tech game (they won big) playing over the intercom, but then having my Dad call, holding the phone up for me to hear the eagle fly, fly, fly, me trying to keep the phone on my shoulder while holding young’n’s hand in the check out line, and then hearing the tinny, apocalyptic “hell, yeah, hell, yeah dun, dun, dun, dun, dun”-style pre-pre-game video as she said “Look Daddy, Auburn colors” to the M&M’s I just poured out for her before we hopped back in the van, well, allow me to say that I almost broke down.

It was all XM last night. The first I saw of anything that happened yesterday on Pat Dye Field was this wee-hour morning, I was the 45th view of Plainsgmail’s YouTubed ESPN 40 sec. highlight clip.

Listen to Holtz gush over Robert Dunn (and James? Jane?) — do you think The Auburner got to him? (They did make this, right?)

And speaking of The Auburner, then I found their highlight video. And it made me very happy.

Amazing, and thank you.

But now, knowing that I only heard, knowing that I wasn’t sweating my way back home through the steamy kudzu shouts of victory up Bragg Ave. after the game (oh mercy), but thousands of miles away in a computer chair, allow me my thoughts on Week One.

I think it says something, a good something, that a first game 34-0 shutout of any team, even (or especially) one bearing the psychic “remember what they did to… what if… ” gravitas of this year’s La. Monroe (though I was the first to predict a loss almost literally impossible because of said gravitas) at first seemed so disappointing, inauspicious even.

However, from my pathetic vantage point I don’t there is as much cause for gloomish alarm regarding the offense as text messages from the front (thank you Russell) made out. I won’t run through the stats and such (but a little something interesting was Rod Bramblett’s comment that by scoring his touchdown, Robert Dunn broke the nation’s longest no-punt-return-for-TD drought, it was our first punt return for a touchdown since 1996, seems almost impossible — and while we’re on the subject of Dunn, though my dreamy “watch for this” regarding a Todd to Smith shuffle pass to the right for a touchdown almost seemed / sounded to come true at some point in the 3rd quarter, I say we go ahead and award Jerry the Leonard Postosties Smart Pill Award for the entire year for his just before kickoff prognostication:

4. Robert Dunn is going to break a punt return this year.

End parentheses)…

Here’s the obvious:

Tony Franklin is obviously to be taken seriously when he waxes strategic on his spread wearing down defenses as we obviously got better in the second half, thanks perhaps to the much improved performance of the offensive line possibly resulting from, as Will notes, and Quentin Riggins reported, a lively exhortation from Tony the Tiger … we obviously should get the ball to Fannin more (guaranteed and instant five yard gain from first point of contact with defender), Ben Tate is obviously awesome, Antonio Coleman will obviously, tragically kill a man before December, and Paul Rhoads should obviously be pleased — his first coached play as Auburn’s defensive coordinator resulted in a touchdown, the first point’s of ’08.

As for the quarterback situation, it’s obviously as I, and most everyone, suspected, and as the handwriting on the wall said all along — total Voltron-style.

I, for one, don’t think this is a bad thing. I never have. Perhaps I don’t know anything, not one thing, but I can’t help but think that as long as (or especially if) Chrodi Torns (or, if you prefer, Khrisodi Burn-Stodd) is fine with it, it’s actually a good thing. I don’t think the purported, and yeah, logical, psychological benefits of lone leaderdom negate the potential for similar benefits / results from a dual-threat tandem. Nor do I buy into the idea, batted around by Q and the gang early in last night’s radio broadcast, that the revolving doorness of it all might be the source of Chrodi Torns’ seemingly stymied grooves. That might fly if Burns and Todd were switching places on every down, but surely not every series — wouldn’t a QB’s specialized biorhythms simply interpret the extra breathers as a sustained drive by the other team or a long CBS-style TV timeout? In fact, as my man Stan White countered, the system, as implemented last night, might theoretically enhance said (said said said) biorhythms, infusing them with the dopamine of competition. Or something. I don’t know. I just don’t think the quarterback rotation had much of anything to do with the early, very ’07-style offensive ineffectuality. I think that’s mistaking a symptom for the cause. I just think that, instead of one first-time-starting quarterbacks struggling in a a season opener, we saw two.

I don’t think that will last long.

My continued hopes however, oh yes, they last, they go on… because if the loitering hurricanes, the new coordinators, and the new offensive system haven’t seemed familiar enough to flood your veins with pangs of the eternal pangs and dreams of ’04, please to enjoy not only Will’s great recap of yesterday (and Jerry’s too! great!), but his included recap of 2004’s season opener against… La. Monroe.

Disclaimer: this is not by any stretch a prediction. But. Four years ago, I wrote this about an Auburn opening against… LAMO:

On the one hand, you’ve got a workmanlike shutout of (let’s face it) one of the worst football teams in the country. To their great credit, Louisiana Monroe’s players didn’t show a lot of give-up on Saturday, but they also didn’t show a whole lot of ability. Auburn substituted all the way into the scout team by the fourth quarter, and the closest LA-MO ever got to scoring was a couple of missed field goals. On the other hand…

Look, it’s obvious that the AU coaches went into this game intending to show future opponents absolutely nothing of use, and it’s safe to say that they succeeded. “Vanilla” doesn’t begin to describe the blandness of the formations and plays displayed on Saturday. Try “tasteless and odorless,” or maybe “invisible.”

… With that understood, there are still worries. Either La-Mo’s defensive line has gotten a lot better since last October (entirely possible; they were big and quick, easily the best-looking athletes as a group that the Indians fielded), or Hugh Nall still has a lot of work to do up front. Run blocking was hit-and-miss (sometimes literally), and pass blocking was downright bad a lot of the time. And don’t get me started on the reappearance of last year’s bugaboo, the dreaded slanting defenders. More than once, a friend sitting nearby said, “It’s a good thing they suck, or we’d be in trouble.”

I would also be remiss if I didn’t admit that Jason Campbell’s play was not encouraging. Whether by habit, design, or just happenstance, Campbell is still locking in on his first guy and not seeing open receivers down the field, he’s throwing behind the receiver too often, and his two turnovers were flat-out awful, the kind of stuff you expect from a freshman, not a fifth-year senior.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

Now, once again–not a prediction, or anything remotely like it. I’m not expecting, anticipating, or even wildly dreaming about a 2004-ish run for this team. But it’s still comforting, in an odd and nostalgic kind of way, that the best Auburn season in recent history also started against LAMO, and not with a bang, but with a “What the–?”

Now, in other news, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Bama is back.

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The Assassin

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Sat Morning

I’m not going to be able to watch it, it’s just not going to happen, I’ve tried. Next week, Southern Miss, yes. This week, no. It’ll be like the glory of ’93. However, unlike that magical era, Auburn has some awesome new webcams (I guess they’re new, if not, then at least better than they were). So, yeah, not only will I be able to watch the white aftermath at Toomer’s and smile and sit my daughter up in the lap and smile and laugh and cry for home, I’ll actually be able to catch some of the actual stadium action — the east upper deck (so make some signs, east deckers) — while XMing it from the lonesome tundra of Lubbock. It’ll be surreal. Rod, Stan, Paul, Quentin, AU IT dept, let’s do this.

Some quick things to pass the time.

Despite the raucous, arguably-contrary-to-traditional-advertised-Loveliest-Village-aesthetic standard in Auburntron’s YouTube oeuvre, Nate’s latest is hilarious and a half. And we need this sort of stuff.

And real quick, David Ching, the most net generation gossip savvy beat writer blogger we’ve ever had covering the Tigers, the kind of fella who describes not just the injuries, but the blood and the Neosporin like everyone wants, has called it quits after all of eight hours or something. Old news, I know, but I wanted to give a shout out – it was great while it lasted, and hey David, War Eagle.

and while we’re at it, why not the sequel… “ching CHING!”

War Eagle.

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Further renovations to Jordan-Hare West?

By J.M. Comer

A blog post from Roll ‘Bama Roll noted that there are renovations going on this week in Bryant-Denny Stadium, also known as Jordan-Hare West. A giant houndstooth hat was being lifted into the stadium via crane for a new restaurant.

… the hat will sit above a new concession stand fittingly dubbed, “The Bear’s Den.” Many of the other new concession stands will have similar themes. Ezell’s Fish Camp, for example, will have a tin roof and look like a cabin on the lake, while “Crimson Fried” will have a mural of past Alabama football teams.

Either way, it’s pretty interesting stuff in terms of how they are upgrading concession services around the stadium.

Interesting stuff indeed! Dearest readers, it gets even more interesting! Thanks to our undercover TWER operatives in Tuscaloosa, we have obtained a surveillance photo of another object being loaded into the stadium for concessions. A surprise for the opening game? It appears that Bama has decided to celebrate another coach with another giant “signature” object: Mike Shula’s Ice Cream Cone Shoppe will be ready for 2008! I can’t wait to try the “Croyle Crushed Dreams Ripple” at our home away from home this year. War (Yum) Eagle!

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Filed under Diversions / Investigations, Iron Bowl 365

Dreams on the eve

Last year before the Iron Bowl, Chris Shelling Jr. told me he had a dream (he has Iron Bowl dreams every November).

In this dream, he stalked J.P. Wilson on Tuscaloosa’s campus. He followed him to the bathroom after class. He handed him a pillow and told him he should take it with him to Jordan-Hare, even carry it out on the field for Bama’s first play.

“Why,” Wilson asked.
“So you can bite down on it while Quentin Groves is…”

Last night, I had a dream. It didn’t have as silky a narrative as Jr.’s but I want to think that it’s fairly poignant, even if for the mere fact that I dreamed it at all.

It was the first game of the 2008 season. It wasn’t on TV, and being in Texas I couldn’t see it on pay-per-view — only that first game was, somehow, the Iron Bowl. And somehow, somehow, The Corner of Wire Road and Shug (which has really been rockin’ it lately) had some pirated game-tracker that included live video, and so I’m watching and we score in four plays, the touchdown coming on a 30+ yard straight ahead, head down barrel run by Eric Smith! He took it from the quickest shuffle pass ever from Chris Todd who was actually under center, he just pushed it like a bullet over to Smith on his right, and Little Rudie just never slowed down. Watch for this.

I woke myself up with a “War Eagle.”

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Filed under General, Pre-game Notes

Tom Arnold, Bammer for a Day

By J.M. Comer

Found on The Tide Druid‘s blog:


Roll Tide. (Gears turn in that big fat waterhead as he stands teetering in place. Swaying from intoxication. “Am I saying this right?” He panics. A failure blend of coke and alcohol courses through his system. Arnold’s bloodshot eyes dart quickly to the side. What am I supposed to say next? Oh yeah.) Aulwurn sucks … hhh-hhh-hhh! (“I made a funny! Tom, you devil, you’ve still got it!”)


So, Nick Saban’s new Hollywood adviser, Tom Arnold, visits Tuscaloosa this week to take in practice, “proudly” proclaiming (according to many Tider insiders) that his “son” (he doesn’t have a son, he has a godson, more on that later) will play for the Tide one day. After said practice, “Soul Plane” actor Tom Arnold, takes a shot at Bama’s rival in a YouTube clip. Thank God in Heaven that Tom Arnold doesn’t like Auburn. We should be celebrating this fact. Put it in Auburn’s media book: “Historically, and as recently as August 2008, drunk jackasses tend to dislike the Tigers.” Is the tag still on that shirt that Mal Moore gave him? What a strange, strange road Tom Arnold is taking this rivalry. How does Auburn retaliate at this point? What Grade-D celebrity do we roll out to make a counterpoint in this important YouTube debate on who rules and who sucks?

But wait! There’s more!

Sorry to burst your bubble Tide fans, but maybe Arnold’s loyalty is a bit … shall we say … unsteady? Finishing up divorce #3 this month, Tom Arnold is also now having to defend his loyalty to the University of Iowa (he’s supposedly 100 percent Hawkeye) after attending Bama’s practice. In an e-mail to Hlog he makes this rambling, incoherent, back-peddling point:

Okay, slam my work BUT NEVER question my Hawk G-Friend went to Bama..she’s got a place there, Nick Saban used to coach in the Big I took my godson, his mom and sisters to a closed practice with the AD to watch and say hello to Nick. (I did remind him of the Capital One Bowl a few years back and he’s a great guys so..:) My godson, who’s the best 8 year old quarterback in Brentwood California, is being forced to go to Alabama (unless he gets into Harvard) by is mother. Of course I’ve pitched Iowa City but as you all know, with women, you’ve got to pick your battles and since he’s only 8..well…and while I’m here, where’s the Hawk Loyalty for OUR COACH??? He could’ve dumped us years ago..could’ve been head coach of the NY Giants, World Champs, but no, he’s loyal, so let’s try to stay off the man’s butt…we’re better than that. Tom

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In Three Days…

That’s right – John Denver and a golden freaking eagle. War Eagle.

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