The 2010 version of the Auburn Tigers certainly have their flaws. They certainly have their positives. You can watch the exact same game and offer them the highest praise, and in a matter of minutes, the strongest criticism. I have, and probably will continue to, criticize their defense, specifically coordinator Ted Roof, for their passive and reactive style, allowing for short, quick passes to turn into huge momentum-shifting plays. But one thing that is undeniable – the Tigers are exciting. Whether that is a good or bad thing is contingent on whom you ask. For one, it will be enthralling and entertaining. For another, stressful and nerve-racking to the point of breakdown. But the Tigers continue to win, which is the most important thing for life in the SEC. Every week, you will be tested, but you must learn how to respond and dig deep for those crucial moments that make or break games, and entire seasons.
Auburn’s last three games have been decided by 8 points or less, and all of the games coming down to the wire in the fourth quarter. The Tigers survived a strong fourth quarter push, including an aggressive and threatening final drive, from Mississippi State. Auburn returned home to face out-of-conference foe Clemson, in a nail biter so close, it left many fans with claw marks in their seats. The Tigers fought hard, but rode a wave of luck to beat the energetic and determined Tigers of Clemson on a missed field goal in OT.
Then the #12 South Carolina Gamecocks came calling to the plains, ready to establish themselves as the beasts of the East. It was a hard fought game again, with the Tigers trailing for most of it. Through some big plays, mostly by QB Cam Newton, the Auburn offense was able to rally and get some momentum in the second half. The Tigers were pulled ahead through the air, as Cam Newton threw two fourth quarter touchdowns – the first to Phillip Lutzenkirchen, which put Auburn ahead 28-27, and the second to Emory Blake that extended the lead to 35-27. The defense came up huge forcing four fourth quarter turnovers, which included intercepting QB Connor Shaw, who replaced starter Stephen Garcia, on consecutive drives to close out the game.
While it hasn’t been exceptionally pretty and leaves plenty of room for improvement, the Tigers have displayed many promising things on the field. The most important thing of all, of course, is the ability to win. These close games against some tough early season opponents will be crucial for the Tigers as they looked to push forward and prepare for the rest of a brutal SEC West schedule.