Brought to you this week by Tito's Vodka, Bob Marley, and the sandbagging fan who barely missed a 45-yard kick for $10,000 at halftime. If you step out onto that field as a grownass man in a special kicking shoe, you'd better bring it, and you did, sir. Kudos on the good show.
It hit me at some point that I have become the Ole Miss fan I used to mock. I'll own it. I came to win the party yesterday. When I set off for The Hill early yesterday morning, I was looking forward to fellowship with great friends and taking in the majesty of The Natural State at its most beautiful. Football was a distant third. My friends delivered. The gorgeous hardwoods delivered. Football, well... two out of three ain't bad according to Meatloaf. Beverage of choice was whiskey for the first time this season. Jack Daniels and ginger ale.
Still, there was some semblance of a football game played last night. Let's get to it.
Auburn ran like three plays. No trickeration. No strategery. Just a zone read, a draw, and an occasional play-action pass. And we still couldn't get aligned right. Or we couldn't set set a boundary. Or we couldn't play pass coverage and stay on two feet at the same time. Looking at you, Tevin.
I just can't complain about linebackers and secondary anymore, y'all. What else is there to say? It looked like they didn't quit last night, so there's that. Is that a positive? Should I be encouraged that we reluctantly surrendered points instead of conceding them outright? I can sink that low if that's where I need to be. I'm not too proud for a participation ribbon. Just let me know, Coach Ash.
I'm not going to complain about AJ Derby anymore, either. Not going to do it. Nope. But I will say that we had at our tailgate last night a quarterback-center duo from high school days past who, at the urging of our tailgate, successfully exchanged three beers, a bag of Doritos, and a fifth of Makers from under center. Just saying.
Positives. Hey, there were positives! We scored points! We did some other good things, too. Let's talk some about them.
Keon Hatcher actually looked like a receiver last night. Herndon as well. They caught passes in traffic. They caught passes that were high or low. The touchdown pass to Hatcher was a thing of beauty. An actual, honest-to-goodness well-executed play that saw success because Arkansas did things right and not because Auburn screwed up. Hatcher did a great job finding the ball and hanging onto it.
Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins both played well last night. They are the most consistent players on the team right now as far as effort and execution go. I feel for them, because they are doing their part. 200 yards rushing should open up more through the air than it did last night. I put that on Brandon Allen not always doing the right things in (or out of) the pocket, but also Jim Chaney for not putting Allen in much of a position to succeed.
It's just a broken offense right now, y'all. Even when things go right, everything still looks completely disjointed. I'm tacking it up to the overhaul in philosophy this season. Not willing to let go of the rope just yet. Damn if it's not depressing, though.
And even with all that said, take away the Derby turnovers, the horrible play calling in the first half red zone trip that ended inside the five, and the dumb onside kick, and you've got a different ballgame. The Hogs had chances last night, at least, is what I'm trying to say.
The other stuff, the Bert/Gus rivalry, the fake injury to Anthony Swain, the Swinging Gate troll job Bert pulled... it's all funny to me. All of it. Those were pretty much the only things from this debacle of a football week that brought me any joy, so I refuse to get sanctimonious about any of it or take any side. I would look forward to a fake-off between Anthony Swain and Brian Walker, however.
Another tough opponent next week, but another opponent against whom Arkansas can create chances for itself. And maybe, maybe they'll be able to capitalize some more. That's why I'll be watching.
I'll see y'all next week.