Winning Impossible Alabama and Auburn Football Victory Prevention
Many Alabama and Auburn football players were not even born yet, but their parents could have met on Match.com, which was newly launched, jammed to Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose,” which was number one on the charts and enjoyed Sony’s newly released PlayStation. That’s the last time Alabama and Auburn football teams both lost giving up 40 plus points in the same day, October 14, 1995. Well, until Saturday, September 19, 2015, where in Bryant-Denny Stadium and Baton Rouge it happened again. Alabama 43 – 37 at home with Ole Miss; Auburn 45 – 21 on the road to LSU. Falling off the gold standard in the heart of college football seems like an utter disaster to the two fan-bases that support college football greater than anywhere else in the country. The last six Iron Bowl victors went on to win the SEC Championship and competed for a National Championship, last year the College Football Playoff. With the exception of perfect 14 – 0 seasons, Alabama’s 2009 and Auburn 2010, each team lost one game in the regular season. That’s comforting, right? Before Tide and Tiger fans gobble that up like Campbell’s Soup on a rainy day, you might want to take a longer harder look at these two teams.
It’s Hard to Win When…
It hardly seems possible that every Alabama and Auburn football player hails from the crem de la crem top ten ranked recruiting classes, six, dating back to 2010, and still the best player in each game was not wearing Crimson and White or Orange and Blue. The two biggest fish that got away, both number one overall recruits, swam away with victories in the Alabama and Auburn football conference openers. Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and LSU running back Leonard Fournette both made so many big plays Mel Kiper won’t be able to fit them all into his highlight reel for the NFL draft analysis.
Number one overall of the 2013 recruiting class, Robert Nkemdiche, was enrolled at Ole Miss by defensive line coach, Chris Kiffin, better known as Alabama offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin’s brother. Making six tackles, two and a half for loss and half a sack, Nkemdiche helped his team flatten the Tide earning him defensive player of the week.
Also number one overall in his 2014 recruiting class, LSU running back, Leonard Fournette ran over, trucked through, sprang over, and even tossed players off like he was swatting at flies. Fournette ran for 228 yards, 12 per carry and scored 3 TD’s in the Auburn game in Baton Rouge. A poll of Heisman Trophy voters after the game voted 23 of 26 for Fournette. The other three must have not watched the game. During the broadcast Gary Danielson asked if he could send in his ballot now.
When the best player in the stadium is not on your team, it’s hard to win the football game.
It’s Hard to Win When…
After the stroke of midnight, but before the team buses turned into pumpkins, in the post-game press conference Coach Saban said, “Are you going to be a giver or a taker?”
Alabama gave Ole Miss more scoring opportunities and Ole Miss took those opportunities and scored.
“If you’re going to be a great competitor you gotta take what you want, you gotta compete that way and you can’t give the other team 24 points off of turnovers.” Saban said.
Alabama had more first downs, more time of possession, more total yards and fewer penalties than Ole Miss. Alabama also threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball three times, while Ole Miss protected the ball and had zero turnovers and that was the difference in the game.
Do Alabama fans long for the days that the rest of the country made fun of their quarterbacks calling them, “just a game manager?” Former Alabama QB two-time national champion AJ McCarron threw 5 interceptions in 2011, 3 in 2012 and 7 in 2013. His successor, Blake Sims threw 10 in 2014. Thus far in the young three-game season, Jake Coker threw 3 and Cooper Bateman threw 2.
Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson threw another interception, which gave him six on the year, more than his five touchdowns, but with the only stroke of luck in Auburn’s hotter-n-hell day in Dealth Valley, it did not lead to an LSU touchdown. His fumble in the second half did. To put this problem into perspective, consider former Auburn QB Nick Marshall who threw 6 Interceptions in 2013 and 7 in 2014 or his predecessor, Cam Newton who threw 7 interceptions in 2010. Both of those QB’s competed for National Championships and the Newton led team won it.
Alabama and Auburn football teams both turned the ball over while their opponents did not.
When you don’t protect the ball, it’s hard to win the football game.
It’s Hard to Win When…
Both Alabama and Auburn football teams lack a rhythm out there, seem to wonder what the play is, and make a lot of mental errors and mistakes.
Former Alabama Center, Barrett Jones in an interview on WJOX 94.5 Birmingham Sports Talk Radio said, “Usually when you lose it’s because you got in a habit of doing the wrong things. When you do the little things right throughout the week and throughout the season, the little things go right for you in the game.”
Alabama and Auburn football teams did not have a lot of little things go right in the games Saturday.
Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson fumbled the ball caused by what looked like a sweaty hand. It just threw backwards, which led to a short LSU TD from the 5 yard line.
Alabama was the brunt of another freakish play, the type that gets its own moniker by sportswriters. Ole Miss QB in the act of being sacked, throws the ball up haunting Nick Saban’s defense like the ghost of Johnny Manziel from 2012, the last time Alabama lost in Bryant-Denny Stadium, for a ball that is tipped and bounces and somehow makes its way into the End Zone in the happy hands of an Ole Miss player. Call it, “Immaculate Reception” or the “Tip Six,” take your pick, but it’s the play that exemplified the feeling of the entire game. All the balls seemed to be bouncing the right way for Ole Miss and were not for Alabama.
When the ball doesn’t bounce your way, at all, it’s hard to win the football game.
Reasonable Expectations for Alabama Auburn Football
It’s possible that either Alabama or Auburn football teams lost to the SEC conference champion last Saturday. That only comforts you if you’d rather think that your team is pretty good and you’re not bothered by the prospect of them not competing for the SEC Championship. But even if you picked up some tarot cards while visiting Louisiana and see LSU or Ole Miss win the SEC in the cards, it would mean that your team is better than you thought last Saturday and could have a great rest of the season.
So what really determines if Alabama Auburn football teams improve? Just one thing, how each chooses to respond to the loss.
The good news for Alabama is that Alabama controlled the line of scrimmage. QB Jake Coker led the team back twice, showed a lot of heart and made plays with his legs. Alabama got down by 20 points and fought back within 6 points with time to win the game. Their 30-10 lead had been cut to 30-24.
Auburn named a new starting quarterback the Tuesday following the LSU game, redshirt freshman Sean White. Private QB coach, Ken Mastrole who has coached White, said that he is as talented as any quarterback he’s ever seen. Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer said Tuesday, “I always thought he would be the guy,” he said, “I was shocked Jeremy Johnson was.” White was MVP of the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game and his first college game snap is Saturday at home against another SEC west opponent, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs already had a visit from Fournette and company and lost 21 – 19.
The really good news, everything changes from week to week in college football and no doubt Alabama and Auburn football fans are ready for a change this week.
When you don’t respond in all the right ways to a loss, it’s hard to win the football game.
Photo Credit: Leonard Fournette by RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGE and Robert Nkemdiche by KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES
If you enjoyed our Alabama Auburn Football article, please take a minute to share it with your friends. We’d love to hear from you. Get these straight to your e-mail by subscribing to our articles. We’re passionate about College Football just like you!