Let's look at where I went wrong vs. where I went right (but not right enough).
Where I went wrong:
1. GT's OL - first and foremost, GT's offensive line played much better than AU's Auburn's front 7. They were kept off balance by the play calling (more on that later) and just didn't push Ball into enough bad decisions. This is where Auburn lost the game.
[Photo: Tuberville and Gailey make arrangements to swap hot seats]
2. Auburn's OL - GT out played them there too. GT got break in that Eric Henderson found out that his family in New Orleans was alive...at half time. The 2nd half he played like a guy with the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders and the AU offensive line paid for that. (I don't want to be disrespectful about that. That's a wonderful blessing to know that your family is alive.)
Where I was right:
1. Cox - I said "it's always a safer bet to take the veteran QB who has proven that he "can" play well vs. the rookie making his first start." The only thing I didn't realize is that Cox would be THAT irratic. The Auburn WRs kept them in the game with great runs after the catch and inflated Cox's stats. If he doesn't stop with the INTs, they are in deep, deep doo doo.
2. Auburn's RBs -- Tre Smith and Kenny Irons are not SEC Caliber backs that start for a division winner. Smith led the team in rushing with 51 yards on 13 carries (3.9 ypc). Consider that 21 of those yards came on 1 carry, that's a pathetic running game. I called this one months ago. See, I do know *something*.
3. GT's Skill vs. AU's Skill-- I said that GT's skill talent was better than Auburn's and it isn't even close. Daniels looked outstanding in this game, Calvin continues to impress, and Ball looked good enough. Bilbo even made some nice plays. It's a shame that Auburn's solid outings by their wide receivers went for nothing.
Going Forward for GT:
1. The defensive backs for these guys aren't very good. Auburn wideouts were open all night. Cox just threw it to the wrong guys too often.
2. Ball's reliance on the lob. Reggie has gotten better with the short pass. He zips it in there much better. He also threw it away MUCH more when in trouble than I remember previously. But he still drops back, throws the deep ball off his back foot and whoever catches it catches it. Hope is not a strategy.
3. Don't let up. GT has had a big win over a rival each of the past 2 seasons. And then followed it up with a complete implosion or two shortly there after. AU '03 was followed by Clemson and Duke. Clemson '04 was followed by UNC.
Auburn Going Forward:
1. Cox has to improve. His mechanics are worse than Ball's last year. He not only throws off his back foot, but he sometimes falls backwards (even without pressure) while doing it. Helen Keller shows more consistent accuracy.
2. They've got to find a running game. They weren't even trying to run the ball. All the big teams in the SEC have dramatically better defensive backs than Tech. The AU wideouts won't be that open vs many folks.
3. Defensive Scheme - AU better find a way to handle a mobile QB with a balanced run pass option out of the gun or LSU and UGA will work them silly. When Chan Gailey takes you to the woodshed with his offensive play calling vs. your defense. There are problems galore.
Overall, not a horribly off prediction given that it was the first game of the year. Who knew that GT's OL would play that well? If they keep that up, GT will make some noise. Hopefully, Gailey will coach them into another stunning loss. ;-D