That game. Wow. It's hard to top the Florida game for drama, but that game at least matched it. What's more, I think we finally came alive in the second half and showed the kind of team we're capable of being. After Auburn went up 17-7, we outscored them 23-7 the rest of the way and dominated their offense most of the time. That we almost lost anyway is kind of crazy.
The final touchdown pass to Demetrius Byrd was a phenomenal throw and a phenomenal catch, especially under the circumstances. I strongly disagree with the announcers about the timing. It is clear we would have had 1 to 2 seconds left on the clock to try a field goal if that one had fallen incomplete. The bigger worry is that we would have gotten sacked or gotten the ball intercepted, either of which probably would have ended the game.
I will say, I did not understand Miles' strategy at the time, and I don't understand it now. We had a third down and about 7 with about 35 seconds on the clock from the 22 yard line with a timeout available. I guess Miles decided he wanted one shot to the end zone, and failing that, a last second field goal attempt for the win. With the result unknown beforehand, I sure would have wanted to have a move-the-chains route available as an option, with then a fresh set of downs to take a couple of shots at the end zone.
Les Miles disagrees with me, however, and Les Miles picked up a big win. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here typing with a 7-month-old in my lap.
Some further observations:
- Brandon Lafell is going to be a very good receiver for us, but right now the drops are in his head. Until he gets over this thing, he's a liability to us in the passing game. Unfortunately, the only way for him to get past it is to keep getting throws his way until he catches enough of them to regain his confidence. One is reminded of Steve Sax and his inability to make an easy throw from 2nd base to 1st base back in the '80s and early '90s.
- That hit on Dorsey was dirty. I want to give a player the benefit of the doubt and say that he didn't go out there thinking, "I'm going to spear their best player in the side of the knee," but it's criminal that it happened right in front of the ref and was uncalled. They said on TV that it was just a sprain, but we know how cagey the coaches are about injuries. I sure hope he can come back soon.
- Demetrius Byrd hasn't caught a ton of passes, but he sure has caught some big ones. The 4th down touchdown pass against Florida two weeks ago and the final-seconds touchdown pass against Auburn, a game winner. I questioned the decision to recruit him, but he's been our best receiver outside of Doucet. Once again, Miles is coaching, and I'm typing at 3:45am with a baby in my lap.
- Despite the last Auburn drive, I really think the second half of this game signaled a re-awakening of our defense, which was excellent for most of the game except the first possession and the last possession.
- Matt Flynn played his best game as a Tiger tonight. Three touchdowns, 1 interception, and nearly 10 yards per attempt are numbers that would win you the Heisman Trophy if you got them consistently. And the one interception wasn't his fault at all, and should have been a big completion for a lot of yards, putting him in position to get another touchdown pass. He did well running the ball as well.
- Ryan Perrilloux is still going to be great when he gets his chance to run the offense next year. Tough night tonight, but he'll be fine.
- I really don't know why Auburn kept squib kicking it. We haven't been a particularly dangerous return team all year. They looked back there and saw the little guy and must have thought, "Better keep it away from the guy who looks like a 14 year old. He must be awesome. He's certainly awesome in some respects, but he really hasn't been all that dangerous on kickoff returns this year. Auburn just gifted us great field position after every score.