Here at RazorbackExpats, we've been looking forward to the Auburn game all season. Not because we're anticipating a win, but because it gives us a chance to chat with one of the funniest and most talented bloggers out there: Jerry of The Joe Cribbs Car Wash. So, read on to get his wildly entertaining take on Auburn's season so far, the Tony Franklin soap opera and if Tommy Tuberville would rather have dinner with Nick Saban or Bobby Petrino. (And be sure to click here to see our responses to Jerry's questions about the Hogs.) Quick editors' note: questions were exchanged before Franklin got canned, so, yes, we are aware that he has been booted.
Give us your quick assessment of Auburn's season so far. Is it safe to assume that things haven't gone the way fans had hoped or expected?
Uh, yes. Quite, quite safe. Not so much on the defensive side of things, where save for one iffy half against LSU the Tigers have been every bit as good as advertised and then some. But of course, that only does so much good when you're working with the worst offense, bar none, I've ever seen on the Plains. The blowout of Louisiana-Monroe was palatable and the comfortable win over Southern Miss may have even been "tasty," but since then the team has sunk to its lowest levels--again, without question--since 2003. Especially when contrasted with the Tide's rocket-ship ride to No. 2 in the country, it's not the best of times for Auburn fans. In fact, it's pretty much exactly the opposite.
Obviously the quick scouting report on Auburn this year is defense = scarily good, offense = scarily bad. Take us beyond those stereotypes...what are the Tigers' strengths and weaknesses that we should watch for?
What's funny is that I'm not sure you can go too far beyond those stereotypes--the defense honestly doesn't have a single glaring weakness and likewise there's nothing this offense as currently constructed does well. But the Hogs are catching this defense at the right time--the Tigers are way, way banged up, with top corner (and arguably the unit's best player) "doubtful" in Jarraud Powers and FDA-certified DT monster Sen'Derrick Marks nursing a sore ankle. Particularly with Powers out, the best way to attack the D is to put multiple wideouts on the field and go after the corners--freshmen Neiko Thorpe and D'Antoine Hood will be terrific a couple of years from now (and Thorpe's not far off now) but they're still freshmen. With Auburn's offense, who the bloody hell knows at this point, but forcing Auburn's QBs--the erratic-if-electric Kodi Burns and rag-armed-if-accurate Chris Todd--to throw is very rarely a bad thing.
When we first saw offensive coordinator Tony Franklin at Auburn, he was implementing a new offense practically overnight and leading you guys to 400+ yards in your bowl win. That was certainly an impressive beginning...where have things gone wrong since then?
The specific details vary depending on who you talk to, but there's not much doubt at this point that whether because Franklin did a bad job of selling his offense to the other offensive assistants--all of which have been with Tubby for ages--or whether they outright rejected it, Franklin and his staff members weren't on the same page. The result was the rocky outings over the first few weeks, at which point Tubby stepped in and demanded Auburn install some new sets to try and get some yards on the ground, which only made worse the offense's lack of focus and deep divisions amongst the staff. This week things came to a head and voila, no more Franklin.
What's the daily count of flaming bags of dog shit being delivered to Franklin's doorstep? At this rate, will he be back next year?
Up until his firing, I'm guessing he'd probably maxed out at about 4.7 bags a day, and obviously, that rate was at least somewhere between 2 and 2.5 too many dog-shit bags per day to keep him employed. What's been interesting is that between the bizarre timing of Franklin's firing and the increasing attention paid to the inability and/or outright refusal of Auburn's staff to work with him, many Auburn fans--maybe even a majority, by this point--have now turned their ire towards Tuberville, blaming him for the blind loyalty to his other assistants and not letting Franklin run things the way he wanted to from the get-go. Me personally? There's blood on all their hands, as you don't have an apocalyptic performance of the kind Auburn showed against Vandy without incompetence across the board.
Would Tommy Tuberville rather have dinner with Bobby Petrino or Nick Saban? How will the history between Petrino and Tuberville ("Jetgate", etc) affect the game?
Second question first: until Wednesday I'd have said that Tuberville's desire to win this game would be so great that the focus and intensity of practice would have been off the charts this week, that Auburn would enter as prepared as they've been all season. Now? Who the hell knows. Methinks even Jetgate won't have as much an impact on this game as Franklingate. As for the first one, Saban in a heartbeat. Saban's just another coach to Tubby even if he's at the Tide. Petrino's the guy who Tubby gave his shot after his NFL dismissal and then merrily agreed to secretly replace him anyway. Tubby despises him.
Paul Finebaum says that if Petrino and the Hogs beat Auburn this weekend, then Tuberville is finished. That seems crazy to us...can it really be true? And would it be one of the all-time weird ironies if Petrino ends up being responsible for Tubby leaving Auburn after all?
Hoo boy, if it works out that way Alanis might just have to re-record the song all over again, it would be so ironic. But Finebaum--as is his wont, his calling, his raison d'etre--is exaggerating. An Arkansas loss combined with another loss to either West Virginia or Ole Miss and then a sweep at the hands of Georgia and the Tide would make things awfully hot under Tubby's collar, that's for sure. But the Iron Bowl is the key--if Tubby wins that, Auburn could finish 5-7 and he'd be OK.
Moving along to the Hogs, this is one of the worst Razorback teams we've ever seen. Are there any players that worry you?
I watched big chunks of both the Florida and ULM games (thanks, GamePlan!) and honestly, as beat up as Auburn's defense is they're not ready to stop guys like Michael Smith and D.J. Williams completely, especially if Dick's on his game and Luigs and the line are feeling feisty. One of these weeks, I'm convinced, the Hogs are going to start turning all these long drives into scores, and if this is that week Auburn will be in big trouble. Admittedly I don't see anyone on the Hog defense that troubles me, but I have enough of those people on the Auburn offense that it doesn't matter.
Our Q&A last year featured a reverse jinx battle in which we each tried to outdo each other in describing why our teams were going to do badly (unfortunately events proved us to be the winner of that argument). So, let's do it again: what's your prediction for the game and what pitfalls await the Tigers?
I cannot freaking believe the spread for this game--19 points?!?!?! I'm sure I'm not the first person to say it, but if Auburn even scores 19 points I'll be over the moon. Here's a "pitfall" for you: our offensive coordinator was fired this week and we're putting the playcalling in the hands of our aging tight ends coach (Steve Ensminger) who not-so-incidentally had his crack at the job five years ago and turned an offense featuring Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, and a flock of NFL wideouts into toothless mush. I'd have some hope that our defense might score enough for us anyway, but with half the starters either on crutches or wearing a cast or wearing a cast on their crutches, that doesn't seem so likely either. All joking aside: this game scares me shitless.
How is Auburn going to do for the rest of the season? Might this be the week your offense finally gets on track?
No, that's not going to happen this week. Not at all. Maybe after our bye week next Saturday, if Auburn survives and the natives don't burn the athletic department to the ground in the wake of a Hog win. But I'm not optimistic it happens under any circumstances--as I said, the track record of those in charge of the offense is all-caps NOT GOOD and now they're saying they're going to be calling plays out of a Franklin playbook they have no experience with and never gave the time of day in the first place. It's an utter debacle. Unless the bye week helps even more than I'm expecting it to, I'm thinking that any more than a single win against Arkansas, WVU, and Ole Miss will be OK. Then we just have to hope Tubby can pull a miraculous rabbit out of his hat against Georgia or, preferably, if he's just got the one rabbit, the Tide.
Lastly, now that we've had 20 years to evaluate the issue: is there anything Bo doesn't know?
Diddley, specifically, is my understanding. And to my knowledge he's never expressed more than superficial understanding of the thermonuclear dynamics and quantum physics that explain why the work of the Large Hadron Collider represents such a breakthrough for the entire subatomic science community, but maybe that's just because no one's ever asked him.