will: My thoughts on Auburn, having seen most of the game vs. State and the second half of Saturday night vs. Clemson:
• I stand by what I said about Newton: a transcendent talent who's going need some significant help if Auburn's going to compete for a championship.
• Someone should tell coach Chizik it's OK to unzip your bizarre short-sleeve windbreaker thing when it's 90 degrees.
• I don't know if Auburn's going to get better defensively. They're not getting worse, either. They kind of are what they are: some talent, good enough to hang around, never really going to dominate anybody. Thus far they've played well enough to win.
• Which, to me, is the real storyline so far. Yes, the 'Bama fan in me wants to sit here and haughtily say Auburn was lucky to get out of Starkville, and was lucky AS HELL to escape without a loss to Clemson (which would've derailed the season). Then again, that's what good teams do: they find ways to win, sometimes goofy ways that are unbelievable and become more unbelievable with each passing day.
• Am I all in on Carolina? I suppose. if they get out of the next two games — at Auburn, home against 'Bama after a week off — there's a solid chance they go to Gainesville with the division on the line in November.
(Of course, it's worth noting that Carolina's been here before and found ways to screw the pooch. So let's just say I'm cautiously optimistic.)
Jamie: Auburn: I see a team that has beaten a decent SEC team on the road and what I believe will show to be a good team in Clemson, all the while really...strugling. To me as an AU fan this is encouraging. What can happen when if put it together? I for one hope we get to find out. Offensively, Seems like we are strugling to run the ball, getting things bottles up and getting beat up front, but we lead the league in rushing. I guess that is what Newton brings. Problem is, if he doesn't start finding the open receiver, it's not going to matter. Defensivly I feel like it is against some sort of religio for us to actually prepare for a team. Like we get more satisfaction in getting beaten up in the 1st half then make the necessary adjustments. So far 2nd half D has been great, and is a testimate to said adjustments. I keep telling myself that noone we played in the 1st 3 games had any reason to show anything offensivly before they played us. S Carolina has been forced to show their hand, so we'll see if my hope is a reality.
will: My 'Bama thoughts (and I've seen us play every down for two years):
• Kickoff coverage has thus far been much better than last year. Of course, I don't want to jinx it, so ...
• It's hard to say much about the offense. They've done exactly what it took to win 3 games. Their biggest contribution thus far: staking the defense to an early lead over Penn St., which forced the Lions' freshman QB to have to play from behind in a hostile environment. That was the game.
• The defense has downgraded sharply. There's simply no other way to say it. I see a team that can't rush the passer (even at Duke, with Dareus in the lineup, we couldn't generate any pressure), a team with a secondary that can't cover anybody much and a team that's missing tackles in critical situations. Arkansas might score 42 this week. I mean that.
• This team remains impeccably coached, and can still win 9-10 games on the strength of playing smart. But Saturday's game doesn't look too good to me at this point.
Of course, that could just be me.
Jamie: Bama: Noone will outscore them. On your point about not getting pressure, I haven't watched much bama ball this year, especially x and o type watching, but it would seem to me like Nick is using LB's more to help the young secondary in pass coverage instead of locking the corners down and bringing LB pressure. Might be a reason for lack of pass rush. Either way, Ryan Mallett is having trouble sleeping this week after what he went through last year.