The offseason brings us many things: glowing retrospectives, hope for a renewed future, previews of upcoming campaigns, promises of youth and watching the progression of NSD recruits. It also brings us abject horror, dread, and some truly awful games when you look a bit closer. As part of our offseason march through the dog days, we will be breaking down the worst games of the 2012 season. Folly, foibles, failure, and painful reprises of games that were unwatchable, baffling and/or just plain awful shall be the order of the day. We begin with two SEC-West foes, Arkansas at Auburn
Auburn and Arkansas football in 2012 were, charitably described, flaming bags of dog vomit. There have not been two teams this inexcusably bad, with this much talent, in the SEC since Dubose's 2000 Alabama team. As of the time of this game, October 6 2012, Auburn was sporting a 1-3 record -and, had ULM handled its business, should have been winless. Needless to say, the Tigers did not have an SEC victory going into this one.
The fuq is that? A dorm room?
Arkansas, meanwhile, was a preseason Top-10 team, with all-everything QB Tyler Wilson, an underrated DL, a superb WR corps...but absent Head Coach/Easy Rider/Dong-Vendor/Serial Mendicant, Bobby Petrino. Not that any of that mattered when the keys to the shiny Hogmobile were given to interim head coach and reverse-Midas, John L. Smith. The Hogs came into this road tilt at 1-4, also winless in the SEC. Its SEC losses were not even competitive, having been shelled by Alabama (52-0) and Texas A&M (58-10).
Something had to give on the Plains. Unfortunately, what we were treated to was a microcosm of both teams' crapulent seasons.
- Arkansas -with the exception of the defensive line- was flat, unmotivated, uninspired, and all around just did not want to be here. Auburn, meanwhile, had perhaps its most execrable offensive line play of the season, yielding 8 bad (mostly gimme) sacks to a Hog team that had 7 entering the game.
- The play-calling on both sides was baffling, as each team averaged over 5 yards per carry, but neither team had a 100-yard rusher, nor did either team feed the ball to a back 20 times. Hell, Auburn only had 13 touches for its top two backs, both of whom averaged over 5 YPC. Gene Chizik's season-long campaign to destroy the psyche of Kiehl Frazier was evident as well. Frazier, who had a respectable if not stellar halftime line of 9-14/118/0td/1INT, and four sacks-taken, was benched in a one-score game at halftime for Clint Moseley. Moseley, as you would predict, went on to throw two very bad second half picks (and were they ugly ones: a horrible overthrow as AU was driving, and an underthrow to a wide-open Phil Lutzenkirchen in the endzone). Noted bansai enthusiast and navel-gazer Moseley would also take four more sacks, as the game got progressively out of reach. Did I mention that, entering this game, Arkansas had the nation's 116th ranked defense?
- Want bad defense? Was it ever on display in this one. The over-generous Arkansas secondary, despite camping out with Auburn's QBs, still surrendered nearly three hundred yards passing to the worst pair of signal callers in the league, with AU WR Emory Blake apparently having cooties, and thus being untouchable by Woo Pig Sooie defenders. Auburn dodged a bullet this week in that JohnEl chose not to go after the incindiary secondary of the Tigers, and tried to shorten the game with straight dive plays. This strategy caught the BVG and Chiz off-guard, and Auburn's unique tackling-optional defensive line was simply no match for the Hogs up front.
- The Game In One Play: Leading 17-7, Arkansas called a reverse pass that was simply astonishing in that 1. It was a terrible call at that down and distance 2. Auburn's attempt at running the Chinese fire drill was hilariously awful. Players were so out of position, and had taken such poor pursuit angles, that they eventually got back in the play because of the reverse action. 3. Despite it being such a drawn out play, and on a very short field, Ark WR Javontee Henderson still had three yards of separation from his man.
This game was, by no stretch, the worst that either team would play. It was, however, indicative of everything that plagued both squads: terrible coaching, poor execution, lack of focus, unforced errors, unmotivated players going through the motions, and every weakness of either team on display like football's terrible glass menagerie. Taken as a whole, and particularly in front of dozens of apathetic Auburn fans, this was one of the dullest, most painful games to watch of the 2012 season. Unfortunately, someone had to win this low-energy slapfight, and the "winner" can only be called as much with a heavy sense of irony.