Football in Auburn is incoherent.
Head coach Brian Harsin can’t figure out how to properly use quarterbacks, mismanage their playing style and squash any sort of tempo, they might have a chance of beating an embarrassment 41-12 on Saturday at Jordan Hare’s Orange Out against Penn State.
Now, the Tigers have their sights set on Missouri for their must-win homecoming game that kicks off at 11 a.m. Cairo time. That’s right, it’s homecoming for Auburn, the team that hasn’t left the house yet this season. It is the fourth of 5 consecutive home games to open the 2022 schedule for the Tigers 2-1.
Scheduling a homecoming, it’s as confusing as taking out a quarterback who has struggled from the start in one of his most successful captains of the season. Why? To please someone somewhere that both are still in the plans this season? Is it a problem with the gate? Is Harsin worried that without meaningful playing time, Robbie Ashford will look elsewhere?
What’s the worst that could happen? Leaving Harsin with rookie TJ Finley and backup Zach Calzada, Texas A&M transition? Is Calzada any good? He defeated Alabama last year. Is this a good thing?
Whether it’s Finlay, Ashford, or even Calzada, it’s a decision Harsin has to make, and it has to be made this week because on Saturday, the Tigers lifted the curtain on the SEC schedule. All introductions are in the books. Harsin was given 3 matches to make his final decisions not just in the middle but throughout the game.
Time for Harsin to put his best tiger paw forward and ride it now that the SEC is here. There are no Mercer or San Jose states left on the table. All of Pennsylvania from now on, with the possible exception of Western Kentucky on November 19, a week before the Iron Bowl.
Missouri is the focus this week, speaking about forced programming. The Tigers title isn’t the only thing these two shows have in common. Missouri is also 2-1 with cupcake wins to go along with Kansas State’s 40-12 shells. The similarities are almost uncanny.
In Auburn’s view, Missouri is not the SEC team you want to be compared to. In our latest SEC Power rankings, Missouri is ranked 13th in the 14-team field. For reference, Auburn is next at #12.
This is probably near the bottom of the list of reasons why this game is a must for Auburn. First, Harsin’s job is at stake. On Saturday we will see if this team lost or not. If he did, the results would not be favorable, and Auburn would be added to the list that includes Nebraska and Arizona for programs looking for a new head coach.
That doesn’t mean Missouri won’t have a fight either way. She’s as disjointed as Auburn and has a lot to prove, and her honeymoon certainly ended in Columbia for coach Eli Drinkowitz.
These are two Tigers programs in the same boat, despite the fact that Missouri has proven more patient with its head coaches than those in charge of The Plains. But when you constantly chase after that other school in the state, you can turn those decisions into hasty and unpredictable reactions.
Missouri may complicate matters on Saturday by clearing up the turmoil. Missouri, the underdog in the descent, is perfectly capable if Harsine doesn’t have tigers in the right frame of mind. It can be said about any SEC match. But a failure to prepare or not participate in what appears to be the most winnable team game on the schedule would be disastrous for Auburn and her coaching staff.