We've seen the program take a giant step forward. The 9-0 record speaks for itself. But there's also the following to consider: an enormous uptick in recruiting, the starting quarterback gets injured and we respond by going on the road and beat the Fighting Irish, the fact that a starting linebacker can get popped for pot hours before a road trip and it's buried at the bottom of a sports page under the NHL standings, divisional rival programs are chomping at the bit to fire their coach just to keep up with a second year head coach from Bainbridge GA.
But what's most intriguing to me here leading up to the Auburn game is that Kirby and his staff are out-coaching those across the field. Tucker's halftime adjustments are second only to his pre-game game plan. Jim Chaney has gone from an inept doof with a whistle in between buffets to a bonefied game caller that dares defenses to stop the same play he just ran just so he can show you what his freshman quarterback can do with his arm.
I understand the nervousness for this next game. Auburn is better than they were last year when they seriously considered punting on second downs in Athens because their offense was so offensively incompetent. Stidham is a vast improvement over their disaster at the quarterback position in 2016.
But it's still Malzahn. He's dangerous only when he has the tools that he took from Richt's tool belt. As much as an improvement as Stidham is I still like our defense which has proven they can cover the entire field in big games, then they throttle down and pin their ears back.
Which is why I ask the question: Kirby has shown he can play the entire coaching game, from Mama's supper table to developing entire game plans designed to suck the life out of hostile stadiums. But is he two, three, or even four moves ahead of his opposition?
In other words, we were so vanilla on defense Saturday against the Gamecocks. Was that on purpose? We didn't need to blitz in Jacksonville, but Bentley could've used some pressure in his face. He has the arm to hurt you. Was Kirby just thinking, "No, we can handle these guys with the basics. Let's save those sexy looks for when we might need it, whether that's the fourth quarter today or next week on the plains."
It's only Wednesday, but I'm thinking we match up really well against this Auburn team. I think we can generate as much if not more of a pass rush that Clemson did the second week of the season. Despite only managing two field goals in last season's game, Chaney's offense still had Eason throw for over 200, and Chubb had over 100 yards as well.
Kirby knows Auburn. Tucker knows Malzahn. And if nothing else, they are still Auburn. And we're Georgia.