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Phillip's Lunchtime Musings, Sept. 30

Once Louisiana-Monroe has gotten its check and gone home, Auburn will look ahead to a three-game stretch that will tell a lot about the direction of this season. It starts with a dangerous trip to Kentucky. Then come back-to-back home games of tremendous significance. Arkansas visits Jordan-Hare Stadium on Oct. 16 and LSU comes to town a week later. I don't remember two bigger games back-to-back at Jordan-Hare. ...

Phillip Marshall, senior editor, AuburnUndercover.com

Auburn's coaches have done all they could to convince anyone who will listen that the Tigers will need to play well to beat Louisiana-Monroe. But players watch video. They know what should happen. The problem is, it doesn't always happen. These games usually go one of two ways: The better team runs up and down the field, scores a bunch of points and there is no drama. Or the better team plays down to the level of the underdog and you get a deadly boring game that still has no drama but also has no energy.

Rarely, you get an upset like those endured by Virginia Tech and Ole Miss earlier this season. With so much momentum after three close wins, I'd be surprised if this Auburn team doesn't play hard and take care of business. ...

A week ago, those of us who cover Auburn were writing about coach Gene Chizik calling out the offensive line for not being physical enough. The story this week has been about one of the more dominating Auburn offensive line performances in recent years in last Saturday's 35-27 victory over South Carolina.

If the men up front keep that up, Auburn will have a chance to be really special on offense. There is no scheme that can compensate for being overmatched up front. ...

Starting with preseason camp, Chizik quietly pointed out that he didn't believe the offensive line was as dominant as it should be with four senior starters. Finally, after a middling performance in 27-24 overtime victory over Clemson, he called them out in front of the team and public.

Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes was stung as much as his players were. No Auburn coach is more respected by those who play for him than Grimes. And they gave him quite a gift last Saturday.

You have to give Chizik credit for pushing the right buttons at the right time. ...

It will be interesting to see how many fans actually show up for Saturday's 11 a.m. kickoff. I suspect there will be a few thousand empty seats. There are a handful of schools that fill their stadiums for every game, regardless of the opponent. For whatever reason, despite a fan base as passionate as any, Auburn isn't one of those. ...

Until next time. ...

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