Chizik Talks Offense Heading Into Clemson

Auburn coach Gene Chizik talks about the state of the offense as the Tigers prepare to face Clemson Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--With high scoring Clemson coming to town this weekend Auburn will likely need to score points in bunches to win Saturday which means a different mode of operation than the one employed in the win over Mississippi State Thursday night. The Tigers ran less plays and tried to eat up the clock in defeating the Bulldogs on the road in a very hostile environment. Coach Gene Chizik said it's something that you have to do from time to time and they thought that was the best idea at the time to get out of town with the win.

"I think one of the things that is good about this offense is the flexibility in the offense is there," Chizik said. "We're just trying to win games. It doesn't matter what pace we have to go at. Obviously we would like to pace people and be able to try to gain an advantage that way if the shoe fits, if it's the appropriate time and place for that.

"If you flip that there are times when you have to eat the clock and milk the clock," he added. "The ability to do both is built into the offense for whatever the scenario is to help us win. That's really what we did Thursday night. I wouldn't read into it as any premeditated tempo that we were going to try to do the whole game. A lot of it is just waiting to see how the game unfolds how we want to do it."

One of the possible reasons for the slowdown on offense was the injury to left tackle Lee Ziemba. Banged up along with running back Mario Fannin, Chizik said that definitely factored in to what they were doing on offense but it was more about the way the game was playing out than any injuries.

"You start to figure out somebody's plan after about a quarter," Chizik said. " Is their plan to be really aggressive? Is their method of operation the same as it has been in the previous four? You let the game unfold and you kind of see what their ideas are and you call it based on that. Does a guy going down at left tackle matter? Yes. Obviously that plays a part in what you're trying to do. I think the whole game the way things unfolds matters as well. At the end of the game we're trying to do the things anybody would do to win. We'll continue to do those things."

Even with the offense at a crawl in terms of speed it didn't keep the Tigers from being successful as they moved into Mississippi State territory on several occasions in the second half only to falter. Chizik said that was the most discouraging part of the game for him.

"It was really disappointing," Chizik said. "It might be some of the best field position we've had in an entire game in succession maybe since I've been here. You would hope that would translate into a couple of touchdowns somewhere and it didn't for various reasons. It was a penalty on a long run when we could have scored some points. It was a combination of things. We can't do the same thing this week and win."

Both Ziemba (knee) and Fannin (shoulder) are listed as day to day by Chizik heading into the week although it's likely both will be ready to go in some capacity by this weekend. Another player that has been injured is true freshman wide receiver Trovon Reed, Chizik noted they would like to get him involved this week if possible but it will depend on how he practices.

With Fannin being banged up freshman Michael Dyer could get more of an expanded role on offense this week. Also Eric Smith could see some time at tailback this week in practice to get him ready in case he's needed to carry the ball in the offense. Chizik said right now Dyer is really coming around in the offense and they are looking for even more from him in the coming weeks.

"I think in Mike's opening two games he's done exactly what we've asked him to," Chizik said. "One of the things I was proud of Mike about was that we counted on him at the end of the game when the game was on the line to get first downs and to run tough. Most important was to protect the ball. When we had to do those things we went with him and he did it. From a comfort level and a coaching perspective that helps. Certainly I think he's feeling more comfortable being able to do that. I think we feel comfortable continuing to work and move forward in that direction."

The continuing development of Dyer is crucial to the offense considering that quarterback Cameron Newton is Auburn's leading rusher by a large margin through two weeks. While it's not the first time that has ever happened in college football and it's currently happening at Michigan as well, Chizik said it's not something he would like to see and they're going to work on changing that as the year rolls on.

"I don't prefer it to be that way at all," Chizik said of Newton leading the rushing department. "I prefer at Auburn for our tailbacks to be the leading rushers. I say that understanding that Cameron does a lot of things just because he can make things happen. We've been really proud of him doing that don't get me wrong, but our leading rushers need to be our tailbacks. There is no question in my mind about that."

Auburn will practice Sunday night before taking the usual Monday off and returning to the field on Tuesday. As to whether or not senior linebacker Craig Stevens or freshman cornerback Jonathan Mincy would be with the team Chizik said nothing had changed and if they were out there Saturday night you would know that they had done everything asked of them.

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