Chizik Talks Improvement, Coaching

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik talks about the offense, defense, special teams and coaching for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.—For the first time since late in 2009 Auburn Coach Gene Chizik faced the media on Sunday following an Auburn loss. It wasn't just any loss however as the Tigers lost 38-24 to Clemson while allowing 624 yards of total offense along the way. With questions in every phase of the game in the loss, Chizik said there's not just one thing that will be a focus this week as the Tigers get ready to face Florida Atlantic and it's the job of the coaching staff to get it done.

"We are going to spend a great deal of time this week examining every inch of offense, defense and special teams, both from a personnel standpoint and from an x's and o's standpoint in what it is we're good at and what it is we're not good at and why," Chizik said.

"We're very well aware of everything. It starts with coaching. So make sure everybody understands. These are things that start with us as coaches, period. It's that simple. Tackling? Coaching. Decision making in the kicking game? Coaching. Picking up twists? Coaching. Throwing interceptions? Coaching. I mean, I can go down the whole thing. That's what we get paid to do. So we have to do a better job of it."

One of the problems that continue to haunt the Tigers is the defense on third downs. Allowing 14-18 conversions against Clemson, Auburn's defense is now allowing opponents to convert 64 percent of the time on third down. Chizik said it's not just one thing that is causing the lapses on defense, but it's their job to get the ship righted.

"Certainly there's a plethora of reasons why we're not successful on third down defensively," Chizik said. "It's not always the same issue. Sometimes it's a missed tackle, sometimes they make a great throw and a great catch and put the ball only where it can be caught, which happened a couple of times Saturday. Sometimes it's a coverage where we should be playing man coverage and really be all over a route and we are two to three steps late. There are several reasons but it's very glaring there is a problem. It's our job as coaches to get it fixed."

Some of that can be attributed to youth as Auburn is playing one of the youngest defensive groups in the nation. While there is no question the Tigers are learning on the run Chizik said that's not acceptable any longer.

"The certain problems are going to be solved by them executing what is called, whether they are a senior or what none of that matters," Chizik said. "We are in game four now. We have no more new players, that's the bottom line. We don't even breathe that word around because that's not true anymore. Our full expectation is that we coach them better, which certainly needs to be done. And they execute it better, which needs to be done as well."

It's not just defensively where the Tigers have struggled. Offensively the Tigers are converting just 35 percent of their chances on third downs and it has kept them from sustaining drives. In turn that puts the Auburn defense back on the field more often.

One of the ways Auburn can help to remedy that is to get the ball more to sophomore running back Michael Dyer. Rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in the loss, Dyer has now rushed for 358 yards this season on just 48 carries. Averaging 7.5 yards per attempt he has been very productive and Chizik said they've got to get the ball more to the workhorse.

"I don't know that we'll put a number on it," Chizik said. "But I will say that it is our thought moving forward that he would carry the ball more than he has been. And again, I say that … that's conceptually where we're at. That doesn't mean the defense is going to let us do that. So that's the inclusion in there, that provided we get the looks we need to be able to run certain run plays, then that's part of the equation."

Redshirt freshman Ladarious Phillips and true freshman Jonathan Rose both missed the Clemson game because of a violation of team rules. Chizik said they would continue to evaluate their status this week. As for the rest of the team he said they're hungry to get better and that will begin this week. He said he saw good signs of that on Sunday at the regular team meeting.

"Very bright-eyed and very…our football team is hungry to succeed," Chizik said. "Nobody in that room feels good about the outcome of yesterday. But the great thing I love about this team is their willingness to proceed and try to improve. I mean that. I really believe that. I believe in these guys. I believe we're going to be better.

"As I said, as bad as we played at times in the game, we still had our opportunities to come back and beat a very good football team on the road. We just didn't do it. We're going back, business as usual today. Nothing's going to change. The urgency of what we do is still going to be there, and that's going to be a top priority. We're going to move forward and figure out how to be better."

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