Offensive Questions Numerous For Tigers

Auburn's offense has gone four consecutive games without scoring at least 20 points, the longest stretch since going five consecutive games in 1999.

Auburn, Ala.—After yet another tough offensive performance on the road at LSU, on Sunday Auburn Coach Gene Chizik said he saw some positive things from quarterback Clint Moseley in the face of constant pressure, but overall there's still plenty left to work on for Gus Malzahn's group. That falls not only at the feet of the quarterback, but every position on the offense Chizik said.

"If you really look at the big picture, it's been for various reasons," Chizik said. "You can start with some changes on the offensive line that have occurred along with some changes at the wide receiver position, which handcuffs you a little bit in what you can do in terms of throwing the ball down the field. There was nothing where we definitively said we've got to get more conservative with x, y and z to help this part of our team. We've never done that.

"Now, during the games, do we manage the games as they are needed? Yes. But again, we're not executing very well and that's not to pin anything on a position. There have been times when the offensive line has played well and the receivers have dropped balls. There have been times when the receivers are open and the offensive line hasn't done a great job combined with the tailbacks of protecting. There have been times where the tailbacks have opportunities because there are holes made and they don't make the correct cut. It's really a combination of things."

Early in the season Auburn's offense was one of the few bright spots as the defense tried to find its legs with so many young guys in key roles. The first two games the Tigers scored 83 points to pull out a pair of crazy wins in games where the defense struggled. Things have changed and changed dramatically on that side of the ball in just over a month however.

One of the things that has changed is the addition of Kiehl Frazier in the gameplan. There's no question that Frazier has brought something to the offense with his ability to run and make plays, but the Tigers have struggled to put yards and points on the board in recent weeks and that can't be disputed.

In the first 10 quarters this season Auburn scored 97 points with quarterback Barrett Trotter completing 42-62 passes for 560 yards and six touchdowns against just one interception. After a second half struggle against Clemson however the offense went downhill in a quick hurry.

In the last 22 quarters Auburn's offense has managed just 1,744 yards and scored 97 points. Passing the football the Tigers are 62-129 for 748 yards with four touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Despite playing more than twice as much football Auburn has completed just 20 more passes than early in the season

Those numbers show a dramatic drop-off in terms of production by the offense. As Chizik said it's far from just a quarterback issue as the offensive line has had injuries. Throw in injuries to Emory Blake and Trovon Reed outside and you have some serious holes to fill on an already inexperienced group. Still it makes you wonder how much impact slowing the game down with more running has had on the offense overall. Chizik said while it may appear to be the case it wasn't by design.

"No, they are not related because we have not gone conservative to aid the defense," Chizik said. "It's kind of … if you really look at the big picture, it's been for various reasons. You can start with some changes on the offensive line that have occurred along with some changes at the wide receiver position, which handcuffs you a little bit in what you can do in terms of throwing the ball down the field. There was nothing where we definitively said we've got to get more conservative with x, y and z to help this part of our team. We've never done that.

"Now, during the games, do we manage the games as they are needed? Yes. But again, we're not executing very well and that's not to pin anything on a position. There have been times when the offensive line has played well and the receivers have dropped balls. There have been times when the receivers are open and the offensive line hasn't done a great job combined with the tailbacks of protecting. There have been times where the tailbacks have opportunities because there are holes made and they don't make the correct cut. It's really a combination of things."

For his part Moseley has been solid this season, completing 18-29 passes for 265 yards and one interception. The bulk of that has been over the last six quarters against Florida and then in his first career start against LSU. Facing the number one team on the road and under pressure the entire game the sophomore completed 12-20 passes for 145 yards and an interception. Moseley said for him it was a learning experience and he feels like he'll be much better the second time around.

"I've talked to a few people since yesterday, and even before yesterday, and they're like: The biggest improvement is from your first start to your second start," Moseley said. "I don't know if that is a myth that everybody likes to say or what. Looking back, I learned a lot from yesterday, like I said, and I'll be able to apply that this weekend and thing will slow down even more. They slowed down gradually Saturday. But I do realize they could slow down a little more. I think I'll be a lot better this Saturday than I was last Saturday."

Auburn needs more than just Moseley to be better this weekend against an Ole Miss defense that is among the worst in the country. Getting a quality offensive performance no matter the competition would be huge for the Tigers heading down the home stretch this season. Chizik said the one goal this week is to not let LSU beat his team twice and that means putting the loss away and moving on to the Rebels.

"There's no concern over that," Chizik said. "One of the things we've done well over the years is we've been able to move on, been able to leave things, both good and bad. I think we've been able to take things that have been really good, not dwell on those and let's move forward because we've got the next thing. When things haven't gone well, let's shove it back, learn from it, move on and go to the next thing. I don't have a concern with that."


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