Loeffler Looking For Week 2 Improvements

Comments from Auburn's offensive coordinator are featured as the Tigers prepare for a road trip to Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--After studying video of Auburn's season-opening 26-19 loss to Clemson, Offensive Coordinator Scot Loeffler noted that the Tigers need to avoid the missed opportunities that plagued them in game one when they travel to Mississippi State this week.

Four times when the offense moved into scoring territory the Tigers came away with field goals instead of touchdowns, something the offense must improve on in its SEC opener on Saturday, Loeffler said.

After putting the offense through a full pads workout on Tuesday evening, Loeffler said that the Tigers also hurt their cause with an untimely turnover vs. Clemson.

"We pushed it all the way out to the 50--we were rolling," Loeffler said about the Tigers' early second-quarter drive that began on the one-yard line. "I thought the defense was gassed and we turned the ball back to them, which I thought was definitely a game-changing event.

"Obviously, our red area efficiency was not good," he added. "We were three for three with three field goals and should have walked away with two touchdowns. It's a combination, it's not one person when you miss an opportunity. It could be a missed block, it could be a missed idea, it could be a quarterback overshooting a receiver's depth, but those things have to change."

Despite the offensive struggles playing a major role in Auburn's first opening-game loss since 2005, Loeffler, like many of the team's players, said he sees the positive side of the first game with the offense showing it has potential to move the ball on the ground and in the air.

"The kids played hard," Loeffler said. "We were able to run the football, which we wanted to do. We were able to run the ball underneath center as well as in shotgun. We just need to make more plays.

"There were plays available out there that we didn't make and we're going to coach every single day and practice because those plays have to translate to the playing field," he added.

Two players who the offensive coordinator said stood out to him on Saturday night were first-time starters Kiehl Frazier and Avery Young.

Noting he liked Frazier's demeanor, Loeffler said, "He made a lot of mistakes, but did a lot of good things also. Our goal next week is just to keep eliminating mistakes and continue the developmental process."

Loeffler said he told Young, an 18-year-old true freshman, to "play within himself" before the game and that one player doesn't win a football game. However, he noted that the freshman made a play that helped give his team a chance to win.

Avery Young

"On the touchdown pass to Emory Blake he made a game-saving block," Loeffler said. "It was ridiculous. He made an unbelievable block. A guy came free, he peeled back and he made the play. We talk about the great pass and great route by Emory, but the right tackle made the play."

The coach noted he was disappointed the offense did not spread the ball around more to more players, but said he liked that Tre Mason rushed for 106 yards and Blake finished with more than 100 receiving yards vs. Clemson.

"There was some encouragement and confidence built that we can run the ball, but we've got to continue to eliminate these mistakes and make our plays when plays present themselves," Loeffler reiterated.

One of the players who earned praise from the offensive coordinator after Tuesday evening's practice was fullback Jay Prosch, who returned from Mobile where his mother died on Monday due to brain cancer. Her illness is what prompted Prosch to transfer to Auburn in January so he could make frequent trips home to be with his mother, which he did throughout the winter, spring and summer.

Jay Prosch

On Saturday prior to the Clemson game the fullback got bad news about his mother's health.

"He found out an hour, I believe, before we left the hotel that his mom just went in a coma," Loeffler explained. "Our guys rallied around him and our guys really care about him. Our hearts and prayers go out to that whole family.

Loeffler said Prosch went out and played well despite having a heavy heart. "That kid is a remarkable guy. He's unselfish, he's everything that Auburn wants and he'll continue to get better, too. Did he play a perfect game? No, but he's going to get better, it's important to him."

As the Tigers put in the game plan for Saturday's contest vs. Mississippi State, Loeffler said the offense has been preparing since training camp started for the noise that comes from road games in the SEC. "They're going to be loud and we have to have a plan how to handle it," he noted. "It's always a challenge walking into an opponent's backyard and dealing with the crowd noise."

Saying the first thing that jumps out to him about the Bulldogs' defense is experience, Loeffler said that senior cornerback Jonathan Banks is a game changer. "He's a very good football player and plays hard," Loeffler said. "That's the one thing I'm impressed with. He's got talent, but he plays every snap extremely hard.

"You've got to find ways to pick places to attack them, you've got to find ways to go away from them," he continued. "They have seven returning starters and I think their secondary is excellent. Their D-line is young. Linebackers are older and competitive. They will play their tails off when we go down to Starkville."

Kickoff for Saturday's contest is 11 a.m. CDT from Davis Wade Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN.

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