Slade and Offense Seeking Improvement

Auburn OL Chad Slade talks about rallying behind Kiehl Frazier, the play of the offense, and getting ready for ULM.

Auburn, Ala.—After what many considered a solid first outing in a loss to Clemson despite struggling in the red zone, Auburn's offense hit the skids last Saturday against Mississippi State. Struggling until the game was out of hand in the fourth quarter, the Tigers managed just 90 yards of total offense the first three quarters.

While much of the blame has gone to sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier, coach Gene Chizik and coordinator Scot Loeffler both said there was more to the problems than just at that position. Sophomore offensive guard Chad Slade agreed, saying it's up to everyone on the offense to get the job done.

"We don't listen to the outside world," Slade said. "I told Kiehl we're always going to have his back, no matter what anybody says, we're going to rally together with him. So they can say whatever they want to say to him, but I now as an offense we're going to support Kiehl. We could have blocked better for Kiehl, we could have run the ball better for Kiehl, we could have done everything better. It's a team effort. It shouldn't all be on Kiehl."

Even though the offensive players have rallied around Frazier since Saturday, the young quarterback has attempted to shoulder much of the blame for the problems on that side of the ball. Slade said he knows that his quarterback is hurting, but that only makes them want to play harder for him.

"I believe he took it hard on himself, but that's how a leader is," Slade said. "He wants to put all the blame on him. But if we limited our mistakes, I believe Kiehl would have had a better game. It's 11 people out there, it's always together. We all came out with a loss."

As one of the experienced offensive linemen, although still just a redshirt sophomore, Slade himself was one of the few players that got some positive comments from the coaching staff with Loeffler saying both he and Greg Robinson did some good things against the Bulldogs. While he said it was nice to get some good feedback, Slade knows the offense and in particular the line has a long way to go.

"We didn't go out there doing the things that we worked on," Slade said. "We still have a lot to improve on. I believe we're going to go this weekend all out no matter what.

"I believe we need to communicate more," he added. "We have all the physical needs; as a group, we're all in, and we're going to rally together as a group. Our communication will be better this weekend."

That is a must for Slade and the front five as the Tigers will face a Louisiana-Monroe defense that brings something different to the table. Using a 3-3-5 alignment that relies on movement and speed, Slade said being able to recognize them and communicate up front is a must to get the job done against the Warhawks.

"They're a move-around defense," Slade said. "They're never in one spot. The linebackers are always moving around. We have to make sure we ID that right linebacker before we snap the ball. We have to make the calls and get to the right people. We'll go get extra film in because it's a hard defense, but once you keep looking at it, it gets a lot easier.

"It's a lot more communication," he added. "They may get into an even front, but usually it's nothing but odd. If we get the communication right we'll be good Saturday."

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