Malzahn's Tigers Wrap Up Off-Week Drills

A report on the football Tigers features news, notes and quotes as Gus Malzahn's football team prepares to turn its attention to next week's Ole Miss game.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gus Malzahn said his football team's offense is improving as the Tigers prepare for the second month of their season and one of the reasons why is improved play from the offensive line.

Reese Dismukes, a junior who is a third-year starter at center, is the leader of a group that features two juniors (Dismukes and guard Chad Slade), one redshirt sophomore (offensive tackle Greg Robinson), one true sophomore (tackle Patrick Miller) and one redshirt freshman (guard Alex Kozan).

Auburn suffered its first loss last Saturday to drop to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC play, but despite the setback in the rain on Saturday in Baton Rouge the Tigers' offensive line performed well, particularly Dismukes.

"Reese is one of our leaders up front," Malzahn said. "I really feel like for the most part our line did a solid job the other night.

"They (LSU) have got two internal guys who are phenomenal and they did a very good job against a very good defensive front seven."

Dismukes served as offensive captain vs. LSU and in the previous three games. Malzahn noted he liked the way the junior performed vs. the Bayou Bengals.

Reese Dismukes has started all 27 games he has played for the Tigers.

Asked if Dismukes played his best game of the season vs. LSU, Malzahn said, "I would probably say it is. He did a very good job."

Auburn gained 333 of its 437 total yards vs. LSU after halftime on Saturday night as the offense was able to play at a fast tempo, something the Tigers have been working on perfecting this week with no game to play until a week from Saturday when Ole Miss visits Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"When you get first downs running the football and you get your tempo going with a lot of our read stuff and the complements off of it, that is a big advantage for us," Malzahn said.

Malzahn's Tigers had their fourth and final off-week practice session on Thursday. The Tigers worked out for an hour and a half in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts.

The players will be off on Friday and Saturday while the coaching staff, with the exception of the coordinators, hits the road for recruiting duties. The team is expected to reassemble on Sunday for a practice at which they will begin installing the game plan for next week's home game vs. Ole Miss.

The start time for the Tigers vs. Rebels matchup won't be announced until Sunday. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. CDT if CBS picks up the telecast. If not the game will start at 6 p.m. with TV coverage on one of the ESPN networks.

Defensive end Dee Ford said the timing for the break in the schedule is a good for his team. "It gives us a great opportunity to get better at the things we have not been executing defensively or offensively," he said.

Ford, a senior who missed the first two games with a knee injury, said the off-week will help him personally get closer to full speed.

Sophomore offensive tackle Greg Robinson agreed with Ford that the extra week of preparation time will help the Tigers prepare for their third SEC game of the season. "We made too mistakes in the first half of the LSU game,"?he said. "We improved in the second half and we need to carry that through our bye week into the Ole Miss game. It is important for us to get better each week."

Greg Robinson

Safety Jermaine Whitehead said despite the disappointment of the loss in Baton Rouge the way the Tigers rallied in the second half is something they can build on for the second month of the season after rallying from 21 points down at halftime.

"LSU is a physical team and they are they are the No. 6 ranked team in the country for a reason," the junior said. "We were able to battle back and make some plays, too."

In other news and notes:

*Malzahn and Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze are friends who have talked football over the years. Both were also head coach at Arkansas State before taking their current jobs in the SEC.

We've had a relationship for a long time about talking football and ideas," Malzahn said. "Last year we did quite a bit, but now that we are in the same conference and all that we don't get very specific anymore when it comes to Xs and Os. We know each other pretty good."

*Four weeks into the season the Tigers do not lead any SEC team category other than being tied for the league lead in PAT kicking percentage with Cody Parkey handling the assignment. The senior has made 62 consecutive PAT attempts, which is the longest streak of any kicker in the SEC.

Cody Parkey

Parkey is 7-8 on field goals this season and has a streak of 16 consecutive makes on kicks of 45 yards or less dating back to the 2011 season. Parkey's 1.75 field goals per game is second in the league behind Joe Mansour of Kentucky, who is averaging two per contest.

*Auburn's best offensive categories in this week's SEC statistics are red zone performance and rushing. The Tigers have converted 13-14 trips into the red zone, which ties them for the league lead with Ole Miss. The Tigers are averaging 232.5 yards per contest, which trails only Missouri (270.0), Ole Miss (250.0) and Arkansas (246.0).

*With junior Tre Mason rushing for 132 yards and sophomore Sammie Coates contributing 139 receiving yards on four catches vs. LSU, the Tigers had their first duo of players to gain 100 yards rushing and receiving in a game vs. an SEC opponent since Michael Dyer (150 rushing) and Emory Blake (109 receiving) did it vs. Mississippi State in 2011.

*Auburn's best category on defense so far compared to its fellow conference members is red zone defense and. Opponents have converted 70.6 percent of their trips inside the Auburn 20-yard line into points, which is third of the league behind Kentucky's 69.2 percent and Tennessee's 70 percent.

The Tigers are fifth in fourth down defense allowing a 40.0 percent conversion rate and sixth in two categories--pass defense efficiency with a 111.57 rating and quarterback sacks with 1.5 per contest.

*Nationally the Tigers are in the Top 10 in only one category. Auburn is averaging 31.86 yards per kickoff return, which is sixth nationally and second in the SEC.

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