Those are two things that Auburn's offense spent extra time on during the bye week as the Tigers prepare to face No. 24 Ole Miss on Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium. With two potent offenses facing off, the need to execute at a high level is a big one for Rhett Lashlee's offense and he said it starts with being able to put together drives.
"It goes back to first downs," Lashlee said. "We're towards the bottom (of the SEC rankings) in first downs. That is not normal for us, we're normally one of the top teams in first downs, and that is just been a byproduct of hey, we'll have a great drive where we go 88 to win a game, we'll go 90-something one time. Against LSU I think we went 88 and 94 and then you will have two other drives back-to-back where it's three-and-out, or four-and-out, six-and-out or whatever. It's just the inconsistency.
"When you're inconsistent you never get in a rhythm as an offense, as a team and your number of plays go down. If your number of plays go down, your tempo goes down. Those numbers aren't where we want them to be, we know that. The bottom line is we've found a way to win three games and that i a big positive so we feel like as we keep going forward if we can continue to develop and become a consistent, disciplined offense, then we can obviously win more football games and those numbers will obviously go up."
Rhett Lashlee is in his first season as Auburn's offensive coordinator and coach of the quarterbacks.
Finding a rhythm in the passing game is something that has happened in the second half of games this season as Marshall has put together some impressive performances in the final 30 minutes. Settling in and getting a feel for the competition has been important as Marshall has completed 34-51 passes in the second half for 485 yards.
If Auburn can find a way to get Marshall into the flow of the game earlier it could mean even bigger numbers for the Tigers moving forward and get the offense into the pace Malzahn and Lashlee have been searching for.
After going very slow the first two weeks in wins over Washington State and Arkansas State, the Auburn offense has found a way to increase the pace the last two games in spurts. Against the Bulldogs it didn't really show up until the two-minute offense hit the field late in the win. In the loss to LSU the speed of the offense hit its stride in the second half for the first time this season. Running a season-high 85 plays against the Bengal Tigers, Lashlee said it goes back to consistency and eliminating mistakes.
"Sometimes if you don't get that first first down it makes it really hard to get your tempo going," Lashlee noted. "At times we've done that in spurts and we've looked a little bit of a glimpse of what we want to be and at times we've been exactly what we've been, very inconsistent."