Missed Opportunities Haunt Auburn Offense

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee talks about the play of his offense in the loss to FSU and why Nick Marshall is his guy.

Pasadena, Calif.--For Auburn's offense it was a game of almost in a 34-31 loss to Florida State in the BCS Championship Game in the Rose Bowl. Despite rolling up 449 yards of total offense, including 232 yards on the ground, the Tigers came up just short and missed some key opportunities to put the game away early against the top-ranked Seminoles on Monday night. Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said for him the game had plenty of good, but just not good enough.

"Obviously we're disappointed," Lashlee said. "We had a chance to put them away a bunch of times and tried to get some separation, but we never did. You can't do that against good teams. It was a credit to them, they came back and fought and found a way to win. Our guys kept fighting and I'm really proud of them. When you have chances to put them away you have to. Someone had to lose.

"Offense, defense, special teams, we'll all have things we wish we would have done different and plays you wish you would have made," Lashlee added. "At the same time we had a lot of guys step up and make a lot of big plays. It was a great game back and forth. We had plenty of opportunities ourselves to win it and leave no doubt and we didn't do it. It hurts, but I'm really, really proud of our guys."

Leading the way once again for the Tigers was junior running back Tre Mason. Pounding out 195 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries to move ahead of Bo Jackson for the top single-season rushing mark in Auburn history with 1,816, Mason also set the mark for all-purpose yardage with 2,374. It was a fitting end to one of the top seasons in school history for an Auburn running back and Lashlee said once again the entire offense gets the credit.

"Tre ran hard," Lashlee said. "Obviously he got some good blocks that led to some big plays, but that last run he made was great. He found a crease and then finished the run. At one time it looked like it was going to be the one that won it. He played great. Our whole team did a lot of great things. If you look at the stat sheet you would think we won the game, but we didn't. That's why the scoreboard is all that matters."

Tre Mason

It was an up and down night for quarterback Nick Marshall as he completed 14-27 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Adding 45 yards rushing on a night when the Seminoles were determined to take away the outside game, Marshall once again drove the Tigers down the field when his team needed him and that spoke volumes to Lashlee.

"I'm really proud of Nick," Lashlee said. "I thought Nick played great tonight. The one interception he would like to have back. It was probably a little late and the ball slipped out of his hand too. I probably put him in a bad position too, but he made some really good throws. They were trying to make him hand it and not let him get on the perimeter as much. He still got free for some and made a great touchdown run.

"He definitely played good enough for us to win. There are a few throws he would probably like to make that we didn't and we'll keep getting better. The progress he made from game one to now has been great. I'm really glad he's coming back next year. He's got another year and there is nobody in the country I would rather have to be our quarterback than number 14."

With Jay Prosch the only senior on offense and losing several key players off the defense, Auburn is poised for bigger and better things down the road with Malzahn running the ship. While the loss in the Rose Bowl will sting for a long time for this team, Lashlee said it's the kind of night that only makes you want to work even harder.

"I think the future is bright," Lashlee said. "You hate it for the seniors to go out this way, but what they did to get us to this point this year really propels us to where we want the program to go. When you lose a game like this and get so close it hurts, but it also really motivates you to get back. It won't be easy, but I know we'll be really motivated. We've got a young football team. We had one senior on offense and a couple on defense. We'll be really motivated this offseason to try to get back next year."

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