Auburn, Ala.--As the Tigers continue preparations for their first non-conference football game of the 2014 season, Auburn’s leader in number of games started notes that he is encouraged by what he is seeing from the defending SEC champions.
“I think this team has a lot of character,” said senior center Reese Dismukes, who helped the Tigers defeat Arkansas 45-21 on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This Saturday evening his Tigers will take on 1-0 San Jose State from the Mountain West Conference.
Dismukes said that he believes the Tigers were solid in knocking off SEC West opponent Arkansas, but wants to see the Tigers improve.
“Obviously, we have got a long way to go and there are a lot of things we have got to get corrected, but we are going to do our best to get better this week and go put a good product on the field Saturday,” said the All-SEC center whose team had its second practice of the week on Tuesday evening preparing for San Jose State.
Kickoff time for the first-ever game matching the Tigers and Spartans is 6 p.m. The contest, which is not a sellout, will be televised on ESPN2. San Jose State opened its season last Thursday with a 42-10 home victory over the University of North Dakota.
Auburn was tied 21-21 at halftime in its opener, but made the adjustments necessary to take control in the third quarter.
“Coach (Gus) Malzahn and the rest of the staff do a great job,” Dismukes said. “They tell us what we are going to do when we go back out there, what we are seeing out there and what they are probably going to do on defense. They give us a great plan and we just go out there and try to do the best we can to fulfill that plan.
“You can't do that without a great staff and Coach Malzahn and those guys, Coach (J.B.) Grimes and Coach (Rhett) Lashlee, they do a great job and you have also got the guys up in the box who are seeing it all. You have got to give those guys credit, too, because they help everything out and help everything work.
“I think it is a tribute to those guys,” said Dismukes, who has 38 starts heading into Saturday night’s game. “You need everybody in place, kind of like on offense. You need 11 guys to make everything work and it is everybody working together for one goal, and that’s to win football games.”
Lashlee, Auburn’s second-year offensive coordinator, said the blocking by Dismukes and the other guys up front was better in the second half.
Shon Coleman made his first college start vs. the Razorbacks.
“I thought the O-line got better as the game went on,” Lashlee said. “You have got guys like Shon Coleman playing his first full game in probably four years. You have got Avery Young playing his first game at right guard. Chad (Slade) has moved over to the left (guard). Pat (right tackle Patrick Miller) hasn’t played since the fourth game of last year.
“I think it probably took them a half to kind of just get comfortable again because we were smart in fall camp with our starting five O-line and they didn’t have as much live work as maybe they had in the past,” Lashlee pointed out. “I thought they graded out well, not exceptional, but obviously good enough to win.”
The Tigers finished the opener with 595 yards of total offense with 302 on the ground. Only 68 of those rushing yards came in the first half.
“We just kept pounding and pounding, and running play after play, and things just started clicking,” Dismukes said of the second half success on the ground. “That is one of the things, especially in this league, you are going to keep fighting for an inch and an inch, and then all of a sudden it is going to break loose.”
In other news and notes:
*Lashlee pointed out that tight end/H-back Brandon Fulse played well vs. Arkansas. “Overall, Brandon had a really good game,” the coach said. “I was really pleased with Brandon.
“One thing he has got to work on is just sustaining his blocks, but he made some really good blocks,” the coach added. “There are a couple that he could have maybe just been a little bit better technique and body position or finish better, but for his first game I think he graded out pretty well.”
*Auburn’s schedule includes eight teams that played in bowl games last year, but San Jose State was not one of them as the Spartans finished with a 6-6 record under their first-year head coach. Caragher replaced Mike MacIntyre, who was hired for the 2013 season by Colorado.
*The San Jose State Spartans play in the Mountain West Conference. Auburn is 3-0 vs. current members of that league with victories over Fresno State (62-0 in 1996), Wyoming (35-21 in 2000) and Utah State (42-38 in 2011).
*The Tigers will be looking to extend their school-record streak for games in which they have scored 30 or more points. The old streak was eight in 1994 and the current one is at 11 games.
*Ellis Johnson said the Auburn defense will go into game two being prepared for a more pass-oriented offense than the Tigers saw vs. Arkansas even though San Jose State ran the ball 40 times in its opener and passed 26 times.
“They had an NFL draft pick as a quarterback (David Fales) last year that just graduated,” the coach said. “I think the quarterback (Blake Jurich) they have is a very good player. It is that time of year we have got so many unknowns. Is this a new skill set and is their play selection different or were they just kind of working on a game plan for that particular game? I think we're going to have to be really prepared for the unexpected.”