Despite Balanced Attack, AU Looking for More

The Auburn offense has put up strong numbers running and passing the football, but the Tigers are looking to take their performance to a higher level.

Auburn, Ala.--Balance is one of the goals for Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn offense and so far this season, according to the numbers, the Tigers are doing a good job in that department.

Averaging 262 yards on the ground and 225.8 through the air, Auburn’s offensive averages through six games are on pace to finish in the Top 10 in school history in both team categories. That is something that has never happened in the the Tigers' long and proud football history.

Currently those numbers would put the 2014 Tigers seventh in rushing yards per game, well behind last year’s school-record average of 328.3 yards per game, and eighth in passing yards, behind the 288.5 average from 1970. To put that into perspective, 2004 and 2010 were two of Auburn’s most dynamic offenses ever along with last season, but they did not come close to the balance shown so far this year.

In 2004 the Tigers averaged 237.4 yards passing per contest, good enough for fourth in school history. While that team featured NFL first-rounders Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown in the backfield, that group averaged just 183.3 yards per game on the ground. Led by Cam Newton the 2010 offense averaged 284.8 yards rushing, but just 214.4 yards passing. That was just outside the Top 10 for passing and the closest any team has come to finishing in both categories.

Senior Reese Dismukes hopes to be able to celebrate another victory on Saturday night. The All-SEC center is a fourth year starter for the Tigers.

While neither the current rushing nor passing totals are going to threaten a school record, it makes this offense as dangerous as any in school history if the Tigers can clean up the mistakes and execution problems that have plagued them at times this year. Malzahn noted that is the goal for the second half of the season.

“Balance is dictated on what they give you,” the coach said “It's not that balance is, hey we're going to be perfectly rushing yards to passing yards. That's not the way it works.

“Balance to me is taking what they give you. If they give you the pass, you have got to be able to execute it. If they give you the run, you've got to be able to execute it. I do feel better about where we are at this year than we were last year at that point, but that's what balance is to me.”

Even though the goal is balance, the first order of business for the Tigers this weekend will be to run the football and get back to being the physical offense the coaches want at Auburn. Facing a South Carolina defense that has struggled to stop the run, Auburn's offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, said to take advantage of opportunities the offense needs to make fewer mistakes.

“When you go through this league for the second year, you've got some new guys up front in the second year,” Lashlee said. “People are going to have a year to prepare for you now, there are some really good coaches, there are some really good defenses and we have got to execute better on first down to get more yards rushing. It's not rocket science.

“People are doing some good things scheme-wise, we've countered it, and we've got to be able to handle it, and execute it at a better level than they do," he added. "At times we have, at times we haven't, and that is why our (rushing) numbers are down."

The Tigers start the second half of their regular season schedule with a home game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium as the 5-1 Tigers play host to 4-3 South Carolina.

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