Sean White (above) is shown in action vs. Texas A&M.
Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said on Wednesday night that he liked the “energy” he saw in practice from the Tigers as they continue preparations for Saturday evening’s SEC home game vs. LSU, an opponent that features a strong defense.
"Our guys have had, particularly today, we threw and caught the ball well," Lashlee said. "I thought we had a good day. We bounced around, flew around. The energy has been really good at practice.
"Our guys have a great character and resilience. We just have to push through and get over the top. I haven't felt our guys really worrying about last year, other than we need to go win a game."
Lashlee made the comments after the Tigers worked out for two hours in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets on a warm evening, the type of weather forecast for Saturday’s 5 p.m. CDT contest vs. LSU.
Auburn is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 29-16 loss to Texas A&M in which starting quarterback Sean White was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of John Franklin.
“I did not think Sean played poorly at all,” said Lashlee, who is also the quarterbacks coach. “He started off very well. There were a couple of throws he would like to have back in terms of finishing a drive.
“If you look at the first three games really the thing that stands out is we have just been in way too many third and longs. The reason for that is pretty easy. If you look at each drive, the ones we stay on schedule, and what I mean by that is we don't get behind the chains, we usually have pretty productive drives.
“Whether it's the first play of the drive or even as the drive starts going, something happens to knock us back, we usually find ourselves in a third and longer situation than we need to be in,” he pointed out.
“We have actually been pretty productive less than 10 (yards to go for a first down),” Lashlee said. “Not like out of this world, but very solid. We have had a lot of third and longs and it doesn't matter what you're doing, you're not going to convert a lot of those. I think Sean's done a nice job. We've got to do some things to help him out.
“John got in there and we just needed to try to have a spark,” Lashlee said of the backup QB. “I thought he made some plays and was a good spark, but there are some things he needs to continue to play so the instincts kick in and get better.”
Wide receiver Darius Slayton said that he thought White didn’t pout after being benched in the fourth quarter of the Texas A&M game.
“I think he handled it really well Saturday during the game whenever they told him he was going to get pulled,” Slayton said. “He didn’t get down. He didn’t mope or anything. He was right on the sidelines cheering John on. I feel he will handle it well from this point forward.”
Darius Slayton is a redshirt freshman from Greater Atlanta Christian, where he was also a standout in track.
Slayton sat out during his freshman year during the 2015 as a redshirt. “I think it did help me develop everything, but I hate to los,”?he said. “Being redshirted last year, knowing I wasn't going to be able to help my team win, it stung. You feel helpless because you can’t help your team benefit in any way, but I feel like the year helped me develop physically, and mentally prepare myself for the game. I'm grateful.”
Asked about Slayton and the other freshmen receivers, Lashlee said, “They’re doing well. Sometimes you can hit a wall because you go through summer. Now everybody brings their guys in in the summer, which didn’t used to happen as much so they’ve been here most of the summer, and then they go through fall camp.
“And fall camp, if you haven’t been in college before, is like a season almost, mentally, as far as a high school kids go so some guys at some point, they kind of hit a wall. You got to push through that wall, but we’re going to keep playing those guys. I think they’re all doing a nice job. We have just got to continue to give them their opportunities and increase their opportunities.”
Giving his take on Slayton, Lashlee said, “I think Darius has done well. When we have thrown the ball to him he has made plays. He has done a good job playing without the ball. He has tried to play well and play tough and smart, and I think he has been a very steady player for us so he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing, and when his number is called, keep making plays.”
Lashlee noted that the Auburn offense will be matching up against another athletic LSU defense on Saturday.
“As always they are extremely athletic, as athletic as anybody, not only in our league, but in the country,” he said. “They have got some really, really good players. Good guys inside (to defend) the run.
“Obviously, they’ve got a great pass rusher, two really good linebackers,” Lashlee said. “They have one of the better defensive backs in our league, the (Tre'Davious) White kid, but he is not the only one. They are really solid on the back end.”
Last season current Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was in charge of LSU’s defense. Former Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is now calling the defensive shots in Baton Rouge.
“Their schemes changed a little bit,” Lashlee said. “We know Dave. We had a good one with him in the Outback Bowl two years ago. They are playing really well right now.
“It probably helps both sides,” Lashlee added. “They're watching it. We're watching it. There's some familiarity there. I'm sure there will be carryover. I'm sure there will be changes. That was a good game. I think we both had some success at different times in the game.
“It's kind of like in our league, the same DC (defensive coordinator) stays for three, four and five years, and we stay, so people get used to everybody. There will be some things that are different and he's got different personnel so he's playing to the strengths of his personnel. He's been successful for a reason so there has been a lot of carryover.”
In other news and notes:
*Auburn Network radio coverage of Saturday’s game can be heard on Sirius Channel 113 and XM 205 with Rod Bramblett, Stan White, Ronnie Brown, Paul Ellen and Andy Burcham proving the coverage.
*The game will also be on the Touchdown Radio Network with Taylor Zarzour doing the play-by-play with Gino Torretta as the analyst.
*Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN with Mark Jones doing the play-by-play with Rod Gilmore as the analyst and Quint Kessenich as the sideline reporter.
*Les Miles can tie the LSU record of 65 SEC coaching victories held by Charles McClendon. Miles has eight wins in 11 games vs Auburn. His victory total is the most for an LSU coach vs. Auburn. McClendon, who was 4-0 in games vs. AU, is No. 2 in LSU wins vs. Auburn.
Les Miles in his 12th season as LSU's head coach.
*LSU junior running back Leonard Fournette has rushed for 100 yards in 10 SEC games and 17 overall. The Bayou Bengals are 9-1 in those SEC contests and 14-3 overall in games he reaches the century mark.
*Miles is 57-7 as LSU’s head coach when his team has a 100-yard rusher, including a 4-0 mark in games vs. Auburn.
*Going into game four LSU has yet to allow a point in the first quarter this season. LSU opened with a 16-14 loss to Wisconsin before defeating Jacksonville State 34-13 and last week holding off Mississippi State for a 23-20 win.
*The home team has won 14 of the last 16 Auburn vs. LSU matchups.