Photo by Jason Caldwell

Auburn Makes Red Zone Progress And Hopes to Take That On the Road Vs. Mississippi State

Auburn offensive lineman Braden Smith and the Tigers are preparing for a road trip.

Braden Smith (above) is a key player for Auburn's offense.

Auburn, Ala.--After struggling to put touchdowns on the scoreboard during the first month of the season, the  Auburn offense made progress in that area during its Homecoming victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

That is a trend the Tigers will try to continue this Saturday as they take their show on the road for the first time this season with an 11 a.m. SEC West road game at Mississippi State.

Auburn came into its 58-7 victory over Louisiana-Monroe with just seven touchdowns on 22 trips into the red zone (opposition’s 20-yard line to the goal). Against the Warhawks the Tigers scored four touchdowns on five red zone incursions.

“As an offensive unit, we took it personally,” junior guard Braden Smith said. “You’ve got to be able to punch it in from there and get touchdowns. No offense against Daniel (Carlson), but we want him kicking extra points, not field goals.”

Carlson kicked eight extra points last Saturday as the Tigers improved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. Mississippi State, which had the weekend off, is 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the league with a 27-14 victory over South Carolina and a 23-20 loss at LSU. The Bulldogs were upset 21-20 by South Alabama in the opener and won their previous game, 47-35, on the road vs. UMass.

“We just put an extra emphasis this week on working in the red zone and punching it in,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to have a mindset that we are going to get a touchdown, not a field goal.”

With starting center Xavier Dampeer held out of action vs. Louisiana-Monroe due to an ankle sprain, the Tigers moved No. 1 left tackle Austin Golson to center while Darius James started in Golson’s spot.

“I thought it did good for the circumstances of how it came about,” Smith said of the offensive line’s play on Saturday. “Darius did a great job and Austin, going to center, did his part and did really good.”

Golson is expected to move back to tackle for this week’s game and Dampeer is expected to start at center.

Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee said the Tigers will practice with loud music this week to get ready to run silent counts for their game at Mississippi State. Fans in Starkville ring cowbells in order to disrupt the opposing offenses.

“They are loud as heck,” Smith said. “That’s all I know. You just have to get past it. If we’re doing good, then the cowbells will stop. That’s the only way you can stop it, basically.”

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