Tigers Struggle Offensively In Season Opener

Hugh Nall, Steve Ensminger and several offensive players discuss Auburn's problems moving the football vs. USC.

Auburn, Ala.--You might have been able to fry an egg on Hugh Nall's forehead as he answered questions about his crew's lack of success in the offensive line coach's debut as Auburn's offensive coordinator.

Asked to assess how the offense performed in a 23-0 opening day loss to Southern Cal, Nall said, "I saw a great defense kick our ass is what I saw. I saw two great defenses. I saw us turn the ball over and not establish anything in the running game. We always ended up in a third and long situation. When we did get something going we turned the ball over and you can't do that against a great defense.

"I thought they did a great job of disguising their zone blitzes and the way they were slanting in the front," Nall added. "They did a great job--a lot better than they did last year. We had trouble seeing that at times--getting out of a bad play and into a good play. They did a good job of stopping what we did."

The Tigers managed only 164 total offensive yards to 315 for the Trojans. "They were loading up box," Nall said. "Not only were they loading up the box, they were disguising how they were loading it up. They were pressing our receivers, saying you are not going to run the football. You have to throw it. We tried some of that. Once again, we weren't successful enough in getting it done.

"The bottom line is the turnovers killed us," Nall added. "I said all along I knew our defense was a really good defense. If we reserve the right to run the football we have a chance and that is what we have got to get corrected right now."

New quarterback coach Steve Ensminger said, "We still ran some in the second half. We tried pretty much everything. We ran the ball at them. We ran outside, we ran inside. We passed and dropped back. We did it all on first down and second down. Tonight was their night. They just outplayed us. You are not going to be very good facing third and longs."

Jason Campbell struggled most of the game to get into a rhythm with the passing game. He was also sacked six times by the athletic Trojan defense. "Quarterbacks are going to have their good games and bad games," Ensminger said. "I am just proud of the way he hung in there and finished the game."

Jason Campbell prepares to take a snap from Danny Lindsey.

Auburn wide receiver Courtney Taylor, who caught four passes for 43 yards in his college debut, said, "They were putting eight in the box and they were manning us (receivers) up. Our big thing is that we have to make plays for us to win because a lot of teams we play are going to stack the box. I am not sure what went wrong. I know we didn't execute and we have to go back to practice and focus on moving forward from here--not look back."

Sophomore wide receiver Ben Obomanu, who dropped a long pass from Campbell and fumbled another one to set up a USC score, said, "I feel right now some of my plays were big plays and I am a better player than that. The coaches and my teammates are doing of good job of getting me to stay positive. They need me for the rest of the season as well."

Obomanu said the Trojans didn't fool the Tigers, but definitely outplayed Auburn. "Those three turnovers we had really hurt," he said. "Our offense put the defense in some bad situations."

Center Danny Lindsey said he believes the Southern Cal defensive front is faster than last year's group. "They had a good defensive front and good linebackers who really run to the ball well. Our coaches prepared us well. We knew they were going to slant and where they were going to slant. We just didn't execute the way we were coached."

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