Offensive Woes To Get A Good Look

Auburn's offense struggled to find a rhythm against USC, something Coach Tommy Tuberville said hurt his unit.

Auburn, Ala.--Saturday's offensive performance against the USC Trojans left much to be desired if you are an Auburn Tiger.

Running 62 offensive plays, Auburn netted just 164 total yards, an average of just 2.6 yards per play. While 36 of the plays were runs, only 20 went to the combo of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. That is something that Coach Tommy Tuberville said he hopes he won't have to see again anytime soon.

"We want 40 or 45," Tuberville said of the ideal number of combined carries out of Williams and Brown. "That's been our whole mindset. That's where our bread and butter is, but you have to be able to throw the ball when they don't give you a chance to run it. There were times when they said you are going to have to throw it and see if you can get it off. When we did throw we either had to rush it or couldn't get it off."

Fullback Brandon Johnson is a key part of the Auburn offense.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of Saturday's offensive plan was the lack of work by senior fullback Brandon Johnson. Often a difference-maker for the Tigers on offense with his blocking and aggressive attitude, Johnson several times fought a losing battle against the Trojans with more than one defender in the backfield quickly after the ball was snapped. Playing 27 of the 62 offensive plays vs. the Trojans, Johnson's number of snaps was about what the coaching staff wanted coming into the game.

"We said 30 plays for a fullback," Tuberville said. "We're going to be a two tight end, one back team, too. We did a lot of that. That's having a guy move back and forth like a fullback, but what that does is it gives you different personnel to where they don't know how you're going to play it whether it's two tight ends on the line. What you're trying to do is trying to confuse them.

"It makes you balance you're defense up," Tuberville added. "When you have seven guys on your offensive line instead of six with a fullback in the backfield it makes you call your hand on the defensive side, it makes you balance up. When you overload, then you go the other way. That's what you try to do is call their hand. When you put two backs in the backfield they can overload both sides. It gives them a definite advantage."

That advantage can be negated by a capable passing game, something that wasn't evident for the Tigers either. Under pressure for much of the game, junior quarterback Jason Campbell completed just 12-26 passes for 121 yards and was sacked six times. Included in those numbers were several drops that could have put the Tigers in good position to get on the scoreboard. Tuberville said that his team has to be able to throw the ball downfield in the future to avoid a repeat of Saturday night.

"We couldn't get time to throw a five-yard out route, much less get it downfield," Tuberville said. "Jason took a pretty good beating. They were all over him. I can't remember too many times when he didn't have somebody hitting him either before or after he threw the football. It was a tough day for him.

"We're going to sit down with the offense and watch it and explain to some of those guys why they have to be more mentally tough and more physical at the line of scrimmage," Tuberville added. "The way people play us and the way they played us yesterday is going to force us to throw the ball. You can't expect to run the football against eight and nine guys at the line of scrimmage every down. You just can't do it. You have to be able to open it up. It was a little bit discouraging that we weren't able to get the ball downfield a little bit more. It gives us something to work on."

The Tigers will begin that work on Monday afternoon after taking Sunday off. Saturday's kickoff at Georgia Tech is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CDT and the game can be seen on ABC television.


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