While the defense did a good job of keeping the powerful USC offense in check most of the night, Auburn's offense left much to be desired. Totaling just 164 yards of offense, the unit failed to score a point for the first time in the last 44 Auburn games. Because of that, quarterback Jason Campbell said it is more important than ever to stick with what they are doing.
For the Tigers that means adjusting to what the defense gives you. Unlike offenses of the past like Nebraska and Florida that made you adjust to what they were doing, the Tiger offense depends on players and coaches finding the weaknesses in opposing defenses and getting into a better play to get positive yardage. Coach Tommy Tuberville said it's all about making them guess.
"We have to be a little bit unpredictable," Tuberville said. "That's our plan. When they think we're going to run it we'll throw it and when they think we're going to throw it we'll run it. It still depends on chance. You can scheme to stop people's run, but if you get to throwing it consistently and make them get out of that game plan then your run has a better chance to work."
"We just do things now according to what the defense does," Campbell added. "We have to change our schemes. You can't stick to the same schemes or people catch on. We try to change it up as much as possible."
Quarterback Jason Campbell is a big key to the success of Auburn's offense.
Adjusting in this day and age for the Tigers means throwing the football. With opponents stacking the line of scrimmage at every opportunity to slow down talented running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, Auburn finds itself in the situation where they have to throw the football to have success in the future. If Saturday night's play is any indication, it's something they need to work on very hard in the coming days.
"There has to be some urgency in the passing game by everybody," quarterback Coach Steve Ensminger said. "Everything has to be perfect in the passing game. Everywhere I have been you go through growing pains doing it. I felt like we would play a lot better, but you just can't point your finger and say this position was bad. You can point your finger on a play and say one person got beat or one person didn't do this. It takes 11 to win and to lose a ball game."
With opponents selling out to stop the run, the Tigers will look to establish the passing game to make them respect Campbell's ability to get the ball downfield. One problem is that it seemed like the Tigers were abandoning the running game and playing into the hands of the opposition. Tuberville said that's all part of the adjustment game.
"You have to run around them," Tuberville said. "You can't block them all. That's just basically what happens. If they put eight people up there you might have seven to block them and somebody won't get blocked. It's the running back's responsibility to make somebody miss. We have to take advantage of our running game.
"I know a lot of people question why we didn't run the ball more. You have to give your players an opportunity for success. With the speed and the strength they had the success of running the football was a lot less than throwing it."
This week the focus of the game will be on the Auburn offense and how they rebound from Saturday's embarrassing performance. In the second game of the Hugh Nall era as offensive coordinator the Tigers will try to challenge a defense that was riddled by the BYU Cougars in the passing department.
The job of getting the Tigers in the right play will be on more than just Ensminger this week as Nall will be responsible for getting the right plays ready for every series. Tuberville said that's the way it has been from the start.
"Hugh basically calls the plays between the series," Tuberville said. "He'll get on and say ‘okay Steve, we're going to do this, we're going to do this and we're going to try this. If that doesn't work we'll try something next time'. Steve is communicating plays. Hugh is the offensive coordinator and it's his responsibility. What we ran Saturday night was basically from his communication to Steve in the press box."
With a set of plays ready for each possession, Ensminger relays his play down to the sidelines for the offense to run. Hoping to get out of the huddle with no less than 18 seconds left on the play clock, the offense will again try to take advantage of what the defense is giving them. This week we'll see if it's any more room than the Trojans allowed.
"It depends on what's working," Ensminger said. "We tried at times the other night, but we were just inconsistent in the running game. We said if they were going to play this we're going to throw it. We hit some passes and we missed some opportunities on passes. We were too inconsistent. In calling plays and working with the offense you get a feel for what's working and what's not working. You got to it and hopefully it works. If not, you change and go to something else."