Taking A Long Look At The Offense

Auburn Coach Hugh Nall talks about Auburn's offensive performance against Arkansas and the things they need to improve on.

Auburn, Ala.--After two straight physical wins, the Auburn Tigers head into the game week with Mississippi State a worn down football team. That is especially true following a long day on Saturday that included a late flight in from Fayetteville, Ark. Because of that Coach Hugh Nall said Sunday's practice was a little shorter than normal to help the players get their legs back under them and ready for the week.

"Today was more of a teaching time to go back over mistakes and introduce them to what we see out of Mississippi State," Nall said of the one-hour practice in shorts and helmets. "That's all it was. It was a step-through. We polished today and ran them a little bit. We worked the young kids some in pass rush, some of the kids that didn't get in the game yesterday. That's what today was."

Gaining under 300 yards of total offense on the day, Nall said the offense didn't do a good job of carrying out assignments like they had done against Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and Tennessee. The first-year offensive coordinator said that's something that must improve if this team hopes to make it to the next level in the SEC.

"I was impressed by Arkansas' defense," Nall said. "That was the best they've played all year. They did a great job. I was disappointed in our technique and fundamentals yesterday, but good teams playing hard will make you look bad at times.

"There were a lot of little things we could have done better and have to do better in order to win the big games on a consistent basis. By that I mean the steps, the routes, the throws, whatever it is, was not there like we want it to be and like it had been the last few weeks."

Wide receiver Anthony Mix just misses a long pass from quarterback Jason Campbell. Nall said there were several plays that were near misses for the Tigers against the Hogs.

Something that the Tigers will make a point of emphasis this week is playing four quarters of football, unlike what they've done each of the last two games. Against Tennessee the defense was the culprit although the offense didn't do their part by holding onto the football. Saturday against Arkansas the offense failed to produce in the second half. Nall said that is definitely something that must be fixed before it comes back to haunt the Tigers.

"That's definitely something we've talked about," Nall said. "We have a goal of winning every quarter. Of course we only scored three points this week, but it was more than they scored. That was the goal we had set, to make sure we win the fourth quarter.

"We have stressed that a lot more the last few weeks. That is a continued concern. We have to continue to play the last half of the game the way we have the first half. We didn't do as good a job yesterday as we need to do to win on a regular basis."

One of the factors in Auburn's lack of offense yesterday was a scaled down offensive check system, something that quarterback Jason Campbell excels in. That is especially true in the running game when the junior will change to a different play or side of the line depending on what he sees from the defense. That was hampered on Saturday by a loud Arkansas crowd, but Nall said Auburn's plan will always be to let Campbell do as much as possible at the line.

"We had very few checks going in, but there were some that the defense can cause you to check into," Nall said. "The first interception was a check and there was a problem up front not hearing the check and we turned a guy completely free. That was the problem. That was our game plan going in, but there are just some things you can't get away from.

"There are going to be situations where you have to check to be a sound offense. Otherwise you just line up in three tight ends and two backs all the time and see who's the toughest. You just can't do that all the time and win on a regular basis."

The injury situation looks good coming out of the Arkansas game with everyone expected to be ready for this weekend's match-up with Mississippi State. The most serious looking was fullback Brandon Johnson, who bruised a shoulder against the Hogs in the third quarter and never returned. He is expected to return to practice this week and should play against the Bulldogs. The same is true of cornerback Carlos Rogers, who has a smaller cast on his hand and is scheduled to have a pin removed from his thumb next week. That will allow him more mobility in the hand and puts him back on the field to face one of the SEC's top passing games.

Running back Ronnie Brown is also scheduled to return to practice this week after looking good in warm-ups before the Arkansas game. Continued treatment on Monday will follow for the junior and he should play this weekend. That is the case for junior defensive end Jay Ratliff also. Out since the Georgia Tech game because of a high ankle sprain, he should return to practice full speed this week and play on Saturday.

Kickoff for the game against Mississippi State is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and can be seen on a pay-per-view basis only.

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories