Improving In All Phases Of The Game Is AU's Goal

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about his team following Saturday's 31-7 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge.

Auburn, Ala.--Following last night's disappointing loss to the LSU Tigers on the road in Baton Rouge, the Auburn Tigers spent much of Sunday watching film to see the mistakes made in the 31-7 loss. Instead of practicing the day was spent in position meetings and team meetings and Coach Tommy Tuberville said they have a lot of work to do in the week leading up to Saturday's homecoming game against Louisiana-Monroe particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

"They lined up last night and decided they were going to stop the run," Tuberville said. "Obviously the last few weeks we've done pretty good at that. They forced us to throw the ball. We made some plays and we didn't make some plays. The problem we've had offensively is being consistent when we have to throw the ball. Last night was a good defense and they gave us some bad plays on first down. First down was a big play for us all of the games that we've lost and all the games that we've won. We didn't do much on offense last night."

One of the main areas of concern for the Tigers continues to be in the passing game where quarterback Jason Campbell still has problems getting the ball downfield to receivers for big plays. Saturday night he completed 19 passes, but just six went for more than 10 yards. Most of those came on shorter passes where the receiver ran for extra yardage. Tuberville said they have to work on getting the ball deeper down the field to move some defenders out of the box against the running game.

"You have to work on it all, but we have to improve throwing the ball," Tuberville said. "We were a step away on a couple of plays of getting the ball deeper down field. We have some guys open on some deep routes. We throw a screen to Carnell (Carnell Williams) and he's a half-step from getting 15 yards, a guy just grabs his leg. It was little things that we have to work on technique. Most of Jason's reads were good. He didn't grade as well as he has in past weeks, but most of that had to do with the rush. They were getting to him pretty quick."

Devin Aromashodu goes up for a pass from quarterback Jason Campbell, one of Auburn's near misses in the passing game Saturday night.

Defensively the concern is at the safety position where the combination of Karibi Dede and Will Herring struggled to make tackles in the middle of the field against the LSU running game and consistently left receivers open for easy catches on passing downs. Tuberville said that Junior Rosegreen would likely make the move back to safety full time this week to allow the veteran to play his more natural position. That would put walk-on Kevin Hobbs into the starting lineup at cornerback, something Tuberville said he's comfortable with.

"I think that Hobbs has come along far enough now that we can probably put him at corner and just leave him there," Tuberville said. "He played about 20 plays last night and really played good.

Tuberville said that's probably the best option for the defense in the long run. "In the long run it is because of the way Hobbs is playing," Tuberville said. "If Hobbs doesn't come along we don't have anybody else to put there. If he will keep getting better we will be a better defense with Junior at safety and Hobbs at corner."

Special teams has been a solid part of Auburn's play this season, but not spectacular. That solid play went South against LSU as Auburn gave up two big returns on punts by Skylar Green and Auburn return man Tre Smith fumbled two punts to give LSU great field position. Tuberville said they will look at some changes this week on all of the special teams, but Smith will still be the first option deep on punts.

"We've got some other guys we'll look at back there, but he's the best we've got," Tuberville said of Smith. "I've got a lot of confidence in him. I didn't have any problems putting him back out there other than the fact that I didn't want him to lose all of his confidence. He seemed to control himself a little bit and get a little bit better as the game went on.

"We've got to look at some of our other guys on the punt return team, blocking and things like that. On field goals, you have to make a 35-yarder. We'll just keep going through the roster until we find somebody that will make one. We try not to put a lot of starters on the special teams, but going into these last four games we might have to take some of the guys we've taken off and put them back on special teams. I hate to do that, but these last four games it's important that we play good on special teams.

While Philip Yost will remain Auburn's kicker heading into this week, Tuberville said it's not out of the question that punter Kody Bliss will get a look this week in practice kicking field goals. The second-team kickoff man for the Tigers and a field goal kicker by trade in addition to his punting duties, Bliss may get a look this week to see what he can do.

On the injury front wide receiver Courtney Taylor sprained his neck Saturday night against LSU and only played about 10 plays in the game. Tuberville said he will be held out of contact work until later this week, but will play Saturday. Defensive end Doug Langenfeld will not play Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe because of a sprained ankle, but Tuberville said they are shooting for a return the next week against Ole Miss. Some good news is that Marcus McNeill, Ronnie Brown and Jay Ratliff all played and were fine on Sunday with little soreness. Kickoff for Saturday's homecoming game is scheduled for 1:30 and there is no television.

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