Questions Abound On Offense

Offensive coordinator Hugh Nall talks about the problems on offense and what caused Saturday night's collapse in Baton Rouge.

Auburn, Ala.--After rolling through five straight victories with an offense that seemed to be getting better, the Auburn Tigers reverted back to early season form with just 193 yards of total offense and seven points in an embarrassing loss to the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. While many things contributed to the offensive collapse, coordinator Hugh Nall said it all comes back to two things.

"I was disappointed with our fundamentals and the tempo," Nall said. "I thought we had gotten through that. That's what causes execution. The reduction in an offense is the lack of fundamentals full speed. We just did not execute at all. Short yardage, third down conversions, everything was bad numbers."

Many of the problems stemmed from a lack of blocking by the offensive line in the running game and the line and running backs in the passing game. Auburn surrendered four sacks to LSU Saturday night after giving up just one in the last four games. Nall said LSU was overloading Auburn up front and his team couldn't get the ball away fast enough to make the defense pay.

"There were a lot of times that they brought a lot of guys," Nall said. "Several times they brought more than we could pick up. They went straight man across the board and went to what we call a house blitz. They are bringing the house when we have seven blockers they are bringing eight. You have six blockers they are bringing seven. They did that some of the time, but not all of the time. We had some breakdowns."

Quarterback Jason Campbell hands off to Carnell Williams Saturday night against LSU.

Another problem Auburn faced Saturday night was falling behind an opponent. For the third time this season the Tigers failed to score first in a game and the result has been losses in all three games. Nall said that didn't cross his mind in Saturday's game and he thought they were on the verge of making some plays, but it never happened.

"I was never concerned," Nall said. "I really thought that when we started producing we could get some points on the board. We have that capability, but we're not doing what we're supposed to. I'm talking about the little things. When you really study football you study the fine, small things. That's the release of the routes, the release of the football, the hat placement on blocks or whatever it might be. I just felt like we weren't doing that early and and we never got it going."

The Tigers now have one game to get better on offense before another important SEC test against Ole Miss in two weeks at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Facing a Louisiana-Monroe team this weekend that has been torched for much of the season and has just one win, the timing would seem right for a game where the offense was opened up to work on the passing game for future contests. Nall said that's something you might see this week, but it's not a guarantee.

"I don't know," Nall said. "That's one thing we've thought about. Do you do that or do we go back and just run our offense and get better at executing our offense? We haven't decided that yet."

Whatever decision is made on the future of this offense, there is little doubt it will revolve around how well quarterback Jason Campbell plays in the passing game. With defenses continuing to stack the line of scrimmage with defenders it will take a strong game by the offensive line to make the running game successful. Against the Indians on Saturday it likely won't matter, but down the road will that be enough to earn a victory?

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