Tuberville Stresses Improvement In Passing Game

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Auburn's needs this week and the challenge down the road for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Following two days off after Saturday night's 31-7 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, the Auburn Tigers will return to the practice field on Tuesday with the mindset of improving in all areas of the game. Coach Tommy Tuberville said that after watching the film again from the LSU game the consensus was pretty simple as to why the game was out of hand early and stayed the way.

"We didn't play very well," Tuberville said. "We didn't execute. We put together one 14-play drive and we came up with zero points. You have to be able to get a least three in that situation. Defensively that's one of the worst games we've played. We didn't tackle very well and we probably pressed too much. We had guys that probably tried to do more than their share of technique and fundamentals on defense and it kind of got us into a bind."

The first and most important thing the Tigers will concentrate on offensively is passing the football. While quarterback Jason Campbell has been solid this season completing passes underneath and not making mistakes, Auburn hasn't been able to consistently make the big play and defenses have responded by stacking the line of scrimmage to stop Carnell Williams and the run. Tuberville said that is something that must change the last four games of the season if the Tigers hope to finish with a flurry.

"We have to come up with some answer to that, which we started on even before last week," Tuberville said. "I think that's what people will do when you run the football. We have to become a better passing team. We have to get the ball more downfield. The big thing you have to do is you can't get away from what you do best. If you want either one of them you would rather have a better running game and keep your defense off the field."

This near miss by Anthony Mix is the type of play the Tigers must make down the stretch to achieve their goal of playing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.

Something that has become noticeable this season is Campbell's pre-snap rocking motion on certain plays. Tuberville said that is just a matter of Campbell's size and style of quarterbacking and isn't something they feel is tipping the defense off to give them an ideal of what type of play is coming.

"That's just his technique," Tuberville said of Campbell. "He has a lot of arm bend and when he comes out he continues to press on the center and gets the snap fine. We've looked at that to see if there's any tendency to run or pass and there's not. There's not anything that you can really tip to the other team to be able to keep us from executing the play."

Defensively Tuberville said to expect to see more players in the secondary this week as the Tigers get ready for match-ups with pass-happy Ole Miss and Georgia down the road. That likely means Kevin Hobbs, Montae Pitts and Lamel Ages will all get some work at cornerback to provide added depth down the line. It's also a probable signal that Junior Rosegreen will get a move back to his natural position of safety beginning with Tuesday's practice.

The special teams were anything but Saturday night as they had a sub-par night in just about every phase of the game. The most glaring display was by sophomore punt returner Tre Smith. A solid player for much of the season, Smith fumbled twice against Mississippi State and twice more against LSU Saturday night. Despite the recent rash of turnovers, Tuberville said Smith is still the man on punts for the time being.

"We always work Silas Daniels and Carnell, but I have all the confidence in Tre," Tuberville said. "Tre is one of those that doesn't like to fair catch. I think Saturday night he learned the hard way the importance of sometimes making the decision to stick your hand up and not worrying about someone slapping the ball out. He had done well for us up to that point and unfortunately it happened in that situation. We have to give him some help too with guys blocking better. We have to give him more time."

Auburn now turns its attention away from the LSU game and onto a Louisiana-Monroe team that has won just one game this season. While that usually signals a team ripe for a letdown and a sloppy game, Tuberville said he doesn't expect that from his team with what's waiting for them down the road.

"We had good meetings Sunday and they understand the situation now," Tuberville said. "We had an opportunity to get one leg up and we failed to do that. We still have opportunities. We have three of our final games at home out of four. That's a big advantage for us and we need to take advantage of that to the fullest."


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