Auburn Offense Sputters In Victory

After a strong start on Saturday the Auburn offense struggled to the finish in a 28-0 victory over Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.-–It wasn't a thing of beauty, but Saturday's performance on offense for the Auburn Tigers was in a word workmanlike as they gained 320 yards of total offense on the way to a 28-0 victory over Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. While he wasn't happy with the way the team played over the long haul, offensive coordinator Al Borges said his main concern was with a lack of the killer instinct by his team in the second half.

"The second half, like I said we lost our rhythm," Borges said. "We had really good rhythm the first half. We were moving the ball really well. We were very balanced. We were throwing the ball to a lot of different guys and in the second half, some how some way, we just lost our edge a little bit. I don't know what it was, but we weren't very productive and we were getting ourselves in some bad down and distances like we did a week ago."

Carl Stewart looks for yardage behind the block of fullback Jake Slaughter.

Despite the lull the Tigers were able to cruise to a victory thanks to a stingy defense that dominated the Bulldogs from start to finish. It's a good thing because offensively Auburn again struggled to run the football as they had just 118 rushing yards on 41 attempts, an averaged of just 2.9 per play. Both Carl Stewart and Brad Lester looked good in limited action with 38 and 34 yards respectively, but Borges said it's impossible to tell who did what well until he gets a better look at the video of the game.

"This is team game and it is never the offensive line, it is never the tailback and it is never the quarterback," Borges said. "It is always everybody. You don't generally have breakdowns just because of one position. It is always an accumulation of things. Usually when you watch the tape it bears that out every time. You knee jerk after games, 'oh, well the line didn't play well, oh the backs didn't play well.' Then you watch the tape and you realize that is wasn't just the backs, it wasn't just the line. It never is."

Even though the running game struggled to be consistent, the passing game was again solid as sophomore quarterback Brandon Cox was 12-18 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He got off to a quick start hitting tight ends Cooper Wallace and Cole Bennett for big gainers in the first half, one a 33-yard touchdown to Bennett. Borges said that he thought Cox improved in his second start and he corrected what he did wrong in the opener.

"I thought today he was very solid, very solid," Borges said of Cox. "He didn't have an interception. He managed the game pretty well, He had a couple of errors, but for the most part he kept us out of trouble. Our theme for this week was this, the bad plays can't be disasters. That was our theme. If we did that we knew we were giving ourselves a great chance to win, and that is what he did. He didn't make the bad plays disasters."

For the second straight game Auburn faced a defense designed to keep the Tigers from running the football. In the opener Borges took what the defense was giving him and, while Cox had a big day, in the end the inability to run the football cost Auburn a chance at victory. This time around Auburn was determined to run the football, something Borges said was tough to do at times on Saturday.

"We weren't getting the surge that we wanted to get, and as soon as we weren't able to pass the ball as well and they played the run harder it got harder to run the ball," Borges said. "So, here is the deal man. You play two teams and both are boned up to stop the run. One you attack by throwing the heck out of the ball and you lose the game. The second you attack by trying to run to pass in the first half and run a little more in the second half, and you are not very productive in the second half. The end result is we won the game. That is good, but down the line we are going to have to be more balanced."

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