Borges Says Tigers Must Improve Balance

Auburn practiced on all phases of the game Sunday as the team gets ready to face out of conferece foe Ball State.

Auburn, Ala.–-With a win over Mississippi State in the rearview mirror, the Auburn Tigers went back to work on the practice field Sunday afternoon in shorts and shoulder pads. Working on mistakes made in a 28-0 victory, offensive coordinator Al Borges said that while the offense played better, they were far from good against the Bulldogs in the running game.

"We need to shore up some fundamental things with our running game at every position," Borges said. "We're still not well-oiled that way. We went into the game, and I think you guys probably had a pretty good feel for it, that we weren't going to put that thing in the air 44-something times.

"We were going to take some pressure off Brandon Cox and we wanted to run the football. I didn't want to take a hard-headed approach to things. I still wanted to throw it, and as it turned out he threw a couple of touchdown passes and ended up with over 200 yards passing. We wanted to make this a game that got his feet back on the ground...we made progress. We wanted to improve and we definitely improved. There is no doubt in my mind about that. We're not there yet. We've still got a lot of little things to take care of."

There was one interesting position change on Sunday as running back Tristan Davis moved back to his original position of safety for the practice. With the Tigers playing four running backs and all of them showing some bright spots, Davis' presence is needed more in the secondary at the moment. Borges said that finding a running back rotation isn't a concern at the moment, but it could be down the road.

"Right not I'm not sure we're totally ready to do that," Borges said. "At one point it could happen if someone comes to the surface as says this is the guy."

Eddie Gran looks on as Lorenzo Ferguson works against Danny Perry in a pursuit and tackle drill during special teams work Sunday.

Offensively the Tigers are coming off a game in which they threw the ball just 18 times despite constant eight and nine man fronts from Mississippi State. Borges said that after watching the video of the game he knows that he should have thrown the ball more to the wide receivers to back the Bulldog defense off the line of scrimmage, but with the game in hand the Tigers gave credence to working on running the football.

"The most important thing is that we wanted to get our run game established," Borges said. "We felt at that point it was a good time up 14 points. Let's see if we can't maul them a little bit and find out who our running backs are. Maybe we can narrow it down a little bit this game. We didn't accomplish it and that's the disappointing thing. We didn't really get any of those things accomplished.

"At the end of the day we're going to win games here with balance. That's how we're going to win them. 44 passes is too many. 18 is not enough. Somewhere in there, if we're going to win in the SEC, we're going to have to find a delicate balance whether it's 25 or 30 throws."

One player Borges was happy with in Saturday's victory was quarterback Brandon Cox. Although he didn't have a spectacular game, Borges said the sophomore was efficient in his play and made better decisions at the line of scrimmage. That is something Borges said is necessary if Auburn hopes to contend in the SEC this season.

"He had one ball in particular that could have been intercepted and probably should have been intercepted," Borges said. "It was not a good throw. I don't know that it was such a bad decision. He threw it to the right guy, I just don't think it was a particularly good throw. The goal was that the bad plays were not disasters. He accomplished the goal.

"He didn't make his bad plays disasters. He played pretty smart. We've got to be able to do those same things and increase the number of throws we make. It was only 18 last week, which is fine for now, but that may not get it. We may have to up it to 30 throws. We've got to keep the same decision-making process."

A player that wasn't at Sunday's practice was defensive tackle Pat Sims. After failing to play against Mississippi State Saturday while true freshman Sen'Derrick Marks got plenty of snaps, Sims is likely the odd-man out at the position for Auburn with back-up Neil Brown back practicing on Sunday. It is unknown at the moment whether or not he'll return to the team. Neither coach Tommy Tuberville nor position coach Don Dunn knew where Sims was.

On the injury front the Tigers are in good shape after two physical games as defensive lineman Josh Thompson (high ankle sprain) and offensive tackle Marcus McNeill (sprained knee) are the only two players that are questionable for Saturday's game against Ball State. Defensive end Stanley McClover (bruised ankle) rode a stationary bike on the side Sunday, and isn't expected to be 100 percent until later in the week. Still, coach Tommy Tuberville said he expects McClover to be ready to play if needed.

Sunday the Tigers spent a great deal of time working on breakdowns suffered in the kicking game each of the first two weeks. That includes coverage units as the players worked on pursuit and tackling drills for a large portion of the special teams minutes.

The Tigers will take Monday off before returning to practice Tuesday afternoon. Saturday's kickoff against the Cardinals is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Ball State enters the game with a 0-2 record and fell 40-31 to Bowling Green Saturday.

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