Offense Coming Along For Tigers

Offensive coordinator Al Borges talks about the development of the offense heading into the LSU game Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.–-Since Tommy Tuberville became Auburn's head coach in 1999, the place the Tigers have struggled the most is at Arkansas. Now two consecutive wins later Auburn has temporarily put an end to the bad feelings in Fayetteville. Defense was the reason in 2003 when the Tigers won 10-3, but Saturday night it was the Auburn offense that was the difference in a 34-17 triumph.

The difference in things now and then is that Tuberville has since added offensive coordinator Al Borges to the fold. After showing last season he could get the job done in the SEC with a veteran quarterback, Borges took his show on the road for the first time in 2005 at Arkansas with a first-time road starter in Brandon Cox and the results were very impressive.

Despite getting off to a slow start with just six points in the first half, the Tigers exploded for 21 unanswered points on the way to a 28-point second half in the win. Borges says that while there were some problems at times, the results speak for themselves.

"Other than the turnovers we played one of our better games when it was all said and done," Borges says. "The first half we put our defense in some predicaments that made the game closer than it probably should have been. Nothing against Arkansas, they played as hard as they could, but we decided in the second half that we weren't going to turn the ball over and take advantage of every opportunity we could. We played like we're capable of playing.

"I thought our offensive line played as well as I thought they did," he says after watching video of the game. "We had no one that really played poorly. For the most part everyone played a B- or better game. Once Brandon got through some of the tough parts of the first half he played pretty well."

Senior receiver Devin Aromashodu is one of three current Tigers that have over 1,000 career receiving yards.

Something that has improved with each outing is the presence of Cox on the field and in the huddle. Always a confident player, the redshirt sophomore had to earn that confidence from his teammates and he's done it by playing well and also standing in the pocket and delivering the football in the face of tremendous pressure at times. Borges says that's something his teammates admire greatly about Cox.

"I just think it speaks volumes about his courage and every guy respects that, every lineman, every receiver, every defensive player," Borges says. "They respect courage. It's amazing that a quarterback takes shots while totally focused on something else. Guys are hitting him when in so many instances he's not able to protect himself. Anybody that will do that with consistency, I think, is going to gain a lot of respect and in turn that he proves indeed he's a great leader. It kind of follows."

The leadership is born out of solid play on the field and Cox has been just that despite his troubles in the first game of the season. For the year he has thrown for 1,163 yards and nine touchdowns with six interceptions. Cox has a bevy of receivers at his disposal with nine Tigers having at least six catches on the year.

At the top of the list are seniors Ben Obomanu and Devin Aromashodu, who have 19 and 14 catches respectively. Also high on the list is fellow senior Anthony Mix with eight receptions. Thought to be Auburn's best receiver coming into the year, junior Courtney Taylor has 10 catches for just 127 yards and no touchdowns while fighting through an ankle injury. Borges says that everyone has picked up their game with Taylor out and it has made for a better overall receiving corps.

"All three of them compliment each other," Borges says of Obomanu, Aromashodu and Mix. "Now that Courtney is getting back, he's full strength or close to it, we'll get him a little more involved. The last couple of games he hasn't been the real Courtney Taylor.

"We were a little concerned going into this game because they played so much press coverage and he's a good press coverage receiver. But not at 100 percent we weren't going to put him in situations where we were going to make him win the game."

Auburn will need everyone at full strength this weekend when they take on the seventh-ranked LSU Tigers in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. One of the country's most athletic and physical teams, LSU sports a defense led by a strong front four. Borges says this will be the biggest test of the season to date without a doubt.

"They're the best team we've played," Borges says. "It aint even close. This team is fast and athletic, just like they always are. They have a new defensive coordinator (Bo Pellini), but their schemes haven't changed that much. It looks a lot like (Nick) Saban's defense. A few things are different, but the fronts are the same and a lot of coverages are pretty much the same. It's new, but not totally new.

"Their noseguard (Kyle Williams) is really a good player," he adds. "I think he's the best linemen in the league. I haven't seen them all yet so I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, but that kid is really a good player. He can disrupt a lot of stuff. He's physical, he's quick, and he plays hard. If you don't block him he's going to make some plays. We found that out a year ago. He's going to present a nice challenge for us."

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