Auburn, Ala.—Leaving the field Saturday after Auburn's 7-3 victory over LSU, guard Tim Duckworth wasn't a happy man. That was because the offense failed to produce points and yards against a LSU defense that was one of the best they'll see all season. After having a chance to look back on the game once again coach Hugh Nall says that while LSU's defense more than showed its metal, he wasn't at all pleased with the performance of his line.
"It looked like number one that was a great defense," Nall says. "I was really impressed with their front seven. I think they are as good as we've seen in a long time. The biggest disappointment I had was turning people free. Two of the sacks we didn't even block the guy, and that's my fault. These kids want to block people and want to know who to block. You turn somebody completely free, both of them on screen plays, that just can't happen."
Tim Duckworth celebrates Auburn's only touchdown in Saturday's game against LSU.
The main beneficiary of Auburn's play up front was defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. Dominant all day, he was in the backfield several times just after the ball was snapped to disrupt the play. Nall says that some communication problems up front caused Dorsey to be left untouched several times and that's not what he expects to see out of his veteran interior linemen.
"72 was really good," Nall says. "Once again I'm disappointed that we turned him loose really three times of four times. One we had a guy blocking and he didn't get there quick enough. Two other times we just turned him completely free. You can't do that against great people.
"We had a check and it wasn't communicated across the board well enough," Nall says. "That's my fault. I thought we played hard. Once again at the point of attack they got after us needless to say. We came back and challenged them at halftime. I thought we responded. The first drive of the second half was good football. We took it down and I like what we did on the goal line. It was physical and tough. Thank God that's what we needed."
This week the Tigers have gone back to the drawing board up front to work on the basics. That's normally something the team does several times a season just to brush up on the techniques needed at their positions but for the offensive line it's about production. Nall says that's something that the offensive line hasn't done well and it showed up with so many missed assignments against mostly basic defensive alignments.
"It surprised me big time," Nall says. "Going back on it, I spent too much time working on certain things that I thought were going to happen and maybe no more things in general. I think I spent too much time emphasizing the blitz. For the most part those mistakes were on some base stuff."
Two years ago some of the same sentiment came from Nall and the offensive line following a 10-9 win over LSU that was a struggle for the offense. Although the offense gained more yards that day the frustration was still very evident. The next week things didn't look a great deal better in an easy win over The Citadel but that game set the tone for the rest of the season on offense. Nall says this year has the makings of the same situation but there's a lot of work to be done before this team can turn the corner like it did in 2004.
"It was very similar," Nall says. "I thought at the time we were further along as an offensive line then than we are now. I was really upset Saturday and disappointed, more with turning people free. You just can't not get a hat on somebody. There were four sacks and two of them were totally uncalled for."
For Duckworth the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Although happy with the victory, the senior says he wants to see more out of the offensive line and that begins this week against Buffalo.
"It's all determined by how we come out and play in this next game," Duckworth says. "If we really want it as bad as they've said? Everybody thinks that we can do it. If we come out and prove to them that we can bounce back from two games where we didn't run the ball as good as we're supposed to and come back and demolish people, that will let them know we mean business."