Borges Satisfied But Not Pleased

Al Borges gives his take on the 38-7 win over Buffalo.

Auburn, Ala.--It wasn't the offensive performance that Auburn fans were hoping for against the Buffalo Bulls, who were 40-plus point underdogs, but it wasn't as bad as it looked initially as the Tigers had just 10 points at halftime.

Excluding the possessions at the end of each half, the Tigers scored five touchdowns on their nine possessions, including on the opening drive on a two-yard run by Brad Lester. After Auburn took a 7-0 lead it hit a rough stretch starting with Brandon Cox throwing an interception.

"That was my fault," says offensive coordinator Al Borges. "That was a bad call. We had run a wheel route that we had shown against Washington State. They were in a wrong coverage for it. That was a bad call. I don't think he (Cox) could even see the corner come off and intercept that ball. That's not on him. That's on me."

After that it was a struggle offensively with two three-and-outs.

"We stumbled over ourselves the whole first half," Borges notes. "That was terrible. We missed a site adjustment, we lined up wrong, we let the pocket collapse on us a couple of times in protection, we did some things but we were hung over a little bit from the LSU game. They (Buffalo) were playing hard. They came to try to win the game. Once we hit our stride and we stopped shooting ourselves in the foot we started doing pretty good."

To close the first half the Tigers ran two plays, both passes to Courtney Taylor, without a timeout to 11 yards and set up a field goal. Kicker John Vaughn drilled a 46-yarder.

Auburn was up 10-0 at that point, but after some sloppy play early the coaches were not happy in halftime meetings.

"We got their attention," Borges says. "That's usually not my approach. My approach to halftime is to try to see where our problems are and take more of a cerebral approach rather than an emotional approach. I just didn't feel like we were playing quite as hard as we could have played. We slammed a few fists down and got their attention."

At that point Auburn had just 123 yards--76 rushing and 47 passing.

The first three possessions of the second half resulted in 188 yards on 19 plays with touchdown runs by Brad Lester, Tre Smith and Ben Tate.

"I would have liked to have been a little better oiled machine in the first half of the game," Borges notes. "I don't think we were. In the second half I was very pleased with the way the kids recovered. I thought they played real hard and came out and took care of their technique and all of the little things. Once we did that we were back to where we should be."

With Cox a bit beat up after last week's fight against LSU Borges says that the game plan was to try to keep him healthy by not throwing much and to wear down the Buffalo defense. Even though the Tigers scored just 38 points the offense accomplished what it set out to do. Cox threw just 10 passes, completing six for 134 yards.

"There is nothing more demoralizing for a defense than to have the ball run on them," Borges says. "We're going to chip at that rock even though maybe it's not everything we want it to be at the beginning of the game, we're going to keep chipping away and hope the rock finally breaks. I don't know if they were worn down or not but we got our rhythm going.

"In this game our goal was to keep (Cox) from getting hit as much as we could," Borges adds. "He's still a little gimpy. We did not throw the ball. Our plan was to run the heck out of the ball and really try to more than we ever would in most games."


Ben Tate scoring on a 28-yard run late in the game.

Starting tailback Lester, who filled in for an injured Kenny Irons, carried the ball 18 times for 83 yards. Freshman Ben Tate got seven carries late in the game and came through with 114 yards and the final two scores. Senior Tre Smith also carried eight times for 57 yards. As a team the Tigers had 36 carries for 261 yards and 414 total offense.

It might not have been the offensive performance that fans were hoping for an expecting, but more importantly Borges got just what he wanted out of the 38-7 victory.

"After the second half I feel much better than I did after the first half," he notes. "I still think we have a ways to go. We still need to make some plays and we need to improve our first down productivity. We're still inconsistent there. Our third down conversions, we've gotten better and I feel better about that. There are certain areas of our game that have improved and certain areas we need to get better. Some phase of our game every week has gotten a little bit better. That's good and that's all you ask for. Now we just have to put the whole thing together."


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