Auburn, Ala.--It wasn't a perfect game offensively for the Auburn Tigers Thursday night in a victory over South Carolina, but coordinator Al Borges says that after having the opportunity to sit back and watch the video of the game he's pretty pleased with his troops in the victory.
"I thought we played one of our better games offensively I really did," Borges says. "We had the six possessions and scored on four of them. We had a really good blend of run and pass. We kept them off balance. I would have liked to score more points. You always want to score more points but in terms of execution of the offense and in particular some crucial third downs, I was pretty happy with it.
"We need to get more physical. We're not as physical as we need to be. For the most part we improved and that's what I look for every game. Did we get better? I felt like we did get better."
Despite being ranked second in the SEC in rushing yards at 172.8 yards per contest, Borges feels like the Tigers still aren't as physical as they should be. While much of the blame for that will go to the offensive line, Borges says that the need to be more physical extends to the entire offense.
"Everywhere," Borges says. "On the offensive line, the wide receivers need to block better, the offensive linemen need to come off with a lower pad level. We need to be more physical to be the kind of team we want to be."
To help in that the Tigers are planning to use sophomore running back Brad Lester more in the game plan this week against Arkansas. Auburn's second leading rusher this season, Lester is averaging 5.2 yards per carry this season but has just 31 attempts. Borges says they're looking to get the speedster more involved in this week's game against Arkansas.
"The one thing we've got to do is get Brad more involved than we did a week ago," Borges says. "We've got to use him a little bit more because when he touches the ball something good tends to happen. He's got to be in there more."
Brad Lester should be more involved in the offense this week.
Last week quarterback Brandon Cox had one of his better games of the season as he threw for 180 yards and a touchdown on just 13-19 passes. Borges says that Cox continues to improve physically and that should help the passing offense improve as well.
"He played pretty good," Borges says. "He had a couple of throws like a glance route to Rod Smith that he missed. One of his problems is that because he's got one bad leg he's having trouble getting depth in the first three steps of his drop. Sometimes that reflects on how well you see down the field. Hence your ability to throw the ball through the pass rush. It has hurt him a little bit. I probably affected him on a couple of throws."
Because of his improved play the passing game was very well balanced and spread out against the Gamecocks. Nine different players caught a pass for the Tigers Thursday night and this season 15 different Auburn players have a reception. Borges says that while the current guys aren't as physically overwhelming, they're getting the job done on the outside and that continued again Thursday night.
"Nine different guys caught passes," Borges says. "People all want to say our receivers are a liability but I haven't seen that. Are they are good, no they're not as good as the kids who played there (Ben Obomanu, Devin Aromashodu, Anthony Mix) but in terms of being a liability I haven't seen that. Every ball we've thrown to Rodgeriqus Smith he's pretty much caught. I don't want to put the kiss of death on him. Courtney Taylor has been productive. We get our tight ends involved more and more each week. We've got Tommy (Tommy Trott) involved more last week and that was one of our goals."
Auburn heads into Saturday's game against Arkansas sixth in the league in turnover margin with a plus one per game. That is largely because the offense has only turned the ball over twice this season. Throw in a Robert Dunn fumbled punt and that is all of Auburn's turnovers this season. Borges says as long as that continues it will give the team a chance to be successful Saturday and throughout the year.
"The best thing we've done and I don't want to give us the kiss of death, but the best thing we've done is in five games we've turned the ball over twice," Borges says. "That's pretty good. I think we have three turnovers total. When you do that you've got a chance to win a lot of games. We've done a good job of protecting the ball I just hope it continues."