Cox Looking to Add Big Plays to Passing Game

Brandon Cox talks about what the passing game needs to do to get better.

Auburn, Ala.--There wasn't much to like out of Auburn's offense against Arkansas, especially in the passing game.

Tailbacks Kenny Irons and Brad Lester combined for 103 yards on 19 carries, but because the Tigers fell behind early Al Borges abandoned the run for the most part and the results weren't good.

"We watched (the film) and it wasn't pretty," says Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox. "We still lost. There were a couple of throws I missed and a couple of run audibles I missed. Just not a very good game."

One bright spot in the passing game on Saturday is that Cox was generally accurate with his passes, completing 17-29. However, he netted just 153 yards, averaged just nine yards per completion and 5.28 per attempt.

"We threw the ball a little more and I completed some passes and I had a few good throws, but we really didn't have that many yards," he notes. "We could have been better in the passing game."

If you figure in sacks to the numbers, which Cox had five for negative 42 yards, the Tigers averaged just 3.26 yards per pass play.

"There were a couple of times watching the film where some of the routes we had were designed for man coverage and they jump into zone and cover it up," he says. "A couple of them were coverage sacks. I know one I held the ball too long. A couple were just missed assignments for the offensive line."

The five sacks on Saturday weren't out of the norm for this year's offense. Auburn quarterbacks were sacked just 21 times last season, and have been taken down 18 times already through six games in 2006.

"Sometimes it's taking a while for guys to get open and I'm trying to hold the ball a little longer and let them get open and make a play instead of throwing the ball away," Cox says. "A couple of times I didn't have a choice and I had to take a sack, but there are some I should have thrown it away."

Cox was under constant pressure against Arkansas.

In 2005 Auburn had arguably the top offense in the league and was able to stretch the field by hitting deep routes to players like Devin Aromashodu and Anthony Mix. That simply hasn't happened in 2006.

Auburn had its chance for a deep pass on a second and short play action to Courtney Taylor, but Taylor misplayed the ball on a perfect throw. It could have cut the deficit to 24-17, but Auburn came away with no points on the drive.

Taylor is Auburn's leading receiver this season with 25 catches. However, none have been for more than 25 yards.

The Tigers are ranked eighth in the league in total offense at 331.3 yards a game and seventh in passing at 177.3 yards. With defenses starting to key on Irons, Cox says he thinks Auburn has to hit a few deep balls if the offense is able to turn things around.

"I think we need to hit some big plays throwing the ball," Cox explains. "We have to pass the ball to soften up the defense to where they're not putting eight or nine down in the box stopping the run. We really haven't done it much. I'm not sure why. The West Coast offense is short passes, high-percentage passes. I think we might have to throw it deep to soften up the defense more."

The Tigers will be facing a Florida defense on Saturday that is allowing just 259.7 yards and 9.5 points per contest. The Gators are allowing 56.8 yards on the ground and have given up just one rushing score this season so it'll likely be in Cox's hands to be successful scoring and moving the football.

"We went out on Sunday and had a good practice and everybody was upbeat," he says. "We watched the film, put it behind us, and I think everybody is focused. Like we're saying in meetings, it's good having a big game like Florida after a loss like that because it'll be easy to get back up and hopefully come out with a win and be right back up on top."

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