Auburn, Ala.--Since Auburn's 27-10 loss to Arkansas four games ago, the offense, with the exception of red zone touchdowns, has started to turn the corner and resemble Al Borges' unit of the past two years that led the SEC in scoring.
The Tigers ran for just 60 yards and had 153 more through the air against the Razorbacks, but have moved the ball up and down the field against Florida, Tulane and Ole Miss in recent weeks for an average of 391.7 yards per game.
The reason for the big turnaround could be pointed toward the play of the offensive line.
"In the three years I've been here, that is by far the best pass protection we have had in a game, beginning to end," Borges says of the 23-17 win over the Rebels. "The quarterback was hardly touched. One time on the naked bootleg he got hit, which will happen on the naked bootleg. Our offensive line just did a great job of protecting the quarterback."
Since the Arkansas disaster on Oct. 7, the line has paved the way for an average of 176 yards on the ground and 215.7 in the passing game. Also, since the second quarter against Florida, quarterback Brandon Cox has not been sacked.
"It's no mystery that because we've been able to run the ball better our sack totals have gone down," Borges explains. "That's the way it is a lot of times. When they're packing the box there with eight guys, and sometimes seven in your one-back looks, and every time your quarterback reaches to hand the ball to the back and pulls the ball out and everybody is till jumping up there on the run, it helps your pass protection considerably. Because we've executed better in a lot of phases, it has helped that."
With left tackle King Dunlap being named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Tulane game, Borges says that he has also seen improvement out of his right tackle and tight ends Tommy Trott and Gabe McKenzie.
"I thought Jonathan Palmer had one of his better blocking games," Borges says. "I think he did and both of our tight ends. When you consider they're both freshmen, I think they've done a heck of a job. We've used double tight ends this year more than we ever have. That's because I believe both of those kids deserve to be in the game.
"Since we have played Arkansas, we have become a better offensive football team every week," Borges adds. "I am not satisfied, but pleased with what we have been doing."