The Auburn Tigers found that out the hard way Monday night in a 24-17 loss to the USC Trojans in Los Angeles.
After controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball for the first half, the Tigers were put into submission in the second half by a veteran USC club. The experience should prove to be an important one for an Auburn team searching for positives out of the trip. A first half that saw them run the ball for over 140 yards was proof enough for junior offensive lineman Monreko Crittenden, who says he believes this team has what it takes to get the job done. And that all starts with the guys up front.
"Our performance in the first half gave us a lot of confidence," he said of his offensive line counterparts. "We always knew that we could be a good offensive line. That just proved to us that we can be a good offensive line as long as we continue to do what we are doing."
While the offensive line has something to build on, the same can't be said for the wide receivers. With just 141 yards passing on the night out of 22 attempts, the passing game left a lot to be desired on Monday night. Even though sophomore Silas Daniels did his part with three catches for 28 yards, he said that the Tigers have a lot of work to do to get better before Saturday's game vs. Western Carolina.
Wide receiver Silas Daniels looks downfield after his first catch of the season.
"We're real disappointed, but we know we played our hearts out," Daniels said. "We gave it all we had. We're disappointed, but in a way it's a learning experience. We're a young team and we're just coming together."
His counterpart, freshman Ben Obomanu, agreed with Daniels' assessment. With just one catch for 10 yards in the game, the Selma native said that he thinks the offense will use this week to improve and correct the mistakes they made in game one.
"We have a lot of room for improvement," Obomanu noted. "Coach (Greg) Knox really looked at all the wide receivers and wants us to do a lot more things as far as blocking and route running and those types of things. He said as far as being the first game we looked pretty good."
Now the Tigers turn their attention to the Western Carolina Catamounts this Saturday. Although not a high profile or high powered opponent, they will provide a test for the Tigers after a long road trip to the West Coast and a quick turnaround. Obomanu said overlooking them is not even a concern for this Auburn team because they are hungry to get that first win.
"After a loss like that everybody wants to come out and make a good showing," Obomanu said, "show everybody that we are a pretty good football team, that we can win games. We're not going to look past them at all. We're going to really study them a lot more so we won't make the same mistakes we made before."
One of the veteran players on offense, Crittenden said that Auburn's focus won't change this week facing Western Carolina after playing a team like USC last week. Searching for their first win since Nov. 10 at Georgia, a streak of four straight games, the Tigers hope to end that this week in front of the home crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"I don't really think it changes things much even though we did lose the game," he said. "Every game is important. We're going to come out with the same intensity and the same things that we can out for the USC game. But I think it will go farther through the whole game instead of just the first half."