Quarterback Brandon Cox didn't have his best night and said he knew there were going to be some mistakes on offense in the season opener but he's glad the unit was able to step up and make the plays when they were needed the most. Despite being beat up with a bruised shoulder and also injuring the thumb on his right hand late in the second quarter, Cox was solid on Auburn's last drive said Coach Al Borges and he noted it's something they expect from the senior with the game on the line. Cox said he was just glad to make a play when it was needed on a very tough night physically.
"I have been telling everybody and I told our offensive line that I knew there were going to be some mistakes," Cox said. "There were going to be times that I got sacked. We're just going to learn from it…I took a few good shots tonight. I'm beat up. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow because I know I'll be sore but that's part of the game. You just keep fighting back. That last series we came out and had a great drive and got great pass protection. We can make plays offensively. We've just got to go out there and execute."
Borges also said he changed Auburn's approach late in the game against Kansas State and that led to the success on the final drive. Instead of using the running game as a decoy and using play fakes, Borges said they instead used a straight drop back for Cox and it allowed him to see the field earlier and make quicker reads. Borges said it's something he probably should have done earlier against a very aggressive Kansas State defense.
One player that was very happy about the way the game turned out was tight end Gabe McKenzie. Part of a very successful contingent of players from the Mobile area in Saturday night's opener, McKenzie had a career night with four catches for 42 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. McKenzie said the Tigers had a special package for the tight end in a goal situation and it just so happened to be his number that was called on the play.
"We've been watching film on them and they didn't really cover that play much," McKenzie said. "They go for the run first…they call your play and you want to be there to do it consistently."
Running back Benjamin Tate led all rushers in Saturday night's game.
It wasn't a huge night for the running game against the Wildcats as Auburn rushed for just 62 yards on 37 carries but 27 yards were taken off that total due to negative plays. Sophomore Ben Tate carried the ball 23 times for 82 yards and was the only player on either team to have more than 14 rushing yards for the game.
Auburn got several big catches out of the wide receivers Saturday night starting with Rod Smith's 55-yard grab in the first half. The story of the night on offense may have been the play of senior wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez. He finished with six catches for 73 yards. The biggest play of the night offensively may have come from little-used speedster James Swinton. His 16-yard grab from Cox set up Auburn's only offensive touchdown of the night. Borges said he was happy to see Swinton come up big when the team needed him.