Unfortunately for the Auburn offense, the Tigers are struggling to get everybody executing correctly on every play. Auburn has been hurting its offensive cause with a variety of issues whether it's a dropped pass, a fumble, a missed block or an errant throw, Al Borges' unit hasn't put all of the pieces together.
It's extremely rare for a dominating offensive line to be a part of a struggling offense. While Auburn's starting five probably won't achieve dominant status this season, it's still important that it improves for the offense as a whole to get better itself. The front five was average against Kansas State, but played better for most of the game against South Florida.
"I think we made some definite improvement," says center Jason Bosley. "In the second quarter, especially, we started coming off the ball and got after them. But it's hard to win when you turn the ball over five times. Coach (Hugh) Nall said we did some really good things. We're close."
Starting a true freshman in Lee Ziemba, a redshirt freshman in Mike Berry and a first time starter in Tyronne Green, the line was a concern going into the season. If it continues to make the same strides it did from game one to game two, it could eventually be a strength of the offense.
Another young potential strength was still a liability against the Bulls. Tailback Mario Fannin was the primary ball-carrier on three first half drives for the Tigers. On those drives Auburn moved 48 yards for a field goal, 65 yards for a touchdown and 63 yards for another touchdown.
However, in the second half Fannin touched the ball twice on offense--both fumbles. And Auburn managed just a field goal during the third and fourth quarters.
Both of Auburn's touchdowns against South Florida came in the second quarter on drives where Fannin carried the load.
"I think we just came out with an attitude," Bosley says of the second quarter. "Coach Borges said we've got go to run the ball here. We ran our base runs and got after them. It only takes one or two big plays to get you going. When you have a running back like Mario Fannin running people over out there that makes you want to block even harder for him. I think once we hit a couple we started getting some confidence and we started getting some momentum.
"He was pounding people....he's just got to hold onto the football," Bosley adds.
Jason Bosley was a part-time starter last season after Joe Cope was injured.
While the Tigers are averaging 290.5 yards, 23 points and 3.5 turnovers, the junior center finds reason for optimism once the early-season jitters and mistakes are out of the way.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we have the talent," he notes. "This is the most that's been here since I've been here. I think we just really have to harp on finishing plays--stay on blocks a little longer, run a route a little harder, hold onto the ball a little harder. It's the little things that got us beat. The effort is great. You watch the film and everybody is busting their butts.
"It's just frustrating," Bosley continues. "I think if you've looked in the past it's usually taken a few games every season for the offense to really get going. Even in '04 they didn't get going until the third or fourth game of the year. It takes time to gel when you have a lot of new guys up there. We're really close."
Kickoff for Mississippi State at Auburn is at 11:30 a.m.