AU Offense Flourishes Early Once Again

Al Borges couldn't have scripted the first two drives of the game any better in Auburn's 35-7 victory over Vanderbilt.

Auburn, Ala.--Just as it did at Florida last Saturday, the Auburn offense came out with near-perfect execution and claimed an early lead. Offensive coordinator Al Borges pulled out all of the stops on the Tigers first two drives of the game and never looked back.

"I used every opening play I had on the first two drives, which is about 17," Borges explains.

On the first drive alone the offense showed imagination on nearly every play, whether it was a fake reverse to Mario Fannin, a counter pitchout to Brad Lester, a delayed middle screen to Tommy Trott or a bubble screen in the flats to Fannin. Backup quarterback Kodi Burns also saw action on the opening series.

"The last two weeks we've opened up the book pretty good in regard to formations," Borges says. "The nucleus of our running game stays intact week to week, but in terms of the window dressing around it we're doing a little bit more than we've been doing. We presented a couple of new nuances today and a couple of plays we had not shown before. We'll probably do that every week."


Ben Tate finished the opening drive with an old-fashioned four-yard run up the middle.

"I don't know how to elaborate, but it's a lot more fun when you have a lot of rhythm," Borges says. "You can call a play knowing it has a chance to go.

"We've tried to create some things about as much as we could with the perimeter," he adds. "We're doing more of it now because we're playing more confident."

With the Auburn defense forcing a punt on Vanderbilt's first two possessions, the Tigers had a chance early on to jump up 14-0 for the second consecutive week. They drove 80 yards in nine plays on the first drive and 74 yards in seven plays on the second. On third and goal from the Commodores' two-yard line, Brandon Cox rolled left, bought time and found Rod Smith in the end zone.

Cox, not known for making plays in space, did so several times on third down in Auburn's 35-7 win on Saturday.

"Our offensive line is giving him a chance to do that," Borges explains. "As a quarterback you can be a little more elusive if you have a chance to escape. If you get back to the drop point with everybody all over you there's no chance to escape. Our offensive line has done such a good job of giving him a chance that even when the receivers are covered he can buy time and complete a pass. He did that a couple of times today."

Cox was 6-6 for 56 yards and touchdown on the first two drives.

"We opened it up a little more," Cox notes. "Starting out we had a lot of young guys on offense at the beginning of the year. Now everybody is starting to get comfortable with what we're doing out there. We're able to open it up a little more and we opened up the playbook on the first two drives. Everything that was new was pretty successful and I think it caught Vanderbilt off guard a little bit."

Auburn also scored touchdowns on the third and fifth drives of the game before letting off the gas. The Tigers had 324 yards and 28 points by halftime.


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