Auburn, Ala.--After carrying the team much of the season, Auburn's defense had a chance to hold a 10-point lead in the second half on the road at LSU, but came up just short as the Bengal Tigers came away with a 30-24 victory. Coach Tommy Tuberville says after having a chance to look back at the game he saw some mistakes on offense and defense, but also saw the play of a good football team make the difference.
"We missed some tackles, but they've got a hell of a football team," Tuberville says. "Let's don't take anything away from them. That's the best team we've played. They were able to get the ball out on the corners. Our DB's didn't tackle near as well as they did in the past few games. Good players make you miss and they sure did that."
Offensively the game was similar to much of Auburn's season and particularly games at Florida and Arkansas when the Tigers controlled the game for the first 30 minutes only to go into a shell in the third quarter and allow the opposition to get the momentum back. In all three games the offense responded in the fourth quarter with drives to take the lead, but Tuberville says it's something they need to do earlier in contests.
"I think it's more of the defenses," Tuberville says. "They loosen up and are going to let you run the ball and do a few things. They are going to bend a little more than break. They've (LSU) got two good corners that they loosened up a little bit and let Lester get the ball out of the backfield on the pass. If you give him some open areas he'll take advantage of it.
"There are probably some things we can do that we're not doing," he adds. "If you go back and look, in almost every game in the third quarter we just have not been a good executing team in terms of what we want to do. We don't have that instinct to take it and go with it. We get a little lead and we seem to sit on it."
When using the team ‘sit on it' most would assume running the football more and not opening up the offense, but Tuberville says that wasn't the case Saturday night. Looking back on the game he says the Tigers did basically the same mix of run and pass in the third quarter, but just didn't make the plays they needed to sustain drives.
"We really didn't run much more in the third and fourth quarter than we did in the first or second," Tuberville says. "It was just that we didn't execute as well. I don't know whether we were feeling our way around. We talked to all of our players about this. It is no different feeling or actions. If you look at them (LSU) they struggled for a half and then they got it going the second half. You're not going to play good every quarter. You just hope that you would be able to sometime put together four quarters and be able to put somebody away. They were too good to do that, but at least we could have scored a few more points."
When talking about the offense Tuberville took the time to talk about the chop block from true freshman guard Chaz Ramsey on LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. Tuberville says it's something they don't condone and Ramsey feels bad about, but it was a freshman mistake after a mix up between Ramsey and fellow freshman Lee Ziemba.
On the play, a zone scheme, Tuberville and offensive coordinator Al Borges say that Ramsey is looking to the linebacker while Ziemba's responsibility is to post up Dorsey and move to the second level. On the play the linebacker slid out of Ramsey's gap so he saw his block on Dorsey. Ziemba didn't see the movement, which should have given him the green light to move to the second level of the defense. Instead he remained locked up with Dorsey when Ramsey's cut block occurred.
"I would like to say this about the chop block," Tuberville says. "Those things happen. We do not teach it. We will not teach it and we won't tolerate it. The things that all of our coaches in the league have talked about is chop blocks and roughing the quarterback. We want the officials to call those. That should have been a 15-yard penalty.
"Glenn Dorsey is a great player. He's very athletic and one of the best I've seen in the last 15 years in my time as a defensive lineman. It was two freshmen and they were trying like the dickens to block him. There wasn't any malice. A lot of times we were blocking below the waist. We talked to the people involved and there was no malice or trying to hurt anybody. We will not condone it or teach it. There is no place for that in college football."
On the injury front, Auburn is fairly healthy coming out of the LSU game with only some minor bumps and bruises from the brutally physical game in Tiger Stadium. During the week Auburn was hoping to get Merrill Johnson (shoulder), Aairon Savage (knee) and Ryan Pugh (ankle) back on the field against LSU Saturday night, but it just didn't work out.
"I don't think there is anything that is going to hold anybody out," Tuberville says. "It's the same guys. The same guys are beat up. I don't think there are any new ones other than Patrick Lee, who came back after jamming his neck on one tackle.
"Merrill nor Savage played," he adds. "It was just one of those deals where we got into it and they weren't up to speed for that game. Ryan didn't practice and we weren't going to play him. We just took him and let him dress, but he didn't warm up. Hopefully he'll be back at practice Tuesday. That's what they're telling us."
Tuberville says that kicker Wes Byrum has been bothered by a strained hamstring and groin that has affected him for much of the year, but that wasn't his reasoning for the squib kicks against LSU. He says they didn't want to kick the ball to LSU speedster Trindon Holliday and give him a chance to make a big play.
Auburn's punt returner and wide receiver Robert Dunn didn't make the trip to LSU and Tuberville says he'll decide when Dunn will get on the field again. He did put to rest any rumors about Dunn's status though, saying he's still a Tiger.
"Robert Dunn had a little practice problem," Tuberville says. "We suspended him for the game. I'll talk to him again tonight. He'll come back and start working with the team. He's not off the team. I just haven't decided when he's going to play again."