"There were times we weren't all bad," offensive coordinator Al Borges explains. "We just aren't finishing. That's the problem. We have to work a little more on our red zone offense and our red zone fringe offense where we get close to red zone, and really look at what we're doing--play calling wise and an execution wise--and try to shore up some of this stuff. We've got to score more. We've got to score more points."
Auburn had several long drives that ended without points. Rod Smith fumbled on the 10th play of the opening drive after the Tigers had moved 40 yards. After a Brad Lester one-yard score on the second drive, they moved another 40 yards before Carl Stewart got stuffed up the middle on third and one. They had another long drive to end the third and start the fourth, but it was halted after an illegal block in the back by Chris Slaughter put them in first and 20.
"We didn't finish drives, that was the problem," Borges says. "We moved the ball all night. We ran the ball well, and when we threw it we threw it pretty efficiently. We stumbled here and stumbled there and put ourselves in bad down and distance and didn't come up with anything. Based on how well we moved the ball we should have scored more points."
Over the last five games Auburn has scored just 13 points in the third quarter. It got a Wes Byrum 36-yard field goal to finish an 11-play, 58-yard drive midway through the third.
Auburn moved the ball well for most of the night, finishing with 189 yards passing and 231 rushing, but again because of inability to put teams away, the Tigers found themselves in a close one in the final minutes. Brandon Cox hit Smith on a post route and the junior wideout raced 34 yards for the score to put the game out of reach with 3:15 remaining.
"That's one thing that we're lacking," Borges notes. "We're not getting enough big plays. We finally got one. We caught them in a zero-blitz (no deep safeties) and Brandon made a great throw under pressure. Rod made a guy miss and he scored.
"We need to get more of those types of plays where we're getting big chunks," he continues. "That's keeping us from scoring more points because our offense is really improving, I believe. We've definitely gotten better, but if we're going to be real good we can't have to have a 14 or 15-play drive every time."
"Obviously we still have room to improve," says center Jason Bosley. "We had 400 yards of offense and only 17 points. We've got to pick up our third quarter production. I thought we did better but we've just got to finish drives, score more points when we're in the red zone. We moved the ball all night, but when you don't score points it puts your defense in a bind."