Franklin Going Back To His Roots

Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin discusses the LSU game and what he saw out of QB Chris Todd.

Auburn, Ala.--When Tony Franklin was hired as Auburn's offensive coordinator to employ his spread offense and no huddle attack, he talked about the need to pass first to set up the running game. Through the first three games though the Tigers ran more and tried to get the passing game untracked.

Saturday night with Franklin upstairs in the coaching box for the first time this season, Auburn's offense got the passing game going behind quarterback Chris Todd with 250 yards through the air on 17-32 attempts. While those numbers aren't huge, it represents a big improvement for the Tigers and something Franklin said fits in well with the pass first mentality he's been used to.

"That's usually the way we've done it," Franklin said of throwing and then running. "It's always been that way other than the other way. Here I tried to do it early but it didn't work so I went back the other way. I'm more comfortable the way that we did it the other night. I just have to do it a little bit more.

"The biggest mistake I made was not throwing the ball enough," Franklin said of Saturday night. "We threw it 30-something times and if I went back and had to do it over again I would have thrown it 10 or 15 more times because the things we struggled with running the football we probably couldn't fix that night. I should have thrown the ball more."

The need to throw the ball more came from a lack of success in the running game as Auburn carried the ball 36 times for a total of just 70 yards. Franklin said the problems started up front where LSU made plays and Auburn didn't.

"It was obvious that compared to normal and how we usually block that it wasn't as good," Franklin said. "A lot of that was LSU. That's a great defensive front. They are physically gifted and they were well coached and got after us. We just didn't do as well as we have been. The pass protection was good with the exception of a couple of blunders. It wasn't physical, it was mental. Outside of that we did a good job in pass protection."

Without much success running the ball and LSU's defensive linemen pushing the pocket at times, Franklin moved Todd outside of the pocket and that was a big reason for Todd's success throwing the football.

"We felt like we had to move the pocket some to help our offensive line out," Franklin said. "It was a nice little package. Every week that you do it, it will be a little different because everybody will now defend that package. We'll have to improvise it a little bit."

While he still made several glaring mistakes, for the most part Todd stepped up to the plate and delivered when the offense needed a play. Franklin said that was the biggest positive to come out of the night as far as his quarterback is concerned.

"He played good," Franklin said. "He had three plays that were really poor. Outside of that he played well. He made numerous really good plays and big throws. He got beat up pretty good. He made several throws when he was getting hit in the face. I think he got more comfortable.

"I think every week he plays he'll see a little bit of improvement each week. I thought he threw the ball with some zip on it too. The ball looked more live that it had. It wasn't perfect but it was good. He played well."

Even with the pass working more effectively, the Tigers still tried to mix in the run. One of those came with the Tigers trying to run out the clock on the second to last drive. Following a run on first down and an incomplete pass on second down, Auburn ran the ball on third and 10 and came up well short of a first down. Franklin said they made the right call but just failed to execute.

"When we looked at it we didn't make the play," Franklin said. "We had exactly what we wanted. On the third and long we had five in the box. We had a play we just didn't make the blocks and stay on them."

This week the Tigers will try to build on some of the success from the LSU game when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Franklin said he'll again be upstairs for the game because it provides him a better view of everything and a feel for calling plays.

"I have done it both ways," Franklin said. "On the field for me has been a positive thing because of other issues that happen during a ballgame. I felt like I needed to do a much better job of calling the plays. I haven't done a very good job.

"I know I did a better job of calling plays and giving us a chance," he added. "I just have to do that every week. The things that have normally been good for me as a play caller on the field haven't been here so I've got to make those adjustments."

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