Tigers Searching for Offensive Answers

An update on the Auburn football Tigers is featured as Coach Tommy Tuberville team returned to practice to begin preparations for Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville said Sunday after studying video of his team's 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt that the coaching staff is going over all aspects of the offense with a "fine-tooth" comb looking for answers to the team's struggles.

Of particular concern is his team's struggles in the second half. "It's mind-boggling," the coach said. "I thought we were in a great situation last night to take the momentum away. They scored right before half, but we were going to get the kickoff. It seemed like in the second half we lost our focus. We had one penalty the first half, 10 the second half--but that is on both offense and defense."

The head coach said the Tigers simplified the overall game plan last week despite adding new wrinkles to the offense. "We cut way back again last week, as we will do this week," he noted. "We will try to find some continuity. We just don't have a lot right now anywhere."

Tuberville said the offensive coaches have been searching for answers on a weekly basis. "We get up here about daylight (on Sunday). Last week after Tennessee we got up here and went over everything for three or four hours and did the same thing today. We went from early to about noon.

"What you want to do is get together and kind of combine everybody's thoughts--what they see," he said. "We have got five of those guys (offensive coaches) and me. We talk to the defensive coaches--what they see. You are just looking for answers."

Commenting on the offense, Tuberville said, "You can say we are a spread team because that is what we base out of, but we are like anybody else. If you look at Texas or Oklahoma or Kansas or Missouri, they all get in one-back and they all get in two tight ends. You have got to do what your personnel dictates. This our first time to do it.

"Everybody else has kind of gone through the growing up process," he said. "With two new quarterbacks, that's what makes it kind of tough. You don't have a Brandon Cox back there. Brandon could pretty much know what is going on and understand adjustments. These two guys are learning as we go. When you change something, it changes something for them."

Tuberville said the changes being made in the offense are being done by offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, not Tuberville. "It's all him. It's not me changing it. I mean he is the one changing it. Of course, a good coach is going to change to the personnel you have got. You are not going to stick with something if you look back there and the quarterbacks are not comfortable, you have got to do something that is going to give a positive spin on it.

"They are all doing it," Tuberville said of the offensive coaching staff. "They are doing it together. They get together to figure out what will work against a defense."

Tuberville predicted the Tigers will get better on offense. "There are things, I think, that neither quarterback has taken advantage of. They haven't improved--there is no doubt about that. They are missing some reads, but again each week it is against a team that is going to give them a different challenge. Sometimes they figure it out, sometimes they don't. That is just lack of experience."

Tuberville said he isn't sure whether Chris Todd or Kodi Burns will start at quarterback this week. "I don't think there is any doubt if you look at last night, I don't think you grade either one very high on what they did. They didn't throw it very well. We made mistakes, but I can't give you an answer of how much either one of them is going to play.

"I don't think you could say there is a true guy who is going to be the starter," he added, although he noted that Todd would begin practice running number one again this week. "But at the end of the week that might change depending on what our game plan is going to be."

In other news:

*Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks had an MRI on his ankle and the problem is believed to be ankle sprain, Tuberville said.

*Cornerback Jerraud Powers is sidelined by a hamstring problem. Tuberville said he doesn't know how long he will be out of action.

*Saturday's game against Arkansas will kick off at 4 p.m. with TV coverage on pay per view.

*Tailback Brad Lester saw limited action because he wasn't full speed with the knee he injured vs. LSU.

*Jason Bosley and Ben Tate both got ill during the Vandy game, Tuberville said. He noted he wasn't sure if it was something they ate or something else.

*Wes Byrum, who missed an extra point vs. the Commodores, will go into the Arkansas game as the number one kicker. Tuberville had praise for his kickoffs and Auburn's kickoff coverage.

*Defensive end Antonio Coleman played with a pulled muscle in his leg, Tuberville said.

*Defensive end Michael Goggans saw limited action vs. Vandy due to an ankle problem and a turf toe issue, Tuberville said.

*Ben Tate suffered a thigh bruise, but was fine for Sunday's practice, Tuberville said.

*Robert Dunn, who missed the Vandy game with an ankle problem, is making progress and could be ready for the Arkansas game.

*The Tigers fell to 20th in the AP poll and 23rd in the USA Today Coaches poll.

*Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Zach Clayton won praise from Tuberville for his play vs. Vandy.

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