Pugh And Auburn O Frustrated In Loss

Auburn center Ryan Pugh gives his thoughts on the Tigers' loss to Vanderbilt and the problems on offense.

Auburn, Ala.--The day after wasn't any easier for the Auburn Tigers after a 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt in Nashville. Offensively it was a hard game to swallow as the Tigers managed just 208 yards of total offense against the league's worst defensive team statistically. Sophomore center Ryan Pugh says there wasn't much positive to take out of the loss to the Commodores.

"We're pretty down right now," Pugh says. "It's a loss to Vanderbilt. I don't think I remember the last time I saw a team at Auburn get beat by Vanderbilt. That's probably because I wasn't alive. It's just disappointing. I felt a little embarrassed after the game the way we played. To go out and have a performance like that is just disappointing."

Things didn't start out terrible for the Tigers as offensively they got under center with two tight ends and ran the ball right at the Commodores the first two drives of the game. On just 19 plays Auburn gained 102 yards of offense, scored one touchdown and ended another drive on the Vandy one yard line. Pugh says with things going so well he's not sure why they didn't keep the ball on the ground after that.

"We come out in the first quarter and rush for about 100 yards," Pugh says. "We looked like Auburn of old. We got our confidence going and all of the sudden we completely go away from it. As a player it's frustrating. As someone watching the game I'm sure it's frustrating. It's really embarrassing to come out and lay an egg in the second quarter and second half."

One of the reasons why Auburn went away from the run was because of Vanderbilt's defensive schemes. The Commodores adjusted quickly to put more men in the box. The Tigers saw it and when Chris Todd hit Mario Fannin for a 27-yard score things looked good for the Tigers. Unfortunately that was the end of the offense for the night as the Tigers gained just 79 yards in the loss.

"They brought nine in the box and starting playing the run," Pugh says. "I thought it opened up the pass a little bit. You saw in the third drive we hit Mario deep down the middle because we had baited them in. It's just being consistent on offense and mixing it up running the ball and throwing the ball. You can't come out and do all of one or the other. If you're going to do that you've got to be real good at doing one or real good at doing the other.

"You can't just come out and throw your gameplan away in the second half. I just feel like that's what happened. I don't know if that's because we didn't have confidence in the line or confidence in the backs or they saw something in the secondary and thought they could throw it. The bottom line is we came out in the first quarter and dominated them running the ball. I thought we had moments in the second half where we ran the ball right at them again and we get away from it."

The question is where do the Tigers go from here. Without the ability to throw the ball with success teams will automatically gang up on the line of scrimmage like they've done the past few seasons against Auburn if the Tigers line up under center with two tight ends. Because of that Pugh says it's important for them to find something to hang their hats on in both areas to build on the rest of the season.

"We want to do whatever works to be honest," Pugh says. "No one likes to go out there and lose. Whatever gives us the best chance to win as a player, it doesn't really matter if we throw it every down or run it every down, we just want to go out and win whether it's 3-2 or 50-2. We just want to go out and win. That's the attitude you've got to have. That's the attitude you've got to have is that no matter what is called you've got to line up and be able to win. Right now we're just not getting it done."

The purpose of any offense is to score points first and foremost. While the yardage is important, in the grand scheme of things the final score is the only measure in the game of football. That's just another area where Auburn is lagging well behind on offense and Pugh says while it's frustrating for the entire team, the job falls on his unit to get the job done.

"You wake up this morning and you feel bad," Pugh says. "It doesn't hit you last night as much as this morning when you wake up and you realize you're 4-2 and 2-2 in the SEC. We had it laid out for us to make a run at this thing and we kind of had a slip up here and with our defense having so many darn injuries. They are playing their hearts out. They give up 14 points a game, the offense has to come through and get some points and win a game. Our defense is playing phenomenal. I think we've scored 34 points the last four weeks. The last time I checked that's a little over eight. You can't win very many football games scoring eight points."

Even with the problems on offense and the defense playing well Pugh says there is not a problem between the two sides. He notes that they get encouragement from the defense and that's important because they still feel like they can get the job done and make things right on offense.

"People are going to jump to that automatically because it's a struggle every time," Pugh says. "The defense goes out there and gets a stop for you time after time and then you go out there and go three and out and send them right back on the field. It's frustrating and if I was on the defense I would be frustrated too. As an offense we're frustrated because we know we've got the athletes capable of winning every game we got out on the field and play. We know we've got the coaching to do it. Right now we haven't put it all together."


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