Finishing The Focus For Pugh And Offense

Sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Pugh talks about the struggles on offense.

Auburn, Ala.--Several changes were made on offense for the Auburn Tigers heading into the West Virginia game. Two of those came up front where Ryan Pugh and Jason Bosley switched back to their original positions of tackle and center, respectively.

Pugh says that although he only got a few days of practice back at tackle he felt the move went well.

"I thought it was a smooth transition after playing center for six weeks," he says. "I knew it was going to be a tough challenge to go back out there. Coach (Hugh) Nall got me prepared real well so it was a good transition."

With the changes expected to stay in place this week against Ole Miss along with fellow sophomore Mike Berry starting in place of Byron Isom (concussion) at right guard, Pugh says that he's glad Nall is looking for the right combination up front and he's all for that as the Tigers try to improve their 4-4 record.

"Whatever helps us win," Pugh says. "I'm a team guy. If that's the best five and I'm on the field at tackle or center or if I'm on the bench it doesn't matter to me. As long as we have the best five out there that give us the best shot to win."

On Sunday the Tigers continued a recent trend in practice of being more physical with the first offense and first defense going head to head in 11-on-11 work as well as inside and one-on-one drills. Pugh says that because of those practice sessions he's hoping the offense can learn to keep the pressure on in the second half of games to put away opponents.

"I know I responded well," Pugh says. "I feel like the offensive line really had a good day. The focus of the practice was just finishing. If you go back and look we're 8-0 in the first half. We're the best first half team in the country, but we've got to learn how to finish. The coaches are stressing that every play, finishing every block, every throw, every run, every tackle. Now until the end of the season we want to finish."

Through eight games in 2008 the common theme for Auburn's offense has been the second half lull that has allowed four opponents to come back and win. In all but one game, the Tigers led by 10 or more points. Pugh says that's the most disappointing thing about the season is what could have been.

"If you look at it we came out on fire all these games and we just didn't finish," he says. "There's no other way to put it really. You can say it was a number of things ,but when it boils down to it we didn't get the job done in the second half.

"As an offensive line it's just discouraging. I know I'm a competitor and I hate losing more than anything in the world. I feel like I'm letting the seniors down by not finishing as well. With the coaches stressing the issue I think we‘ll see a team that finishes this week."

Pugh and his team's next opportunity to do something about their second half slump is Saturday at 11:30 s.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss in a game that will be televised regionally by Raycom.

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