Running Game Up And Down For Tigers

Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall talks about the performance of the offense on Saturday against Georgia.

Auburn, Ala.--For an offense that has struggled just to move the football at times, Saturday's game against Georgia was easily the best performance of the year for the Auburn Tigers. While it didn't translate into a victory and it was far from perfect, offensive line coach Hugh Nall said it was one to build on.

"Believe it or not you've got to be proud of their effort today," Nall said. "We're going to try to build on that. We stayed after it. We're going to try to take that effort into the next game and try to get better on all the fundamental stuff and the x's and o's to get them in the best situation to move the ball and score points.

"Needless to say I thought it was a gutsy performance," Nall added. "We got after them. We knew they had a physical defensive front. I thought we played hard. Certainly I wish I would have gotten them in some better situations to run the ball better. We didn't run the ball as good as we need to. It was a hard fought game."

One of the biggest additions on offense was the huddle, something the Tigers haven't done this season. On more than half the plays in the game the offense huddled before going to the line of scrimmage. Nall said that was an important part of the success against Georgia.

"I think that really helps to get away from the signaling so we know everybody knows the play," Nall said. "We sort of had some problems with that, not so much last week as a few weeks before that. It's nice when everybody leaves the huddle in the same mental frame and everybody is doing the same thing."

That helped to get the offense on the same page and it showed at times. Two of those were when sophomore Mario Fannin was in the game. With 126 all-purpose yards on 13 touches and two touchdowns, Nall said Fannin definitely brings something to the offense with his play.

"He brings a little spark to it," Nall said. "He's got a little quickness that you like. He can hit the hole and change directions. I like the way he accelerates. It was a great run on the touchdown run. They were blitzing and we picked up a few guys, but he had to make some guys miss. They sent more than we could block right there and it was a great run."

Even with Fannin's day the Tigers managed just 124 yards on the ground on 36 attempts. Ben Tate ran 14 times for 37 yards while Kodi Burns added 28 yards on 14 carries. No other Tiger carried the ball against Georgia.

Despite missing two scoring chances in the red zone and having two more shots well within striking distance, Auburn's offense came up short in its final attempts to get the Tigers a victory. After failing to score on fourth down with just over four minutes left, Auburn got the ball back and once again it was too little and too late for the Tigers.

"You've got to credit our defense against a great offense, which they are," Nall said. "The receivers and the running back and quarterback they've got, I thought our defense did a great job of keeping the points low. The kids did what we asked them to do which is give yourself a chance to win and keep fighting. We knew it was going to be a battle. They kept fighting and kept fighting and we had a chance to win it at the end."

With one game remaining in the regular season the Tigers have everything riding on making it seven in a row against rival Alabama. A win would not only give Auburn six wins on the season and make the Tigers bowl eligible, it would also likely extinguish any hopes of a national championship for the Crimson Tide. Nall said before that happens they'll need to continue making strides on the field beginning in practice.

"We've still got to find ways to make sure we get good numbers for our run game," Nall said. "I think that is number one and just to continue to try to get better at everything. When you're not winning you're certainly not good enough at anything you're doing. You need to get better at everything. We'll focus on everything from alignment, assignment, technique to keep working as hard as we can."

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