Coming into Saturday night's game at Jordan-Hare Stadium both teams are looking for much more out of their respective offenses following successful opening game victories last weekend.
For Auburn the performance last Saturday night was one that was a source of pride for an offense that ranked among the nation's worst in 2008. Racking up 556 yards of total offense and 301 rushing yards in a 37-13 victory, the Tigers had fun playing football and running back Ben Tate says that is something that is huge for the team heading into SEC play.
"It was a good feeling," Tate says "I haven't seen over 300 yards of rushing or as an offense as a whole, it has been a long time since I've seen something like that from us. To put up over 500 yards of total offense that was a great accomplishment for us. It gives us a lot of confidence going into the season."
Rushing for 117 yards, Tate became just the 13th running back in school history to surpass 2,000 career rushing yards against Louisiana Tech. Making is debut, freshman Onterio McCalebb ran for 148 yards to give Auburn two backs over the century mark in the same game.
This week the duo could get some help as well when sophomore Eric Smith returns after his one-game suspension. A physical player with soft hands, Tate says Smith should be a boost in a number of areas for the offense as it gets ready for a tough Bulldog defense.
"It's good to have him back now because he gives us more depth at the four position and also the H-Back position kind of like what Mario (Fannin) does," Tate points out. "He adds more depth because Eric can do it all. He's probably going to help us out right away doing some things. It's great to have him back and around the team. It's great to see him with a smile on his face again."
Even with all of the positives heading into the week, there are still plenty of things to work on for the offense said Tate. One of the biggest things is increasing the tempo, something that coordinator Gus Malzahn has been preaching to them all fall. Tate says when they watched the game again they could see plenty of offense left on the table.
"There were a lot of things we did wrong as an offense," Tate says. "It was the first game. There are still a lot of things that we have to correct. Like coach (Malzahn) said, we should have had 700 yards of offense. We should have had 400 yards rushing. There are definitely some things to work on and things to improve on before the Mississippi State game."
A tireless worker and a coordinator who leaves no stone unturned in what he does on offense and when studying the opposing defense, Malzahn has been successful at every stop. Because of that Tate says the Auburn players had a good feeling things were going to be successful, but they got a real good taste of that Saturday night when they put up 24 points and 357 yards of offense in the final 30 minutes to run away from a stubborn Louisiana Tech team.
"I knew the offense was going to work because I've never been around an offensive coordinator that's like him," Tate says. "He's so attention to detail, he knew exactly what they were doing. It was just executing. We did some things wrong in the first half. Once we got them corrected we started putting up points. It was more us executing in the first half."
That confidence in Malzahn and the coaching staff continues to grow with each passing day. After a season filled with more questions that answers in 2008, it's plain to see that the Auburn offense is having fun believing once again.
"When you just believe in your coaches and have all your faith in them and what they are doing and what they are telling you is going to work, it just gets everything clicking as a unit," Tate says. "There is no indecisiveness going on. It's a great feeling."