Last week was an eye-opening experience though for the offense and the Tigers in general as they were pounded by the Arkansas Razorbacks, 44-23, for the first loss of the season. In that game Auburn finished with solid overall numbers offensively, but managed just 23 points and just over 100 yards of offense in the first half to fall behind 27-3 at the break.
That was something this version of Auburn's offense had yet to experience this season. Even in the win over Tennessee the Tigers piled up some impressive offensive totals while managing just 26 points. Junior center Ryan Pugh said the feeling this week for the team has them knowing they didn't take care of business last week leading up to the game and that was the root of many of the problems.
"It was pretty frustrating, but you can't let that dictate how you come out and play this week," Pugh said. "You can't let that dictate how you play in the game. We can make all the excuses in the world, we just didn't come out and play very well. We didn't prepare ourselves mentally and physically during the week. The coaches gave us a good gameplan, we just didn't go out and execute the things we had been executing all year."
Even with the problems, Auburn still managed just rush for 242 yards in the game with senior Ben Tate getting a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns. For the year the Tigers are averaging 251.8 yards on the ground with Tate's 120.7 yards leading the SEC. Pugh said the offensive line takes a lot of pride in what Tate is doing, but in the end it's about the entire offense and getting victories.
"It makes us feel good, but it's certainly not something we go into every game thinking about," Pugh said. "It's not that at all. We do our job up front. If we do our job up front then offensively we can run the ball and throw the ball as good as anybody in the country. We know that. We have to practice like that every day."
Auburn is hoping to get back to the winning ways this Saturday night against Kentucky. Last in the league in rush defense, allowing 177.8 yards per game, the Wildcats have struggled to slow opponents this season. Pugh said even though it might look like a game to get the offense back on track, the Tigers aren't taking anything for granted this week as they look to become bowl eligible.
"I think we learned a lot of things," Pugh said. "I think we learned that we're not good enough yet to come out and not have a good week of practice and play on Saturday. I think we learned that our focus level has to be at a maximum all week whether it be at a walk-through on Friday or a walk-through on Saturday morning in the hotel. Whether it's on the bus ride or the plane it doesn't matter. It has to be 100 percent focus all the time.
"We have to come out and perform as good as we can on offense and that we take control of the things we can control in the game. We can't worry about what the defense does during the game. We just have to go out and score when they get us the ball. That's our job. If we focus and do our job then everything will be fine."