The lack in production coincides with the injury to freshman running back Onterio McCalebb and there is little question his bum ankle has hampered the entire offensive attack. With his speed, McCalebb averaged nearly 100 yards per game in the first four games, but a failed fake punt against Ball State may be the biggest special teams mistake of the season for Auburn.
After that play the Tigers haven't been the same offensive attack. Slowed a little the following week, McCalebb ran 31 times for just 51 yards against Tennessee as the Tigers had 459 yards of offense, but only 26 points against a strong Volunteer defense. The next week his injured ankle went from bad to worse as he was hit on a kickoff return to add more hurt to the situation.
That has resulted in just 48 yards in the last three games on 16 attempts. Forced to watch from the sidelines as the Tigers have struggled with three straight losses, McCalebb said it's tough to see the disappointment and not be able to help.
"It kind of hurts me sometimes," McCalebb said. "Sometimes I'm on the sideline and I'll be thinking what if I was in the game? I've never had an ankle injury, but sometimes it happens. You've just got to take it and run with it. It kind of hurts me sitting on the sideline and watching my offense and my teammates. I have to keep them up."
That lack of playing time and production came to a head last week at LSU as McCalebb had just three carries for three yards against the speedy Tiger defense. He was unable to get to the corner and force the defense to account for him. He said this week he's determined to be much closer to full speed to help the offense.
"It has been feeling a little tender," McCalebb said. "I didn't really get treatment on it that much last week because I had a rough schedule with classes. This week I'm going to get in there and get treatments every day so by Saturday against Ole Miss I'll be ready to roll."
Despite the losses and lack of production, the offensive players as a whole have not waivered in their belief that the unit is still good enough to win games and put up big numbers. McCalebb said right now the Tigers are focused on correcting mistakes and getting back to playing the way they're capable of playing.
"Our mindset is that we're good," McCalebb said. "We had a meeting today with the whole offense, just the players. We're going to go out there and do what we have to do like we did in the first five games. We have enough players on the offense to make plays. We've got to go out there and do what we do."