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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Auburn players: Offense can, will go faster

Auburn's offense ran 79 plays in Saturday's 37-13 win against Louisiana Tech, but the Tigers didn't think that was nearly enough.

“We are not anywhere close to be satisfied with the rhythm and the tempo of our offense right now," head coach Gene Chizik said. "We’re not close. Again, as we said, we did some nice things, but our tempo and the pace of our offense was not one of the things that we were satisfied with. It has got to be faster.”

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has based his entire offensive theory on being fast, hoping to keep the defense on its heels and prevent it from substituting.

"Everybody doesn’t have problems against a faster paced offense, but if you do it’s usually because you get lost in the details of your defense,"Chizik said. "Because you are so busy trying to get everybody lined up, and mentally your players are thinking ‘My goodness, by the time I get back they are ready to snap the ball again.’ And after a quarter and a half, two quarters of that, I think it starts to wear on people mentally. If they have problems with it, some people don’t.”

Malzahn's offense, at least when he was the offensive coordinator last year at Tulsa, took a while to get up to speed. The Golden Hurricane averaged 73.2 plays in the first five games last season. In the final nine games, Tulsa averaged 82.2 plays per game, topping 90 in its final two contests.

Auburn's players thought they could have gone faster if they had a little cooperation.

"We were ready," guard Byron Isom said. "I felt like it was the referee. He was standing over the ball holding us back a lot. We just have to get up there quicker and get set up quicker, so we're ready to go."

I'm sure Malzahn will weigh in on this issue later tonight. Until then, here are some other notes and quotes from late last night and early today ...
  • We had a late interview with defensive coordinator Ted Roof last night, so I didn't get to the interview until this morning. He said Auburn will have its hands full defending a spread offense like Mississippi State's. "What's tough preparing for is you know they're probably going to progress schematically each week as far as they're going to add some things and if you go back and look at the Florida tapes, you don't know where," he said. "You've got to make a decision where you cut it off, because there was so much. So the unknown is what's concerned. But they did a good job last week of executing their offense and were very efficient."
  • Roof wasn't crazy about the penalties his defense accrued last week, even if they were penalties of aggression (ie. face mask, pass interference). "You don't ever accept them because they hurt the football team," he said. "There are going to be penalties at times and you've certainly got to play through them. But they kept us on the field. If you look back at what happened after we committed those penalties, bad things happened. We had chances to get off the field and didn't. You just keep playing aggressive and you've got to correct them and discuss them and get them out there to correct them. But at the same time, just like anything else in football, when some adversity strikes or something bad happens, you've got to be able to play through it. You've got to tackle it on both fronts."
  • Roof said DT Nick Fairley graded out better from a production standpoint than an assignment standpoint, meaning he's got some work to do to be better with his technique and alignments.
  • Roof on his first Tiger Walk: "I about had to get IV'd after Tiger Walk. I was in a suit and tie and was drenched after the Tiger Walk. That is something. That is quite an experience that I think is very, very unique to Auburn. It was a fantastic atmosphere. It was great to be a part of it. It was great to be on the home sideline in one of those stadiums instead of being on the visiting sideline in one of those places. It was a great experience."
  • Here's freshman safety Daren Bates' recollection of his Welcome to College moment: "Actually when I went to get my first tackle and I tried to wrap up, he just ran through my arms. I was like 'OK, you've got to take a different approach to it.' That was my first one right there and I knew I had to adjust to make a better effort."
  • Bates played against MSU freshman receiver Chad Bumphis last year and still keeps up with him. Bumphis, who's from Tupelo, Miss., caught two passes for two touchdowns in his college debut. "He's mobile, very athletic, fast," Bates said.
  • Chizik on spreading carries around to different running backs: “We are always looking for guys that can help take some of the load off our main guys. We feel that there are some guys on the right track, with running the football, but the more the merrier. With the whole season ahead of us, there are not too many weeks for us to catch our breath going all the way up to the Alabama game, it’s going to be a long season. Especially once we get into the meat of the SEC schedule, I think it’s important to have two or three running backs.”
  • Running back Ben Tate said the offense wasn't happy with its production Saturday, despite putting up 556 yards. "Like coach said, we should have had 700 yards of offense," he said. "We should have had 400 yards rushing. There were just some things, first-game jitters and getting back into the groove of things."

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