By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Rhett Lashlee found the good in the second half of Auburn's season opener in the form of more yards and more points than the first half, and even a chance to tie Clemson on the last play of the game.
But it was those first 30 minutes of the season in the 19-13 loss that was troublesome, so much so that the offensive coordinator said "the first half was unacceptable for what we do here at Auburn."
Auburn had 224 of its 262 yards in the second half, and will be looking to build on that momentum when it plays Arkansas State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"The second half we had seven drives, and six of them went into their territory because we were moving the ball, had a little more tempo," Lashlee said after Wednesday's practice.
Seventeen players played in their first Auburn game in the opener, including 11 true or redshirt freshmen. Lashlee said they'd have to find their way in a hurry rather than take three or four games to establish an offensive identity.
"We don't have that time. I think we have a good idea know of what we have and what guys can do."
Lashlee said the quarterback play was OK. "I think you take about four plays out and there was a lot of good things." And he said Sean White got better as the game went on.
"In the second half, I think he was able to get in there in get in a little bit of a rhythm. There wasn't a lot of inaccurate throws," Lashlee said. "We missed the one tight end throw, but other than that, I thought he played well. His one interception was fourth-and-goal. You've got to throw it and you've got to try and force it in a tight window. They had pretty good coverage on the play. He fought hard. He competed until the end."
Lashlee said the offense could make it easier on itself by doing better on first and second downs.
"It's critical because we were very poor on third down," he said. "We did some things right, but the biggest problem with our third downs was we were in third and long. We had two third-and-2 situations, so 15 times we were third-and-4 or more pretty much, and a lot of third-and-7, 8, 9, 10, 15s. It doesn't matter who you're playing or what you're doing, it'shard to convert those.
"We've got to be better on early downs to help our third-down situation. We've got to be able to throw and catch the ball and have better balance. The second half you saw parts of it, 48 plays and around 250 yards is a pretty good half against anybody, especially a Top 5 team. We just have to finish drives."
Lashlee also said…
*Freshman running back Kam Martin, who didn't play in the opener, has the "potential" to play Saturday.
"There are still guys who, depending on the situation, could play."
*The freshman wide receivers could see more action. Kyle Davis, who missed practice time with a foot injury, caught a long pass Saturday and he's catching up.
"This week has been really good for him. We had a couple more plays for him that he didn’t get in on."
Nate Craig-Myers is another freshman who could play more.
"He came on in on just a couple of plays. The way the game went, it was tight. I don’t fault Kodi (Burns) for wanting to go with the guys who have been there. But we’ve got to get those guys in the rotation more, because the only way they’re going to get better is to play. So I look for more guys to get more opportunities."
*Running back Kamryn Pettway will play more. He played sparingly in the opener and didn't get a carry.
"We have a lot of confidence in Kamryn. I think when he gets those opportunities. He'll do well."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine