Sep 9, 2013
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn talks with offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, left, and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson (Todd Van Emst photo)
AUBURN, Ala. – Rhett Lashlee, Auburn’s offensive coordinator, saw his players playing hard in last Saturday’s 38-9 romp past Arkansas State.
He saw them doing some of the things it will take to win in more demanding games to come. But he also saw some things that must change, starting with Saturday’s Southeastern Conference opener against Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“Overall, the No. 1 thing that sticks out is discipline,” Lashlee said. We can’t beat ourselves. We are definitely not good enough to do that.”
Auburn’s offense was hit with four holding penalties. There was a lost fumble and two others fumbles that weren’t lost.
“We talk about it over and over again,” Lashlee said. “At some point it has to become a habit. That football is the most important thing we’ve got. We can’t put our defense in those situations. They were fortunate to bail us out.
“And then penalties. We’re not good enough to go backward to go forward. When we get into league play, if you make a long run and get the ball to the 8 and all of a sudden you are back on the 40, you can’t overcome those things very often. We have to clean all that up.”
Your daily Ford/Garrett medical update
Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says he isn't sure when injured defensive end Dee Ford or injured star Justin Garrett will return. They both practiced last week, but didn't play Saturday.
"Most of these things have been pretty much right-up-until game time," Johnson said. "Some of it, we've been very cautious. Some of it has been a doctor's decision."
Ford is out with a knee injury. Garrett is dealing with a hurt foot.
"We're going to err on the side of caution with Dee,” Lashlee said. “Justin's foot, they're still trying to work it on rehab. It's just going to be day to day."
-- Charles Goldberg
Justin DeLaine vying for time at rush end
Backup defensive lineman Justin DeLaine had two tackles against Arkansas State, and one of them helped keep momentum on Auburn's side. It was for a 6-yard loss. That was noted by defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who could use Delaine and Keymiya Harrell more.
"Two guys that could really become what we need with the physical traits we’re trying to have at our rush end spots, particularly on third down but even on every down," Johnson said.
“Of Delaine, Johnson said, "We know what he can do physically. He’s just got to be a consistent player. He’s got to practice consistently, has got to develop himself into a dependable, every-down player that can do things right."
-- Charles Goldberg
Marshall makes progress at quarterback
Junior college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall, in his second Auburn start, threw his first two touchdown passes. He made plays with his arm and his leg. There were definite signs of progress, Lashlee said. But more is needed.
“As the game went on, we had some ups and downs, but as a whole, I felt like he felt more comfortable,” Lashlee said. “That’s going to have to continue, because we’re going to have to make a lot of plays in the passing game in conference play.”
Looking for more hurry in the hurryup
Auburn’s hurryup, no-huddle offense isn’t yet hurrying enough to suit Lashlee and head coach Gus Malzahn.
“It wasn’t fast enough,” Lashlee said. “We worked on that tonight. We weren’t fast enough. That’s the bottom line. We had more opportunities because we were somewhat, at times, moving the ball consistently. We still had that same lull in the second quarter.
“To meet our standard, we have to be better and cleaner and getting lined up ready to roll.”
A role for Jonathan Wallace
Backup quarterback Jonathan Wallace played in both of Auburn’s first two games, and Lashlee said the plan is for that to continue.
“Jonathan is somebody we can trust,” Lashlee said. “We try to find ways to keep him very involved. There are always going to be times week to week we try to use him. It may be the same each week, it might be different. That’s a week to week deal.
“He’s a strong runner, he’s smart, he’s tough. He’s going to make good decisions, whether it’s throwing the ball or in the read game. We just try to find ways to plug him in when it’s advantageous for us.”