By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn didn't have time to dwell on Saturday night's loss to Texas A&M. He had to think about playing LSU.
"We've got to figure out a way to get better. That's what's on our minds," the Auburn coach said.
A&M beat Auburn 29-16 in Jordan-Hare Stadium despite a sound effort from the defense. Now, the Tigers must ready for its third nationally-ranked opponent in the first four games of the season, this time LSU coming Saturday.
Malzahn said the Texas A&M game turned in the third quarter when Auburn wasted opportunities.
"We were in a dogfight," Malzahn said.
The Aggies led 16-10 at the half. When the third quarter was done, it was 19-10.
"That was an extremely tough loss," he said. "I really thought the third quarter was the key to the game."
Auburn started its first two drives of the third quarter with good field position, at its 35 and 42-yard line. But the Tigers also put themselves in difficult situations in the quarter: There was a second-and-17 in one drive, a second-and-21 in another.
Malzahn said the game turned when the Tigers found themselves in "plus territory," but then had negative plays.
"The inconsistency on offense was the key to the game.
"We have to find a way to get better. We just weren't consistent enough to win the game."
"I thought our defense played very well. They gave our offense a ton of opportunities and the offense just couldn't seize the moment."
Malzahn didn't blink when talk turned to an offense that scored a touchdown early, another late, but only a field goal in between. He changed quarterbacks in the fourth quarter, going from Sean White to John Franklin III. History will say they both led Auburn to a touchdown.
"We felt like we needed a shot in the arm, so we gave John Franklin a chance and he did a good job moving the football," Malzahn said.
"I thought he did some good things. He created some things for us when the protection broke down and made a couple of good throws. He's still learning the offense, but I think he gave us a spark."
He said White looked comfortable "when he had time."
Malzahn the next step is "to work hard, you've got to coach them up, you've got to give them a good plan and we've got to go out there and execute. We've got to improve. The thing about this offense is that we will improve.
"We're playing some young, inexperienced guys. We've got to figure out a way to come out and play better on offense and play better as a team."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine