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Run-pass option: Auburn has a choice against LSU

Sept. 21, 2013

Rhett Lashlee offers some advice Friday in Tiger Stadium at LSU (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Charles Goldberg

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Auburn showed it was a running team in the first two games, a passing team in the next. 

What will the Tigers do against LSU in tonight's 6:45 game in Tiger Stadium? 

It will likely depend on how LSU's defense plays it, and when the rain stops. Auburn woke up today to a rainy day in Baton Rouge, so much so that some of the university's soggy parking lots around the stadium are closed for the game; and a road and underpass are closed because of flooding. And while the rain is suppose to start diminishing around kickoff, a wet field could play a role. 

Auburn will be looking for its first win here since 1999. Both teams are 3-0, but LSU is more than a two-touchdown favorite. 

Can Auburn be mudders? Not a bad idea, especially since offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee is looking more from its running game after being held to 120 yards on the ground the last time out. But Mississippi State made it that way by using a defense that sold out to stop the run and put the game in the hands of Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall. 

He responded with 339 yards passing, 361 yards overall. 

Now LSU has to decide to play the run, which is Auburn's first option on offense; play the pass, because Marshall threw for the most Auburn yards since 2005; or play a balanced defense. 

Auburn has given LSU something to think about, especially after Marshall's third game as an SEC quarterback. 

"I think he is throwing the ball better," said LSU coach Les Miles. "I think they have a good schemes. They are a balanced offense, both run and pass. I think they are improved." 

Lashlee has been thinking, too, and wants more. 

"We have been working hard trying to continue to get more continuity and get better each week with the passing game," he said. "We know we're going to have to throw the ball at times to win football games in our league. We're going to have to be balanced and be able to take what defenses give us. 

"Defenses are going to try to make you either run it or throw it, one or the other. We've had two good games running the football so it was no surprise that Mississippi State was trying to load up to stop the run. We were able to make some plays in the passing game, which I think was big."

Auburn rushed for 295 yards in a win over Washington State and 301 in a win over Arkansas State. Still, Lashlee said, "We're average right now. We're doing some good things, but we're also doing some things we can't do. But I feel like we have the ingredients if we keep improving to have a decent offense and have a good season offensively."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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