Sept. 22, 2013
Nick Marshall could get past LSU, but he's helped Auburn to a 3-1 start (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Rhett Lashlee says Auburn's off week has arrived at a good time, whether it's for reflection, for planning, for looking for consistency.
The Auburn offensive coordinator says the Tigers have improved in their first year with a new coaching staff. But he acknowledges the Tigers have been all over the place, often in the same game, whether it's compiling 333 yards in the second half of Saturday's game at LSU, or stumbling at the start in the 35-21 loss.
"Obviously, we could not have played worse in the first half," Lashlee said. "We didn't give our team a chance to win."
Still, Auburn is 3-1 heading into the bye week. A game against Ole Miss is next on the schedule, on Oct. 5 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Lashlee and head coach Gus Malzahn have time to review what has worked the best offensively after a third of the regular season.
"The next two weeks are huge," Lashlee said. "We have a young football team and we feel like we can really clean some things up. We'll work on us, a little bit; as well as worry about our opponent, which is a really good one.
"There's no doubt we've got to be able to play faster and more consistent, and it couldn't come at a better time for us to clean us up and get all those little things fixed, so the next time we have an opportunity to win a big football game, we can do it."
The early results:
•New quarterback Nick Marshall is in shouting distance of what Cam Newton did his first four games at Auburn. No, really. Marshall has 957 total yards after four games. Newton had 1,190 total yards.
•The Tigers have had three players rush for 100 yards. Corey Grant was first, Cameron Artis-Payne was second. Tre Mason went for 132 on 26 carries against LSU. Lashlee said he stuck with Mason because he had the "hot hand." He was a 1,000-yard rusher last season.
"Obviously, he was running so well we wanted him in there and to keep feeding him," he said.
Auburn is fourth in the SEC in rushing.
•Auburn's offensive line is improving. Lashlee said the line had its best game against LSU.
•The receivers are also improving, but Lashlee said Jaylon Denson is likely lost for the season with a knee injury he suffered against LSU. He had three catches for 45 yards this season.
•Auburn shown an ability to adapt. It put up big rushing numbers in the first two games, big passing numbers in the third game, and an almost dead-even stat sheet against LSU.
"In some areas, we're probably ahead of where I thought we'd be," Lashlee said. "What we're going to do tomorrow and the next couple of days is really be able to sit down and say, 'What are we good at? And where do we need to get better?' And not do things we're not good at. Let's really try to hone in on who we can count on, who's good at what we're good at, and who's going to give us the best chance to take that next step the last two-thirds of the season.
"I don't know if I had a preconceived idea of where we would be. There's been a lot happen. But the inconsistencies have been the No. 1 thing. We've got to get more consistent."
The LSU game was a ball of inconsistencies, from losing the first half 21-0, to hanging around by outscoring LSU 21-14 in the second half.
"We haven't put four quarters together yet. That's the disappointing thing," Lashlee said.
Video: Rhett Lashlee reviews his offense Sunday...
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine