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'Timely and needed': Auburn finds more big plays
Oct. 4, 2015

Roc Thomas adds some pop to Auburn's offense against San Jose State

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Five explosive plays Saturday is something to build on, says Rhett Lashlee, who will be looking for more the next time Auburn plays.

The Tigers' offensive coordinator watched Auburn break loose for those season-high five plays of 20 yards or more in Saturday's 35-21 win over San Jose State, and can use this week's open date to figure out how to get even more.

"We still didn't have the number that we would like, but the ones we got were timely and needed," Lashlee said Sunday. "If you just look at our touchdown drives, just about everyone had one in it."

Lashlee said Roc Thomas, Ricardo Louis and Duke Williams had explosive plays in touchdown drives. Peyton Barber finished the day off with a 36-yard touchdown run. The NCAA says any play of 20 yards or more is explosive.

"If you can get an explosive play on a drive, your odds of scoring a touchdown go up greatly, so that’s going to continue to be a point of emphasis," Lashlee said. "We're starting to execute at a better level."

Auburn can work on that during this open week before playing at Kentucky on Thursday, Oct. 15, that leads up to a trip to Arkansas, a home game against Ole Miss and then a road trip to Texas A&M.

Lashlee suggested running back Kerryon Johnson may get more chances for big plays as the Wildcat quarterback. He made his Wildcat debut Saturday. "That's something that he'll be very good at," Lashlee said.

Big plays or not, Auburn mostly was a blue-collar team Saturday, giving the ball to Barber 28 times, watching him gain 147 yards.

And, oh, yeah, score five touchdowns.

"He was fortunate to get a couple right there on the 1- or 2-yard line, he did a nice job of punching it in, something we did better this week than we did the week before," Lashlee said. "But he tends to get better as the game wears on. When we needed to try to run the ball to put the game out of reach at the end, he had threat nice long run and just did a good job of closing things out."

Lashlee also said Thomas "played really well."

"I thought he gave us some explosive plays with the screen pass and with some runs. He did run hard and physical, which is what we need him to do. He did a good job of protecting the football. Roc is one of those guys that has some explosive capabilities and he catches the ball well, too. We need to get a guy like him to play like he did for us to be successful."

Quarterback Sean White was the guardian of the plan, throwing just 10 passes.

"He did everything we asked him to do, made really good decisions, made a couple of really good throws, took a few shots and he managed the game the way that game unfolded very well," Lashlee said.

Lashlee shrugged off throwing it only 10 times. Barber's five touchdown runs supported the plan.

"We were up 21-7 at half and we ran, I think, 30 plays in the first half," he said. "We were having success running the football."

Then Auburn played keep-away with the run game while resting its defense.

"We were never in a situation where we had to throw it a lot and we were running it effectively. It wasn’t planned."

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



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