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Auburn's offense on the go toward positive second half
Oct. 22, 2014

Quarterback Nick Marshall will have Auburn on the move in the second half of the season

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn can be even better on offense, Rhett Lashlee figures, and that's a good thing.

"If you felt like you were playing at the best level you could play at, you'd probably be a little worried," says the Tigers' offensive coordinator. 

Instead of sitting on some their successes in the first half of the year, he said, his players "are really hungry to improve and play well."

The first chance to do that is against South Carolina at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. But where is Auburn this very second? Third in the SEC in scoring and fourth in total offense. The Tigers are also averaging 6.4 yards on first down, 6.9 yards on second down and 7.8 yards on third down.

Lashlee said the Tigers "mixed and matched some things in the off week" on the offensive line after injuries sidetracked Auburn. He said freshman running back Roc Thomas can be a "real good complement" to fellow running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant going forward.
"It’s going to boil down to us being better the second half than we were the first half," Lashlee said. "Fortunately, when you are sitting here saying 'we’ve got to be a little better the second half of the season' and you’re still 5-1 and still got a chance to do all the things you want to accomplish, that’s a positive."

 Lashlee said Auburn's three interceptions, which is tied for the fewest in the SEC, have been the result of two tipped balls and a defender hitting quarterback Nick Marshall as he was throwing. The running game, which led the nation last year, is facing more defenses that are lining up to stop it.

"When you go through this league a second year, people are going to have a year to prepare for you," Lashlee said. "There are some really good coaches and really good defense. We have to execute better and be better rushing on first down.  It's not anything that is rocket science.

"I don't know if they are loading it as much, but they are definitely playing the run. Most teams that aren't pass-heavy only teams are going to be more run-oriented on first down. The big thing for us is when we do run it, four or five yards is really good. We have to be able to execute and get those. We also need to execute play-action and other things.

"We are going to be balanced. Being balanced, you have to be able to take what they give you. They are going to load up something. You have to have an answer and be able to execute that answer."

The return of Patrick Miller, who has been hurt, should help the offensive line, Lashlee said, as will freshman Braden Smith, who will get more time as a backup.

"We are just trying to make sure our depth is good and if certain situations arise we are ready to put guys where they need to be," Lashlee said. 

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



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