Nov. 12, 2013
Rhett Lashlee, left, and Gus Malzahn talk Auburn offense (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Rhett Lashlee likes Auburn's running game, likes the way Nick Marshall runs the offense, likes the way the Tigers have put up points.
But the secret of Auburn's success may be the bonus of when plays work.
"Someone asked what's the best thing — confidence," Lashlee said. "Our guys are confident and it doesn't just happen overnight. I think they gained a little bit in spring and summer, but you find a way to beat a Washington State team early in the year in a tight game when things are unsure. New staff and all that. We win that game. To come back against Mississippi State was really big. I heard a lot of people say, hey, the way we fought in the second half at LSU. Probably a lot to that. You win a close game against Ole Miss. Those things all add up and it was just a situation where you have a couple of things go your way and your guys gain more confidence each time to at some point they start expecting to win."
That's where Auburn has been the second half of the season, rattling of six straight wins to improve to 9-1 heading into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn has confidence, and that goes hand in hand with learning more about the Rhett Lashlee/Gus Malzahn offense. Auburn is second in the SEC in total offense and leads the rushing stats by a huge margin.
It's been a learning process
"We’ve had more time with the guys. We feel like we know what they do well, what they don't, the situations to put them in," Lashlee said. "And so, the more and more you do it, the more of a team they become, the better they play together, the more on the same page they are, as well as us with them. I think it's probably a combination of those things."
It's also been the development of Marshall, previously seen in the SEC as a Georgia defensive back. He's been named the SEC offensive player of the week twice in the last four weeks, the last time Monday after rushing for 214 yards in last Saturday's win over Tennessee.
He's getting the hang of Auburn's zone-read offense that requires him to make a snap decision whether to hand off or keep it. The Tigers rushed for 444 yards against the Vols, mostly with Marshall at quarterback.
Marshall threw an interception at Tennessee, but has generally been smart with the ball.
"You'll notice a lot of times when things aren't there, he'll check down or take off or throw it away as opposed to trying to do something without really knowing what's going on," Lashlee said.
Lashlee said there is still things to be fixed, like footwork, and the "little things."
"But as far as the schemes, the big picture, I feel like Nick has a really good grasp of what we're doing now, which gives us more confidence in to run our offense, and it gives him more confidence and gives our team more confidence," Lashlee said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine