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Opener proves AU not running on all cylinders


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Opener proves AU not running on all cylinders

Thursday, September 06, 2007

By PHILLIP MARSHALL

Times Sports Staff pmarsh9485@msn.com

Tigers' lack of fundamentals shows up against K-State

AUBURN - As Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran watched the tape of Auburn's 23-13 victory over Kansas State, he saw things to like. And he saw things he says must get better in a hurry if the Tigers are to avoid some unhappy Saturdays.

Sophomore Ben Tate ran for 82 yards on 23 carries. There were times when he looked like a big-time tailback and times when he looked like a first-time starter.

"Fundamentals are huge in what we teach," Gran said. "He graded out good there, but not great. He made all his blitz pickups, but he has to finish better and do the little things better."

Gran said Tate will have some time to watch against South Florida. Redshirt freshman Mario Fannin, who didn't play on offense against Kansas State, is slated to get his chance against the Bulls.

"He's had his best week of practice," Gran said.

Other than two missed holes, Gran said Tate was good with the ball under his arm when he had room to run.

"If we don't get a penalty that negates a 22-yard gain, we have a 100-yard rusher," Gran said. "If he doesn't miss those two holes, we get a 100-yard rusher. That's our goal."

Fullback Carl Stewart ran five times and netted just 4 yards. Gran said Stewart paid the price for missing most of preseason camp with a hamstring injury.

"We need a lot more production out of him if we are going to do what we want to do on offense," Gran said. "You could tell he hadn't been hit. He had seven real days of practice, and it showed up. He never got in one of our scrimmages. It's different when you are going against the scout team than when you get out there on Saturday night."

The 62 yards the Tigers netted on the ground against Kansas State didn't make anybody happy. Tate said it was partly on him, partly on the offensive line, partly on quarterback Brandon Cox, partly on the receivers.

And then there those who weren't there. Junior Brad Lester, the projected starter, is suspended. Junior Tristan Davis was on the sideline with a broken toe.

"It didn't really happen the way I wanted it to, but I just kept working hard and trying to encourage the offensive linemen," Tate said.

"Hopefully, we'll be 10 times better Saturday."

Stewart says South Florida's defense will be big trouble if the Tigers aren't better than they were in the opener.

"We definitely could have done worse, but we did pretty poorly out there," Stewart said. "There were a lot of missed assignments, a lot of small mistakes we shouldn't have made.

"There's always room for improvement, and we've got a whole warehouse full of room right now."

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couldn't this same type of article be written about our elon game?

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My point has been this whole time that Auburn doesn't need to click on all cylinders to beat us. Even if they do, I think our defense is good enough to stop Auburn. Brandon Cox is a veteran QB, their o-line is decent but they don't have a standout super star running back even if Brad Lester plays because Brad is slow. Their wide receivers aren't much to write home about right now. I think Tim Hawthorne has potential but he is only a sophomore. Preschae Rodriguez is alright but is nothing special.

We can stop Auburn's offense, the key will be to score enough points which will be difficult if our offensive line can't hold Auburn's defense in check.

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