Auburn only scored nine points in its loss to Mississippi State on Saturday, but coach Gus Malzahn complimented his offense on Monday.
“For the first time I felt like we were in rhythm,” Malzahn said on his radio show.
With quarterback Sean White playing in his first career game, Auburn had its second-best game of the season in terms of total yardage, with 389. Auburn had 401 yards against Jacksonville State, but that game went into overtime.
The problem for Auburn’s offense came in the red zone, where the Tigers scored six points in four trips. Kicker Daniel Carlson also missed a 26-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
Auburn could not take advantage of the team’s strong defensive effort.
“Our defense played its best game,” Malzahn said. “The big problem was our offense couldn’t respond.”
The offense did not put up points on Saturday, but there were signs that improvement could be coming.
Through four games, Auburn is averaging 66.5 plays per game, but on Saturday the team ran a season-high 78 plays. This points to the rhythm that Malzahn referenced on Monday night. Auburn was able to move the ball and pick up the tempo that had been missing in previous games.
Under Malzahn, Auburn has become known for explosive plays, but those plays have been absent in the early going.
Last season, through four games, Auburn was averaging 6.6 yards per play. That is all the way down to 5.2 yards this season.
“We’ve yet to get in that rhythm,” Malzahn said about picking up big chunks of yardage. “We knew there would be growing pains.”
Auburn still has a lot of room for improvement, but the offense looked the best it has all season with White at quarterback. The Tigers also rushed for a season-high 201 yards.
Now, the challenge is turning that success into victories.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Malzahn said. “I still feel very strongly this team will finish strong.”
Gus Malzahn on young team: "We knew there were going to be some growing pains." "They got to grow up quickly." #Auburn
— Jordan James (@JJ_AJC) September 29, 2015