In all three of Auburn’s losses this season, the offense has struggled. Auburn put up 13 points against Florida, 20 against LSU and 14 against Georgia. The defense has held their own keeping the Tigers close in all contests, but the offense has failed to execute.
For the players though, adversity doesn’t mean it’s time to point fingers or put the blame on someone else.
“Obviously we’ve been struggling,” Will Hastings said. "Coach Malzahn brings it up and the leadership team brings it up. We’re a team. No matter what happens. We’ve had that issue in the past and we’ve seen how it hurts the team. I think we all bring up those offseason workouts we have with coach Russell. At that moment, you’re just a team — not an offense, defense, it's nothing. You’re just running together.”
Marlon Davidson echoed a similar sentiment.
“I’m behind them,” Davidson said. “I don’t care if they got negative 10 yards, negative 100 yards, I’m behind them because we went through summer workouts together. We went through spring together. We fought in fall camp. So I know I’m behind them no matter what and they’re behind me.”
In Saturday’s matchup with Georgia, Auburn again racked up yards but failed to capitalize. The team ended the game with 329 yards of offense, outgaining the Bulldogs by 71 yards. But similarly to Ole Miss, points didn’t come with the yards. For Hastings, that doesn’t necessarily mean all the blame falls on the coaches or specific players.
“We’re able to drive down the field and get to the red zone,” Hastings said. “We gotta do better in the red zone obviously. A lot of people want to blame it on the coaches. It’s not just the coaches, the players got to execute. It’s a team thing and everyone has to execute the best that they can. Some players are doing it, some players are not. Some coaches are doing it, some coaches are not. It’s just a whole team thing.”
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Directly following the loss to Georgia, Auburn star defensive tackle Derrick Brown didn't mince words.
“You can’t put the blame on nobody else,” Brown said. “Nobody did their job tonight. In all three phases, we lacked tonight. You can’t do that and come out and expect to beat a top five team in the country.”
For the Tigers, now completely out of the College Football Playoff discussion, they have a new goal.
“Our goal now is to win 10 games, which is extremely hard to do with the schedule like we have,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Our guys are putting it behind us. We’ve got Samford coming up. I think there are some things we can take from that fourth quarter that can help us the rest of the season.”
Auburn is not only searching for momentum to close what has been a difficult season, but wants to send its seniors out on a high note.
“That’s our new goal now,” Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene said. “That’s what we’re focused on right now, just finishing off strong, not only for us but our seniors. Just last two games here so it’s going to be special. This game and the Alabama game, just finishing off strong for them.”
Auburn will take on Samford in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 11:00 a.m. CST on Saturday. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
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