Following Auburn's loss to Georgia, Bryan Harsin's usual Monday press conference was a highlight of the Tigers' efforts to correct their mistakes before they head to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“There were opportunities for us to make plays, opportunities for us to coach better and to do things that we all can improve on and that’s what we have to take into this week,” said Harsin. “You’ve got to improve on things you know you haven’t worked hard enough at or that you still need to perfect.”
Auburn came into Saturday knowing that Georgia’s defense would be stiff competition and they left with that conclusion firmly solidified. The Bulldogs held Auburn to just 318 yards of total offense, which was limited largely due to Bo Nix going 23-43 on the day for passing.
Dropped balls were the sight of the game and Harsin recognized that this was detrimental to the team’s performance.
“The balance in the pass game has got to show up. You don’t want to just throw it to throw it, for statistics. You want to throw it so you can complete passes and move the ball,” Harsin said.
Another notable shift has been the decreased presence of Tank Bigsby, but nothing has been said about any injury. The offense rotates him in, but Jarquez Hunter and Shaun Shivers have taken a substantial part of the role as well.
“It’s not just Tank, it’s everybody on the offensive side of the ball that has to be able to do that,” Harsin said. “Everyone has a piece of the pie when it comes to the run game and that continues to be something that we’ve got to focus on, and doing the things we know we’re capable of doing, but doing them consistently.”
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Auburn averaged 1.6 yards per rush on 29 total attempts, which comes about because the Tigers lost 47 yards to their 93 gained, leaving only 46 yards of forward progress.
Freshman tight end Landen King also made a brief appearance for Auburn towards the end of the game. Harsin says with his efforts on scout team may provide additional playing opportunities later in the season.
“He’s worked really hard. He’s showed up on scout team, which earned him opportunities to get out there with the offense and contribute and be a part of that. At the end of the day, we’re still competing within our team. That never ends,” Harsin said. “Everybody on this team I hope wants to be out there and play.”
Harsin revisits his philosophy on offensive balance each week, which came into focus this week as the Tigers scrambled to compete with an unbalanced approach. With the run game being stuffed so effectively, Auburn had to shift to the air to even begin to stay in the game.
“Ideally, you want to run the football. One way to do that is stop losing early,” Harsin said. “You start kind of looking at the end of the game, you’ve got to throw it because you’re losing. We’ve got the keep the ball game closer so you can run the ball more effectively.”
These struggles will be at the forefront Saturday after the Razorbacks put up an offensive fight in a 52-51 loss to Ole Miss. Even if the Auburn defense shows up to combat that scoring power, the offense will have to get on the board to keep the game close.
“That’s the identity that we’re working towards, being a team that can run the ball, that can be physical. Yes, we want to be downhill and all of those things, but we have to actually do that,” Harsin said. “We’re just going to have to keep working.”
With a road game against a high-scoring team, Auburn’s simple goal will be scoring enough points to keep the game within a winnable margin. If the offense can get that done, they could come away with a much-needed win.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to stay in the ball game,” Harsin said.
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