The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 11, 2012

Auburn still seeking offensive identity, QB

(Continued)

Chizik and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler made it clear that Auburn will be emphasizing the running game more behind a trio of tailbacks and fullback Jay Prosch.

"Who we are is this: We are going to run the football," Loeffler said.

No go-to tailback has emerged so far. Tre Mason leads the team with 307 yards, while Onterio McCalebb has 262 and Mike Blakeley has 114 — and a couple of fumbles likely limiting his carries.

The run distribution has varied widely all season. Mason, who has more of a mix of speed and power, had 22 carries for 90 yards against Louisiana-Monroe and has run only 15 times for 86 yards in the past two.

The speedy, 173-pound McCalebb ran for 128 yards against ULM in the team's lone win and has gained 48 since then. All three have had turns as Auburn's leading rusher in a game.

Running backward has been a big problem.

The Tigers are last nationally in turnover margin and in tackles for loss allowed at 9.2 per game, including 17 sacks, 10th-most. They have 202 negative yards. Auburn is 117th in scoring offense with a 15.4-point average per game and 113th with an average of 302.4 yards.

Their strength, if it can be called that, is the ground game. And that ranks 92nd.

"I want us to be able to have definitive ideas on exactly how we're going to run the football and stay with the plan, stay with the run gameplan," Chizik said. "The two things we're doing offensively right now that we've got to improve on is, we're taking tackles for losses that are not sack-related and we're taking too many sacks.

"We've got too many negative plays out there. We've got to be able to run the ball effectively and we've got to be able to protect the quarterback. And part of that is the quarterback getting the ball out of his hand and making quick decisions."

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