October 6, 2012

Defense improving, but Tigers still in flux

AUBURN -- The talk around Auburn has been about improvement, about how the LSU game foreshadowed better days ahead.

We didn't see that Saturday.

Instead, an Auburn team without an offensive identity played like a team that lacks an offensive identity. Far too many drives were undermined by avoidable errors in the form of eight sacks, two red-zone interceptions, four penalties and another critical fumble from tailback Mike Blakely.

Nothing is working correctly for offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who looked a bit undone after the Tigers 24-7 loss to Arkansas. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he was just fed up with the serial inconsistency that somehow wrecks every plan he builds.

"Our deal is turnovers, red-area efficiency and ultimately winning the fourth quarter. We've been atrocious at all three," Loeffler said. "It's a combination of a lot of things. There's a lot of things we need to get right."

Saying that after the Clemson game is fine.

Saying that after getting blown out at home in October by a team that has accomplished almost nothing this season isn't going to work well. Loeffler and head coach Gene Chizik have said all along that Kiehl Frazier is the Tigers' future, but they pulled the plug on their grand experiment Saturday.

Frazier was so tentative during the first half that a change had to be made. There was no choice. The sophomore again was eyeing the rush at times rather than working through his progressions in a search for an open receiver.

Then in situations where the rush wasn't overwhelming, Frazier held the ball too long and conceded sacks. Was the protection poor? At times, yes. With that said, the offensive line can't be expected to block for 10 seconds with anything approaching regularity.

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