Auburn football: Lashlee says running game 'average' against Bulldogs, Ellis Johnson lauds gains by Robenson Therezie, Brandon King

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 16, 2013 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Tre Mason and the rest of Auburn's running backs found it tough to find room against Mississippi State's defense. Averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, the Tigers didn't even gain half of that against the Bulldogs, finishing with 120 yards.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn had its lowest rushing output of the season in Saturday’s 24-20 victory over Mississippi State. Entering Saturday averaging close to 300 yards per game on the ground, the Tigers didn’t tally even half of that against the Bulldogs, finishing with 120.

As one would expect, Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee wasn’t pleased with the performance.

“I do think we should of run the ball better,” he said. “Now, they had a good plan. Geoff (Collins), their defensive coordinator, does a great job. They have some big guys upfront. I think their linebackers are big. No. 50 (Benardrick McKinney), the middle linebacker, is a really good football player. He made a lot of plays.”

Though his frustration at the running game’s lack of success boiled over Saturday, Lashlee said it didn’t look as bad once he got a chance to view it on film.

Much like the offense as a whole, the Tigers’ ground game was simply “average” Saturday, Lashlee said.

“We were just a guy sliding off a block too early here, a back missing a cut there, a wide receiver not blocking a guy he’s supposed to block for the bounce, those kinds of things,” he said. “Real close, but we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to be able to run the football better than that to have a chance, consistently. I feel like our whole offense is kind of in that same mold.”

Ellis Johnson praises Therezie’s play

Robenson Therezie has played well this season. So well, in fact, it forced the coaching staff to move the player he replaced in the starting lineup, Justin Garrett, to another position. Therezie, who has started all three games at the Tigers’ hybrid safety/linebacker position known as the “Star,” leads the team in both tackles (17) and interceptions (two).

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was pleased with the strides made by the Miami native this early in the season.

“I think he played better (than) the week before,” said Johnson, alluding to Therezie’s six tackles against the Bulldogs, including one for loss. “He certainly played better the first game, but he had a good solid game.”

Garrett’s move was also made due to the coaching staff's growing confidence in junior college transfer Brandon King.

“He's really coming along pretty well at the Star position,” Johnson said. “We feel comfortable about him going on the field as a backup to Therezie.”

Tigers find role for Frazier on offense

Much the way it did with Jonathan Wallace versus Arkansas State, Auburn found a way to get former quarterback Kiehl Frazier snaps with the offense last Saturday. The junior lined up as a “Wildcat” quarterback on three snaps, running the ball once for a four-yard gain.

Lashlee said the coaching staff settled on a few plays early last week they felt could take advantage of Frazier’s skill set.

“‘Hey, let’s get him involved a little bit,’” Lashlee said of the team’s thinking with Frazier. “I don’t see that anything has really changed overall other than we just felt like there were a couple of plays he had done in the past he would be good at so we got him involved a little bit.”

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