Rhett Lashlee: Nine pass attempts versus Arkansas simply the way game unfolded

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 4, 2013 

Auburn vs Arkansas

Nick Marshall gears up to pass during the first half of its game against Arkansas on Nov. 2. The Tigers have thrown the ball just 16 times in the past two weeks, but head coach Gus Malzahn is looking for better pass protection in this Saturday's game against Georgia. Todd Van Emst

TODD J. VAN EMST — Todd J. Van Emst

AUBURN, Ala.Nick Marshall’s shoulder felt good enough the coaching staff was comfortable starting him last Saturday.

However, he didn’t take near as many shots downfield as normal, his 88-yard scoring strike to Sammie Coates notwithstanding. Rhett Lashlee said the team’s decision to go with more of a quick-toss, short-yardage philosophy was due more to the way Arkansas played defensively than any attempt to rein Marshall in.

“They were bringing the safeties the safeties down and squeezing their linebackers in, they’re giving you bubble screens, they’re giving you little hitches, they’re giving you those things,” the offensive coordinator said. “That was kind of what happened.”

In sum, the Tigers threw only nine times Saturday. Once more, Lashlee said it had nothing to do with a specific game plan of running the ball a vast majority of the time. Instead, it was just the way the game played out.

“We drive eight or nine plays to start the game, having a good little drive and then we mess up our self with a penalty, so we stall,” he said. “The next thing we know, our defense gets a fumble and we score in two plays. Then, I don’t remember what happened there but we get the ball — oh, they kick an onside kick. We score in like, three plays. So there really haven’t been a lot of opportunities to throw the ball, especially since you’re running it and you’re getting 10 yards a clip.”

Given how well the Tigers are running the ball this season — they are leading the SEC in rushing at 306.2 yards per game, after all — it’s easy to see why they rarely put the ball in the air. But Lashlee knows there will likely be a game in the near future that calls for them to implement a pass-happy approach in order to emerge victorious.

When that day arrives, Lashlee was certain his unit would be ready.

“We’ve got plenty of things we can do each week,” he said. “Each game is different. (Whether) it’s that they play you different, which they did not, or just the way they unfold. Just trust me. We know it’s going to happen — a game where we have to win the game throwing the football. … When it happens, I feel confident that our guys are going to be able to do it.”

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