Chizik: Offense needs improving

Published 8:51 pm Sunday, September 13, 2009

AUBURN — For a coach whose team just piled up 390 yards rushing for a 49-27 victory of Mississippi State on Saturday night, Auburn’s Gene Chizik didn’t sound too happy with the Tigers’ offense.

Happy with his first Southeastern Conference win? Yes.

Pleased with the way his three units — offense, defense and special teams — worked together? Sure.

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But offense? Not yet.

“We’ve certainly got a long way to go to where we want to be,” Chizik said after the game. “The offense was sporadic at times.”

But Coach, you had two 100-yard rushers and one 100-yard receiver in the same game for the first time in the school’s history. And the first time for back-to-back double 100-yard rushers.

“There’s so much room to improve,” said Chizik, whose Tigers pounded out 589 yards of offense in front of a crowd of 85, 269 in Jordan Hare Stadium.

Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week Onterrio McCalebb had his second 100-yard game with 16 totes for 120 yards.

Senior BenTate led all runners with 20 carries for 159 yards.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, directing the Bulldogs in his first SEC game as head coach, said Auburn’s running game crushed MSU.

“They had two guys that had over 100 yards rushing and at times we did a good job,” he said. “We just gave up big plays. You can’t do that; you can’t give up third down and longs. That going to come back and get you.”

Mississippi State put a second-quarter scare into the Tigers with 17 unanswered points to take a 17-14 lead.

But Auburn answered with its own 11 points for the 28-17 halftime advantage.

Auburn scored first 12 minutes into the game when junior wide receiver Kodi Burns got three direct snaps starting from the MSU 10-yard line.

He went into the end zone at the 8:13 mark from the 1-yard line for the TD.

On the night, he got 10 snaps for three rushing touchdowns and one passing score.

The Tigers added seven points on defense when senior defensive end Antonio Coleman — who’s on at least five national watch lists — picked off his first career interception and returned it 20 yards, diving just inside the right pylon for the touchdown.

Then Mississippi State got the scoring bug with a 12-play, 83-yard drive. Anthony Dixon rushed for 10, 2, 2 (when the apparent TD was reviewed), 0 and the scoring 1-yard run with 12:05 left until the half.

The Bulldogs settled for a 29-yard Sean Bruchie field goal after a 38-yard drive stalled at the Auburn 12-yard on fourth-and-goal. MSU jumped when sophomore running back Robert Elliott ran a blocked punt 10 yards for the go-ahead touchdown at the 4:44 mark.

Auburn had the opportunity for one score — a five-play, 80-yard drive, ending with McCalebb’s 48-yard dash around left end.

The Tiger defense, however, held Mississippi State on downs and Auburn got the ball with 1:39 to play at its own 22-yard line.

Three passes to sophomore wide receiver Darvin Adams accounted for 69 yards to the MSU 1, where Burns picked up his second 1-yard TD run with 16 seconds until halftime.