While Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier has taken the brunt of the blame for the offensive struggles after two poor performances, the Tigers problems aren't limited to just the play of the sophomore. The running backs have been inconsistent in finding the right running lanes, causing the running game overall to be up and down.
Up front, the offensive line has been just about what you would expect from a group that features two new freshmen tackles and played the first week with a little-used sophomore center. With starter Reese Dismukes back in the middle last week and facing a stingy Mississippi State defense, Auburn needed to step up its game on the offensive line and instead went backwards. Unable to move the football on the ground consistently, Auburn's offensive attack stalled repeatedly and forced to throw the ball on obvious passing situations. That wasn't what coach Jeff Grimes was looking for out of his group in week number two.
"As always there was some good and some bad," Grimes said. "Overall I was disappointed we didn't execute better. I think our effort was pretty good. This is always the case with offensive football, but the difference in my opinion at this level is that the defenses are so good all it takes is one guy being off. All the little things can make the biggest difference in the world. Sometimes I thought we were right on the verge of turning a four-yard run into a long run, and just didn't quite make it happen. Overall there were some good things for the young guys to build on and learn from.
With both tackles showing improvement and guard Chad Slade having a better performance on the right side, there are some bright spots on the offensive line for Grimes. He said it was nice to have starting center Reese Dismukes back up front and he didn't see any chemistry issues at all with him back in the rotation.
"It was good," Grimes said. "He did a great job. Reese always plays hard and he's so smart. He does a great job with all the identification we need him to do in our run game and protections. He did a really good job in that regard and our communication was really good on the road. We had very few communication issues."
Before the start of the season Grimes said there could be changes up front with several backups performing well in practice and pushing the starters. Redshirt freshman Christian Westerman was the first of that group to get some playing time last week with several series in the fourth quarter replacing senior John Sullen. Grimes said Westerman did well in his limited time and could see more action this season.
"He did a good job," Grimes said. "I was pleased and really glad that he had an opportunity. I felt like it would be a good chance to get him in there. He went in there and played hard. He didn't have a deer in the headlights look like a lot of guys have their first time in there. He went in and played just like practice. We're continuing to try to send a message to our team that we're not anywhere near where we need to be at this point so competition is ongoing. That's definitely the case with him and one or two other guys as well."