Auburn seeking answers to 4th-quarter woes
by John Zenor
AP Sports Writer
Oct 18, 2012 | 2217 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik leads the Tigers out of the tunnel and onto the field for their game against the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels beat the Tigers 41-20 to send Auburn's record to 1-5 on the season. (Photo by Trent Penny)
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik leads the Tigers out of the tunnel and onto the field for their game against the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels beat the Tigers 41-20 to send Auburn's record to 1-5 on the season. (Photo by Trent Penny)
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AUBURN (AP) — The Auburn Tigers surge toward the fans with four fingers upraised at the end of each third quarter to emphasize their intention of winning the final 15 minutes.

Holding up just three digits would symbolize how many points they've actually scored in the fourth quarter through six games.

The Tigers (1-5, 0-4 Southeastern Conference) have struggled mightily to close out games during their poor start. They've been outscored 62-3 in the fourth when penalties, turnovers and shaky quarterback play have been especially pronounced.

Auburn takes that disturbing trend into Saturday's game at Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-3), which has also been outscored 43-26 in the fourth while losing slim leads in the first two games against No. 9 South Carolina and Northwestern.

That pales when compared to Auburn's troubles finishing. Every other SEC team has scored at least 21 points in the final quarter.

"It's tough. It's really tough," Tigers defensive end Nosa Eguae said. "We're a team that prides itself on the fourth quarter. I've said that many a time, and you know, for us to play the way we have in the fourth quarter this season, it's tough. It's tough, but what are we going to do now? We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to go out there and work. We've got to go out there and execute and figure out what's going on in the fourth quarter and fix it."

There have been some issues consistently plaguing Auburn. The Tigers have committed nine turnovers and nine penalties in the fourth. They were down 24-20 after three quarters against Mississippi last weekend and allowed 17 unanswered points.

One penalty negated a shanked punt that would have set Auburn up in good field position and another on the subsequent drive wiped out a third-down conversion.

"We had our chances in the fourth quarter and again, the same things that have plagued us previously in the fourth quarter, snuck up on us again," Chizik said. "We've got to play better in the fourth quarter. I've always said it's execution and if you want to go into more details it's turnovers that we're not getting and turnovers we're committing. It's explosive plays that we're not getting and explosive plays that the opponent is. It's field position issues."

The Tigers dominated the fourth 128-56 two years ago during the national title season.

Now, Auburn hasn't scored in the quarter since a field goal in the opening game against Clemson.

Quarterbacks Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier have each thrown three fourth-quarter interceptions. They've combined for 56 passing yards in the fourth against Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU and Mississippi.

Guard Chad Slade said finishing strong has been a hot topic in practices and team meetings this week.

"We can't let mistakes keep getting to us," Slade said. "We have to come out there and execute what we have to do. We've been letting mistakes get to us in the fourth quarter. We have to slow down, we have to take our time, we have to do everything right.

"I believe that this week is going to be basically meant for that, going out there to execute the fourth quarter. The word of this week is probably finish."

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