Barrett Trotter is not.
When asked about that, the Auburn quarterback got testy. But he also tried to point out his perceived irrelevance to the situation.
“We’re focused on the defense,” he said. “I don’t watch any film on anybody else’s offense. I could care less what he thinks he can do or what he’s done in the past. I don’t really care as long as the defense knows what he’s doing I’m going to leave it up to them.”
If Trotter words were abrupt, it could be because Auburn’s normally high-flying offense has been operating a little closer to the ground lately.
Auburn (4-1, 2-0) took it totally old school last week in a 16-13 victory South Carolina. With tailback Mike Dyer lead the way with a school-record 41 rushing attempts, the Tigers kept it on the ground 67 times out of 92 plays. Dyer went for 141 yards of the 246 yards total. And that represented all but 112 yards of the Tigers’ total offense.
As he defended his individual
performance against Wilson’s, Trotter also defended his offense’s approach to the upset win.
“Some of the defenses South Carolina was running obviously were good for us against the run,” Trotter said. “We thought we could pound it on them. We did.
“… We tried to make a point — that we could run the ball against them and we did.”
The ground approach may continue on Saturday against Arkansas. The Razorbacks rank ninth in the SEC against the run, allowing 168.2 yards per game.
“We’re a downhill running team first and play-action after that,” said Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. “We just gave Mike the ball and watched what he did with it …. I think we’re going to have to ride those guys a lot coming in the next couple weeks.”
Still, there is a nagging concern on Auburn’s part that the Tigers aren’t getting enough out of the passing game, particularly when it comes to big plays. Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn echoed Lutzenkirchen’s comments, but wasn’t completely without concerns.
“We just got to make people pay when they bring extra guys down,” he said. “We were close on a couple last Saturday but it would have made me feel a little bit better if we had hit a couple of those and put it in the end zone.”
The Tigers threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns in their season-opening victory over Utah State. But Auburn has thrown for less than 200 yards in each successive game, with last week’s 112 yards constituting a season low.
The Tigers’ longest pass play this season covered 56 yards.
“Anytime any part of your football team is not being productive, there’s always concern,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. “It’s always something we’re looking at trying to figure out ways to improve it.”
Compounding the problem this week is the fact that the Tigers will likely be without two of its best playmakers in the passing game. Wide receiver Trovon Reed is definitely out, and leading receiver Emory Blake is doubtful because of a sprained ankle.
Blake has accounted for four of the Tigers’ nine passing touchdowns.
But part of the problem lies with Trotter’s lack of mobility while operating behind an inexperienced offensive line. Auburn has allowed 12 sacks and Trotter has thrown five interceptions, most coming in the face of a strong pass rush. Trotter also isn’t much of a treat to run with 28 carries for 32 yards.
“It’s protection, quarterback delivering and receivers being on the same page,” Malzahn said. “It’s a little bit of all of them.”
Charles Bennett covers Auburn University sports for The Star. Follow him on Twitter @AUTigers_Star.