Doug Segrest: Auburn trounces Tulane, but running game still a concern


Joey Gatewood (1) Football vs Tulane on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics

The clock at Jordan-Hare Stadium wasn’t working early Saturday night due to a technical glitch. That was easily fixed.

It may take a little more time to fix Auburn’s offense.

For the second straight week, the 10th-ranked Tigers arrived late. Against Oregon a week ago, the offense didn’t show up until the fourth quarter.

In a 24-6 victory against Tulane, it was AWOL only a quarter before a passing game led by freshman quarterback Bo Nix began to click. But in a too-close-for-comfort win, it was a pretty one-sided approach.

Will Hastings, who seems to find seams in zones, struck first on the receiving end of a 31-yard touchdown pass from Nix after the Tigers spotted Tulane an early 3-0 lead.

Last week’s hero, Seth Williams, set up the second score with a leaping 40-yard grab but had to head to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury.

Nix remained cool and calm, and a week after shaking off the debut jitters he was more accurate. But the truth here is that he had to carry the Tigers’ offense Saturday night.

Don’t forget that the Oregon game may have been won by the pass from Nix to Williams, but it was set up by a resurgent running game. Against a Tulane team that remains an unknown, the running game was a non-factor until the Tigers took charge late, late in the third quarter.

That’s certainly not what the Auburn coaching staff wants. While Auburn has playmakers, it feeds off a downhill running game.

The most important stat Saturday night? Auburn improved to 2-0. If there was a hangover from the opener, it wasn’t obvious. This wasn’t about a letdown. This was about Tulane taking away half of Auburn’s offense.

With Kevin Steele’s defense, which limited the Green Wave to a pair of field goals but no sniff of the end zone, there’s no reason to hit the panic button.

But SEC play begins in two weeks, in College Station, Texas, no less. And the schedule from there, loaded with some superior defenses, offers few reprieves.

Right now, the passing game led by the fresh-out-of-high school quarterback is ahead of what is supposed to be the staple. With a Top 10 ranking and visions of grandeur, time to get the running game going is ticking.