Chizik not happy with AU’s performance

Chizik not happy with Auburn's performance against Utah St.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik was relieved – but not pleased – after his team’s furious fourth-quarter comeback to beat Utah State on Saturday.

That hadn’t changed Sunday, as the No. 23 Tigers set about preparing for their SEC opener against No. 20 Mississippi State on Saturday.

“We have been spending a lot of time today going back and re-evaluating yesterday’s game,“ Chizik said Sunday. “Spending a lot of time getting some of the issues worked out so we can obviously play better than we did this past week in order to have a chance to play well against Mississippi State.”

For Chizik, most of Auburn’s Saturday struggles boiled down to its play on the offensive and defensive lines.

The Tigers’ rush defense, which gave up an average of 109.1 yards a game, surrendered 227 to the Aggies on Saturday.

Auburn’s rush offense, which averaged 284.8 yards a game last season, ran for 78 yards on 30 carries Saturday, the first time since 2008 the Tigers had rushed for fewer than 100 yards.

“We’ve got to get the running game going. That’s the glaring issue from yesterday,“ Chizik said. “We’ve got to get the front cleaned up so that whether it’s a running back or tailback, either one of them have the opportunity to run the ball.”

Defensively, Chizik said the Tigers cycled in six linemen and five defensive ends over the course of the game, all but two of them freshmen or sophomores.

Chizik said the plan is to continue getting snaps for around that many players in the coming weeks.

But they need to shape up soon, with the Bulldogs coming to town fresh off a school-record, 645-yard performance against Memphis on Thursday.

“One thing I’m hoping is that a lot of the guys that haven’t played much understand what it’s going to take on game day to take this to another level now that they’ve got one game of experience under their belt,“ Chizik said. “They’ve got to understand this will be a whole new level.

“I have no reason to believe and I fully expect us to be a better football team next week than we were this past week.”

Cam who?
Both Chizik and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said they’ve moved on from the Cam Newton controversy that embroiled both teams last season.

Newton’s father, Cecil, was found to have solicited money for his son’s signature during his recruitment to Mississippi State in 2009, and Mullen – or other Bulldog staff members – were widely suspected to be some of the sources behind stories leaking that disparaged the quarterback.

“I have moved on,” Chizik said. “I’m worried about Mississippi State.”

“The Cam Newton situation to me ended almost two years ago,” Mullen said. “I never really thought of it much. I did when we played them last year because I know he’s a very good football player.

“I think Gene is a good football coach and I imagine everything he does, he does the right way with his program. None of that would ever even be a factor in my mind.”

Chizik said he and Mullen haven’t had much interaction with each other outside of gamedays and SEC meetings.

“I don’t know him other than that,” Chizik said.

Frazier’s first
Chizik said Auburn wouldn’t have burned freshman Kiehl Frazier’s redshirt for one play if the team didn’t have a plan for the quarterback going forward.

Frazier took a snap in the third quarter Saturday and threw a lateral to Clint Moseley, who found Onterio McCalebb on a wheel route for a 25-yard gain.

“Our plans are to just keep helping him grow, keep helping him get a comfort level with the offense where he feels like he’s got some confidence in whatever those roles are in what we’re asking him to do,” Chizik said.

Status checks
Chizik said junior defensive end Joel Bonomolo did not dress out for Saturday’s game because he is “beat up and banged up.”

The head coach also did not have an update on junior linebacker Jonathan Evans, who led the team with 14 tackles Saturday but was shaken up on the Tigers’ successful onside kick in the fourth quarter.

Junior John Sullen started, but did not finish, the game at right guard, being pulled for sophomore Blake Burgess.

Chizik said Sullen was removed because he was “banged up” and not for any performance reasons.

The head coach said Sullen is “fine” now and doesn’t expect there to be any change in his starting spot.

Chizik also declined to go into detail about senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman’s situation, other than to reiterate he was deemed ineligible for Saturday’s game by the NCAA for a “clerical issue,” and that the Tigers are “looking forward to getting him back this week.”

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