November 10, 2013

The winning formula

AUBURN | The concept of balance, at least as it relates to the world of Auburn football, was redefined Sunday night.

The common definition involves a nearly even distribution between runs and passes. Yet the Tigers, who have attempted a total of 16 passes versus 99 rushing plays during the past two games, have achieved a type of balance that pleases offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee more than any traditional concept.

"Balance is taking what the defense gives you -- plain and simple," Lashlee said. "Just about everything time we called a run (Saturday), we were getting eight to 12 yards a play. The way we were running the ball, there was no need to do anything other than run the ball. That's just plain and simple."

It's impossible to argue with Lashlee's premise.

Auburn is averaging 320 rushing yards per game, which leads the Southeastern Conference. In fact, that tally leads most conferences.

Only Army and New Mexico gain more yards on the ground.

Recent numbers have bordered on absurd. In the Tigers' most recent games, wins at Arkansas and Tennessee, they have averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Tailback Tre Mason alone has accounted for 250 rushing yards and five touchdowns during that span.

That kind of production is creating questions about the need for numerical balance.

Does that matter?

Leaning heavily on the run game certainly hasn't yielded any negative effects for Auburn, which is steamrolling its way through the SEC. The team is now 9-1 and ranked No. 7 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings.

Lashlee isn't going to change what's working.

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