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November 10, 2012

Ground game goes nowhere

Onterio McCalebb scored three touchdowns against Georgia when the Bulldogs came to Jordan-Hare in 2010. The senior running back had two carries against Georgia Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Tre Mason, who has begged for carries after several losses this season, had five carries for 16 yards at halftime. He finished with 33 yards on 11 carries.

The Tigers only managed 57 net rushing yards on 27 attempts, just 2.1 yards per carry.

A stoic Scot Loeffler addressed Auburn's rushing woes very simply after the game.

"We didn't run the ball very well," Loeffler said. "And when you don't run the ball very well, you aren't going to be able to maintain drives. That's a very good defense, and all the credit is to them."

When asked if he was embarrassed about the offense's performance after Auburn's first shutout of the season, Loeffler bristled slightly.

"My goodness gracious, that's an obvious question," Loeffler said. "Absolutely you do. We aren't performing very well, so yes. Absolutely."

When the running game hasn't preformed well this year, Auburn hasn't won. In their eight losses, the Tigers have been outgained on the ground in each of them. But none has bad at Saturday night. The Bulldogs outgained Auburn by 232 yards--recording 289 yards on the ground.

Auburn's Tre Mason and Jonathan Wallace and Georgia's Todd Gurley had 11 carries each. Mason and Wallace combined for 61 yards while Gurley romped for 116-including a 49-yarder that set up Georgia's first touchdown.

For only the second time this season, Mason was held under four yards per carry, and for the first time when receiving ten or more carries.

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones finished the game with only four tackles, but the All-American had two sacks and forced Auburn to almost abandon the zone-read that Wallace had executed well in previous games. Loeffler said Jones defends the zone-read play as well as anyone and the disruption he caused in the backfield led to Auburn playing from behind the line of scrimmage several times throughout the game.

"It's been our story," Loeffler said. "We're not a team that's going to be able to handle second and 15 or third and 20. When we stay on schedule, we have a chance; when we get off schedule it's hard."

Contrary to Auburn's offense, Jones said the Bulldog defense stuck to the schedule they had come into the game.

"We knew it was a big game," Jones said. "Our defense went out there to give our offense a chance to get the ball, and they punched it in and got it rolling. That's the things we look for, just going out there on defense and dominating and giving our offense as many chances to put the ball in the end zone.

Wallace kept Georgia from stacking the box on defense by extending plays with his feet and completing downfield passes to senior wide receiver Emory Blake, but the offense found different ways to stall out over and over again.

Junior fullback Jay Prosch said it's hard for the offense to pick up the pace when turnovers or miscues give the ball back to Georgia.

"I think there were a few times where we had some momentum, but we got shut down," Prosch said. "It's hard to pick up momentum after that. That's definitely something we've been struggling with, and it's something we have to keep working with."

With all the scrutiny surrounding Auburn this season, Prosch reiterated the "family" concept that Auburn has implemented.

"Our coaches just tell us to keep grinding and eventually things will come together and things will work," Prosch said. "We've got to keep working and playing hard. It's really a family mentality. We lean on them, and we're trying to get through this together."

Loeffler said even with a zero on the scoreboard tonight, the team hasn't packed it in.

"The sun will come up tomorrow," Loeffler said. "It's tough times now, but they haven't given in. All we can do is come back to work tomorrow."



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