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Fans, Franklin disappointed with Auburn's offensive struggles

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - The longer Auburn's offensive struggles, the
tougher Tony Franklin's harshest critic gets.
He uses words like "horrible" and "stupid" and frequently
comments on what a lousy job the 13th-ranked Tigers' new offensive
coordinator is doing. If Auburn fans have a gripe with Franklin at
the moment, chances are it's nothing he isn't saying himself.
"I just don't think I've done a very good job of coaching it,"
he said. "I mean, it's pretty obvious that these guys don't look
well-coached. And that's me. I have not done a good job of
coaching. The finger's pointing at me and it deserves to be."
The Tigers' adjustment to the up-tempo spread offense so
ballyhooed in the offseason has certainly been rocky. The
quarterback situation remains unsettled after five games and the
offense ranks in the bottom half of the Southeastern Conference in
all the major statistical categories.
It seems to have become a matter of molding his offense to the
players, not the other way around.
"It's not the Tony Franklin offense, it's the Auburn offense,"
Franklin said. "It's Auburn's offense. It's these players'
offense. And it's my job to find out what they can do.
"I think anybody who knows, and who's watched most of the stuff
I've done throughout my life, there's a lot of adjustments that
have been made since I've been here. It's just a part of coaching,
you try to adjust to your talent each place you go."
Coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday he's still enamored of the
spread offense that is a departure from his formerly more
old-fashioned preferences.
The Tigers have scored only three offensive touchdowns in three
SEC games. They rank 112th nationally in third-down conversions and
no better than 90th in six other offensive categories.
Other than quarterback Chris Todd, most of the current players
were recruited when Auburn was still running the West Coast
offense.
"We're 4-1 and played a very tough schedule to this point and
we haven't seen hardly anything from this offense," Tuberville
said. "Once we get going, it's going to be much better. There's no
panic mode.
"One day we'll have the talent where we can say, 'We'll run 100
percent of what Tony likes to run.' Right now we don't have the
talent in some areas. We have to take advantage of our offensive
talent versus the defense that we play."
Franklin's offense hasn't been as productive since its Auburn
debut with only a couple of weeks of practice before the
Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Clemson. The Tigers had season-highs of
90 offensive plays and 423 yards.
"I guess I coached them down since the bowl game, because they
certainly haven't gotten any better," Franklin said.
The Tigers have run more offensive plays than any of the other
five SEC teams that have played five games. The no-huddle,
hurry-to-the-line attack still hasn't been as fast-paced as
Franklin was looking for.
"We've never played at the tempo," he said. "We don't
understand tempo yet. We think we do, but we don't have a clue.
We're not playing as fast. We don't understand what it means to
play fast. We think we do, but we don't."
Mostly, though, Franklin has reserved his criticism for himself.
-On his decision to alternate Todd and Kodi Burns during the
first game. "I was stupid. I think I made a horrible mistake in
believing I could do something that most people have never done."
-On fans booing Todd and the offense against Tennessee: "Well,
they should. If I was them, I'd boo. I'd boo me. I'd be angry.
Everybody's expectations were high. My expectations were high."
-On whether Tuberville is giving him the autonomy to run the
offense: "All the screw-ups are mine, trust me. Coach Tuberville
is just trying to win football games."
And the Tigers are still doing that, offensive troubles aside.
On Saturday, they visit No. 19 Vanderbilt, which is allowing a
league-high 364 yards a game.
"We're 4-1 and we have seven games left and offensively we've
played as bad as you can play," center Ryan Pugh said. "The only
thing now is go up from here."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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