Auburn Tigers, Chizik search for answers

Auburn's Gene Chizik says the coaches are working "night and day" to fix the defense.

"We are looking forward to another opportunity to play, and we're going to start back today to become a better football team," he said adding that he's been evaluating some of the team's deficiencies.

Considerable repair work is needed. The Tigers rank 117th out of 120 teams in total defense, giving up a whopping 534 yards a game. That and an offense that hasn't been consistent shows they have much bigger worries than the end of a 17-game winning streak.

Chizik says Auburn is going to simplify the defense to make adjustments easier against fast-paced offenses like Clemson, which beat Auburn 38-24. He says there won't be big personnel changes except for injury, though some younger players could play bigger roles.

Starting linebacker Jonathan Evans did not travel to the Clemson game because of an undisclosed injury.

Auburn is last in the Southeastern Conference in six different defensive categories.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


On fixing the deficiencies on defense…

"Well, again we spent a lot of time, night and day basically assessing what the deficiencies are and how to get better, and we're going to stay on track with how to improve. There are a lot of different things I feel like we can improve on, starting with tackling, as we all saw Saturday, but also a little technique issues and some different things that we just obviously have to improve on and I don't think that's any secret, I think the whole world knows it. We're going to continue on that track, and we're looking forward to today and starting with different things that are going to help us improve."

On frustrations as a former defensive coordinator…

"Obviously we would love to be playing better on defense right now. Again, we're going to continue to work in that direction. It's not about frustration, it's not about any of that. We need to play better defensively , I don't think there's any question in anybody's mind about  that. We don't take that lightly. We're spending every waking moment right now assessing defense from top to bottom and figuring out a way to play better."

On what can be done to improve the offense's struggles on third down…

"We can run the ball better or we can throw the ball better, whatever one we choose to do.  Again, it's all the same and I keep answering the same question over and over again. We've got to execute better and we have spent a lot of time looking at it. Usually when you go back and you look at a third down that has either been unsuccessful defensively or offensively it's usually one guy here or one guy there, a missed block here or too much pressure here, and that is the encouraging part. The encouraging part is it's not nine or ten guys out of 11 failing to do their job. It's a guy here, it's a guy there. Again, that one guy can disrupt a lot of different things, so that's glaring that it has happened on both sides of the ball.  Not just on third down, but when we are not effective, period, it's usually a guy here or a guy there and that is really what we are seeing."

On quarterback Barrett Trotter's progress…

"Well, again, I think Barrett has had some really bright moments that we can really, really build on, no question about it. I think that there's also a great deal in terms of room for improvement. He's been the starter for three games, so I think the experience gotten in those three games are invaluable. He was under a lot of duress in parts of the game on Saturday. He was hit a lot. So again, that goes back to challenging everyone on the offensive line and protection and things of that nature, and the receivers getting open. It all ties in, but overall I think Barrett's getting better and, week by week, the more experience he gets, I think that he'll continue to improve."

On using the FAU game to improve before SEC play…

"It's not really about Florida Atlantic, really and truly. This is a game where we've got to improve some things in practice, and go out on game day and execute the things that we feel like we need to improve on. So, it really wouldn't matter who we're playing. It's very obvious that we need to play better all the way around as a football team. Florida Atlantic just happens to be the next opponent. Again, it's all about what we practice, how we practice, what we're emphasizing in terms of having to improve on and going out on Saturday and doing it. Again, that's the beauty of football. We get a chance to go out and practice starting today. It's not about Florida Atlantic or anybody else. It's about Auburn and we have a lot of improvement to do."