Loeffler Sees Positives From Wallace; Offense
Auburn, Ala.—For all the things that Saturday's 42-7 win wasn't for the Auburn Tigers against an overmatched New Mexico State team, what it meant for a struggling offense can't be overstated. Gaining 475 yards of total offense in freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace's first career start, the Tigers overcame a sluggish first half to put the hammer down on the Aggies to earn win number two on the season. Getting the opportunity to watch Wallace take the reins for an entire game, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said he saw some positives and negatives for the young quarterback in the win. "He started out slow," Loeffler said. "It's really good that we were able to get a win because we're able to go into that meeting room tomorrow and have some stuff with him that we have to clean up. We had some first half woes, some things we missed. He's going to watch the tape and know he's got to improve in the first half and he will. "The one thing that is positive about Jonathan is that some mistakes are going to be made, but he's not a repeat offender. When you have a young freshman quarterback like that they are going to make mistakes, but they have to correct them fast. That's what he did." Completing 9-16 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and one interception, Wallace and Tre Mason mishandled the exchange on the first play of the game for the Tigers to show some early nerves. However, like he has done this season and in his playing days at Central High in Phenix City, Wallace responded by leading his team to a victory and showing the poise his teammates see every day in practice. "That's how he's been from day one," Loeffler said. "He's improved every day since he got on campus. He's got a long way to go. He's a guy that is in the office until 11 o'clock at night. He's a grinder. All the little details that he's trying to do is what is giving him some success." One of the biggest plays of the day on offense for the Tigers came with Auburn leading 21-0 and facing a third and seven from its own seven-yard line. Getting man coverage on the outside, Wallace hit senior wide receiver Emory Blake for 29 yards to give the Tigers some breathing room. Four plays later Onterio McCalebb raced in from 38 yards to put this one out of reach and cap Auburn's longest drive of the season. "We were in a run –pass check situation and he checked to the pass," Loeffler said. "He made a heck of a throw. In my opinion getting a 94-yard drive was great for our football team. Our objective was to flip the field. We at least wanted to get two first downs, but anytime you can score on a 94-yard drive in a coming out situation, I think that was probably the critical drive of the game." With the Aggies stacking the line of scrimmage, Auburn's running game struggled with the zone-read. Loeffler said the Tigers made some adjustments offensively that allowed them to get some openings. With so many young players on that side of the ball the first-year coordinator said he was very pleased to see them adjust on the fly and succeed. "We came out with the game plan that we were going to run," Loeffler said. "We saw from the box that they were giving us some obscure looks to run him (Wallace). We were able to counter and adjust. It was nice to see them be able to adjust and run the football. That's what we're going to have to be able to do. "You have to be able to adjust," he added. "Our young team has had trouble adjusting. We were able to adjust today and there are some things we can really build on. It's going to be nice to be able to walk in that meeting room and be able to pound and correct the things that need to be corrected. We need to be better in the first half."