September 9, 2013

COLLIER: It's progress, but is it enough?

AUBURN | To be honest, I had been much more worried about Arkansas State than Washington State during the offseason. Besides being intimately familiar with Auburn's offensive scheme, ASU came in with a team that knew how to win and was used to winning; WSU vied with Auburn last year for the unenviable title of the worst team in the country.

Eking out a win in the opener didn't do much to diminish my concerns.

The biggest worry I had after the Washington State game was that the Auburn offense failed to mount a sustained touchdown drive. I got even more concerned when I took a look at Wazzu's defensive numbers from last year, when the Cougs allowed an average of 426 yards and nearly 34 points a game last season -- although, like everybody else, my opinion of WSU got a considerable upward adjustment when they beat and nearly shut out Southern Cal late Saturday night.

It was more than a little encouraging, then, to see AU march down the field for touchdowns on the Tigers' first two possessions against Arkansas State. The burly three-man machine of Tre Mason, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne picked up where they left off in the opener with 247 combined yards, and Nick Marshall added another 53 on the ground.

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