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Tiger football breakdown, Game 3

AUBURN - As Auburn's football team prepares for Saturday's showdown against No. 2 LSU at Jordan-Hare Stadium, it at least has a win in the books. After an 0-2 start, the Tigers beat Louisiana-Monroe 31-28 in overtime last Saturday.

Kiehl Frazier scored the first receiving touchdown of his career/Robin Conn photo

It wasn't the prettiest of wins. A two-touchdown lead evaporated in the fourth quarter, and it will take much more to compete with LSU. But at the least the zero is gone from the win column.

Here is a position-by-position look after three games:

QUARTERBACK

The good stuff

* Kiehl Frazier completed 9-of-12 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He also caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Quan Bray.

* Frazier frequently scrambled out of trouble, once hitting running back Tre Mason for a 34-yard gain.

On the flip side

* Frazier threw just six times in the second half and completed just one. He threw an interception that thwarted an Auburn drive and led to a ULM touchdown.

Tre Mason ran 22 times for 90 yards/Robin Conn photo

Where things stand

Frazier was much better, particularly in the first half, than he was a week earlier at Mississippi State, but he struggled in the second half. He needs to find the consistency that has been elusive so far.

RUNNING BACKS

The good stuff

* Onterio McCalebb rushed 11 times for 128 yards. He had a 27-yard touchdown run and a 43-yard run.

* Tre Mason rushed 22 times for 90 yards and scored Auburn's first red-zone touchdown of the season on a 1-yard run.

* Mike Blakely gained 32 yards on his only three carries.

* Fullback Jay Prosch was a beast of a blocker.

Samie Coates snares TD pass on final play of the first half/Robin Conn photo

On the flip side

* Blakely fumbled one yard away from giving Auburn a 35-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Where things stand

Not many teams have a better trio of running backs. McCalebb is off to an All-SEC kind of start.

WIDE RECEIVERS

The good stuff

* Redshirt freshman Sammie Coates caught a 33-yard touchdown pass, the first of his career, on a leaping grab as time expired in the first half.

* Emory Blake and Frazier hooked up for a 16-yard completion and a crucial third-down conversion.

Corey Lemonier blocks a ULM field goal try/Robin Conn photo

* Bray harkened back to his days as a high school quarterback and made the throw to Frazier for a touchdown.

On the flip side

* Despite frequent talk about spreading the ball, only three wide receivers caught passes.

* Coates made a spectacular diving catch for what would have been a touchdown, but a misalignment resulted in a penalty that wiped it out.

Where things stand

Coates showed why he has been creating excitement since he arrived in 2011. There is still a major need to get more receivers involved in the offense

OFFENSIVE LINE

The good stuff

Jermaine Whitehead and Chris Davis bring down ULM running back/Robin Conn photo

* Paved the way for 255 rushing yards against a defense that allowed Arkansas less than 100.

* Allowed only one sack.

* True freshman Pat Miller spelled fellow true freshman Avery Young at right tackle and, coaches, said, handled himself well.

On the flip side

* Though Frazier was sacked just once, he frequently had to scramble out of trouble.

Where things stand

With a redshirt freshman and a true freshman in the starting lineup, the Tigers have held their own. They need to be more physical, which will come with age and experience.

TIGHT END

Cody Parkey celebrates game-winning field goal/Robin Conn photo

The good stuff

* Philip Lutzenkirchen caught just one pass, but it was a big-time grab for 16 yards. He took a big hit and held on.

On the flip side

* Tight ends were reputed to be a large part of Scot Loeffler's offense. Only Lutzenkirchen sees to be seriously involved in the passing game.

Where things stand

Lutzenkirchen is a big-time player. It's as simple as that. Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah are filling their roles. Will they become more involved in the passing game? No sign of it yet.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The good stuff

* Defensive ends Corey Lemonier, Dee Ford, Craig Sanders and Nosa Eguae got consistent pressure on quarterback Kolton Browning and sacked him twice.

* Lemonier and defensive tackle Angelo Blackson blocked field goal attempts.

* Lemonier had five tackles and four quarterback hurries.

* Ford had four tackles and a sack.

On the flip side

* The defensive tackles combined for just four tackles and one quarterback hurry.

* Lemonier jumped offsides in crucial situations, once on third down and once on fourth down, to keep ULM drives alive.

* Struggled to contain ULM's running game, which gained 165 yards.

Where things stand

One of the more puzzling aspects of this Auburn football team is the lack of production at defensive tackle. For the Tigers to take major strides as a defense, that must improve. The defensive ends are a handful for opponents trying to protect their quarterbacks.

LINEBACKERS

The good stuff

* Daren Bates continued his tackle binge with 14, broke up two passes and had three quarterback hurries.

* Jake Holland had 11 tackles and broke up a pass.

On the flip side

* Part of defense's problems Browning's running and passing.

Where things stand

Against LSU, Bates and Holland will likely have some help on the strong side from Jonathan Evans and Justin Garrett. The Tigers played mostly nickel defense in the first three games, but LSU runs a more traditional offense. Bates and Holland are both among the nation's leaders in tackles.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

The good stuff

* Safety Jermaine Whitehead had 10 tackles and a sack.

* Safety Demetruce McNeal had 11 tackles and a tackle for loss.

* Cornerback Chris Davis had six tackles, including one for a loss.

On the flip side

* Contributed to defense giving up 245 yards passing.

* Bell was beaten on a 32-yard pass.

* Jonathon MIncy was called for pass interference in the end zone.

Where things stand

The safeties have improved dramatically against the run since the first game. Coverage needs to be better.

KICKER/PUNTER

The good stuff

* Cody Parkey kicked the game-winning field goal from 35 yards in overtime.

* Steven Clark averaged 40.2 yards per punt with a long of 51.

Where things stand

Not many teams have a better pair than Parkey and Clark.

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