The Dye-Gest: New Faces for the Tigers

Former Auburn Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the national championship game and other subjects in this week's Dye-Gest column.

There is still a lot of talk among Auburn fans about the national championship game and the more I think about it the more I have come to the conclusion that the layoff from each team's last game to the championship football game in Arizona had a big impact on both sides of the ball.

I believe it helped both defenses and helped both offenses. It is a real simple analysis if you think about it. The long layoff gave the defenses six weeks to get ready to recognize formations, personnel and plays that each team runs. So much study time cuts the anticipation time for the defenders because the quicker they can recognize what the play is the quicker they can react.

I thought Oregon's offense played great against Auburn's defense. They gave the Tigers some problems and I thought Auburn's defense played great against Oregon. If you take out the long pass Oregon had and the pass play on which the umpire picked Auburn's safety, Oregon had trouble moving the football.

With such a long layoff it is hard to duplicate in practice the speed in which the game is played so that affects the timing of the quarterback and the receivers when they are throwing the football. In that game Cameron Newton missed some throws that he had been executing perfectly all year while hitting people between the numbers.

Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof had his group ready for one of their best performance vs. the Oregon Ducks.

On the subject of Cam with all that has been written and said about him at the combine, his pro day and concerning the draft, the one thing that has been overlooked is how competitive he is. They talk about his physical ability, his throwing motion, his speed, his arm strength, his size and how fast he is, but I haven't heard one analyst step up and say anything about his competitive nature.

I will say without hesitation Cam Newton is one of the greatest competitors I have ever seen. That was so evident if you watched him throughout the season with how he was able to persevere and be successful on critical downs in critical situations whether running or throwing the football.

Cameron Newton was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

I believe Coach (Gus) Malzahn said the team was 100 percent on converting third down and one situations all season and a lot of that was due to Cam Newton.

The spring is an exciting time of year for almost everybody. For me, being in the tree business and living in the country. the trees are budding and the flowers are starting to bloom. It won't be long before the azaleas are blooming, the weather turns warmer and the days are longer allowing people to get out and enjoy this time of year.

For the football players spring means a new beginning. In Auburn's case, with a large senior class to replace, the juniors going pro early and other players being dismissed from the team, that gives other players an opportunity to step up and show the coaches what they can do. As a coach it is exciting to see these young ones come along and mature and grow into better players, which is what they need to do this time of year.

When I say Auburn's players will need to grow I am not talking about physically. Physically won't be a problem for these players. Where they need to grow is mentally and with their maturity so they will be tough enough to take on the challenge that Southeastern Conference football will offer them later this year. That is particularly true with the schedule the Tigers face this year having to go on the road to Arkansas, to Baton Rouge, to Athens, to Columbia, S.C., and to Clemson, S.C. These guys will have to grow up in a hurry because they play a lot of these road games early in the year.

There will be a lot of new faces in key roles for the Tigers who won't have Cam Newton, Darvin Adams, Nick Fairley and the veteran offensive line. This year guys like Jeffrey Whitaker, Emory Blake and Michael Dyer will be counted on along with either Barrett Trotter or Clint Moseley at quarterback. There will be a new offensive line and new folks in the secondary.

One of the great things about college football is to be able to see these young ones come in and grow and mature. Because of that the personality of college teams changes every year even though coaches don't change.

Michael Dyer rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman.

Auburn's coaches will be demanding the same things they demanded from their players this year, but their players are different. The maturity level is different. The leadership is different. This will be a different football team than last year's group and how the young guys grow and mature will determine how successful the Tigers will be during the 2011 season.

On another topic, it really, really saddened me that those kids got in trouble last week and are no longer on the team. I knew all of them and had talked to all of them and it just kind of makes you sick in your stomach to see those young men (Michael McNeil, Shaun Kitchens, Dakota Mosley and Antonio Goodwin) throw away the opportunity they had.

I just hope and pray that somehow they can come through this and land on their feet and get their lives straightened out and become what they are capable of becoming. I know what they did was terrible and there are going to be serious implications they will have to face, but there is some good in them, too, and I hope that will come out.

I applaud Gene Chizik and Jay Jacobs for the positions they took in immediately dismissing the players from the team, but I am certain there is nobody out there that is sicker over this situation than Gene Chizik. Auburn chose to recruit these kids and they all chose to come to Auburn. When something like that happens we all fail and that is hard to swallow.

From the Mailbag:

Dear Coach,

Twice I met you at the stadium at Auburn. You were very cordial and took time for a brief conversation a handshake and we were on our way. Earlier I drove you from the Macon Airport to an Auburn Club meeting in Warner Robins. That was a pleasant experience also. All I can say is that you must have had good parents.

My question is why Auburn and Alabama don't play Troy and UAB? I think Auburn could give up two games with Tennessee-Martin, Louisiana Monroe, Arkansas State or others to play Troy and UAB. I just think it makes good sense since both Troy and UAB have IA programs. Interest would be higher, more tickets would be sold and all the proceeds would stay in state. How can anyone disagree?


Moses Alexander III

Warner Robins, GA 31088

This is a question that needs to be addressed by Athletic Director Jay Jacobs. I can see the advantages of playing them and if you get down to splitting hairs I can see the advantage of not playing them. Auburn has played UAB previously, but not Troy.

Hey Coach Dye,

Hope you and yours are doing well. It really did my heart well to see you at the SEC title game and the BCS game. War Eagle!

You may have written about this already, but I didn't see it. Greg Pratt was someone I remember fondly from Auburn, and I would like to read your reflections on Greg, and his passing, on the 1983 season.


Kenny McAdams

Well, Kenny, anytime you go through an experience like that with a player dying it is traumatic. It not only affects a kid's family and his friends, it affects his teammates, coaches and everybody who knew and loved Greg. It is something you go through and never quite understand why and how it happened.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

Pat Dye's Crooked Oaks Hunting Preserve and Lodge

Pat Dye's Quail Hollow Gardens

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