The Dye-Log: SEC Looks Strong Again

Hall Of Fame Coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn football Tigers and the Southeastern Conference in this column.

Auburn fulfilled its promise of putting a young and unpredictable football team on the field, but I don't think many people predicted a game like the one we saw on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. For Coach Gene Chizik's third Auburn team we saw a lot to be concerned about and a lot to be excited about as the Tigers get ready for SEC play this week.

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The play of Auburn's new starting quarterback, Barrett Trotter, was impressive, especially how he led the Tigers to a pair of late touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory. That is something to be excited about regarding this Auburn team.

I would add the overall play of the kicking teams is something to be excited about as is the play of Travante Stallworth, who looks like he will give the wide receivers group another playmaker to go with Emory Blake. Also exciting is that you can see a lot talent on the field for this team.

The biggest concern I see regarding the Tigers is on the defensive side of the ball. They have a lot of work to do to get ready to successfully play in the SEC and will get a big test at the end of this week that will give us a chance to see where they are on that side of the football.

The Tigers played a lot of young people in the opener, including 13 true freshmen. I think the close call with Utah State opened their eyes to the challenge of playing major college football and the same is true of the other players who saw their first significant playing time for the team.

In week two the Tigers will be playing a different kind of football team, a high-powered, physical opponent in Mississippi State. Auburn will have to perform at a much higher level of intensity than we saw in the first week vs. Utah State. The Tigers will have to come miles to get ready for their SEC opener.

Analyzing what I saw in the Utah State at Auburn game, the Aggies featured an older, veteran football team playing against a young, inexperienced opponent. I am from an old fox hunting family and Utah State reminded me of a pack of old dogs that know how to run a fox while the Auburn players looked like a bunch of young puppies out there still trying to figure out how to handle the chase.

Around the SEC I was disappointed with the performance by the Georgia Bulldogs while at the same time being very impressed with Boise State. I think Boise State had something like 18 players back who had a lot of starting experience and one of them was the quarterback, Kellen Moore, who has played a lot of college football and it showed.

Boise State probably doesn't have the overall talent Georgia has got on its roster, but with the experience and the quarterback play the Broncos brought to the Georgia Dome that game looked liked a mismatch to me, and the scoreboard reflected that.

The other big game for the SEC in week one went much better for the league with LSU defeating Oregon in a contest played in Dallas. LSU is a good football team with or without suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson because it has a great defense. On offense the Tigers look about like they did last year and got good play from a pair of running backs who each had close to 100 yards.

Also in the SEC West, I was highly impressed with how Mississippi State played at Memphis. The Bulldogs feature a veteran quarterback who is surrounded by a lot of talent. Sentimentally, I would like to pick Auburn to beat the Bulldogs this week, but I don't see how I can do that with the way the Tigers played on Saturday, but we'll see.

I wasn't surprised with how Alabama played in its opener against Kent State. The result was expected for a team that has a lot of experienced players at a lot of positions. However, one of those spots is not quarterback and that showed with four interceptions, something that will get a team beat when it is playing somebody that is a lot closer to its talent level.

South Carolina bounced back from a horrible start to win comfortably against a pretty good East Carolina team in a game played at Charlotte. I am not sure why Steve Spurrier didn't start Stephen Garcia. Maybe it was a wakeup call for the senior quarterback, but when he came off the bench the Gamecocks played like a different football team.

Florida got off to a good start vs. Florida Atlantic and from what I saw the Gators could be an improved team, especially on defense.

It looks like our conference could be really strong again this year. It looks like there are a lot of good teams in the SEC so we will see how Auburn fits in, but I know the Tigers have got a long way to go to be a good team, but there is young talent to build around so we will see what happens.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a 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 for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.


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