The Dye-Gest: Big Tests Coming for SEC Teams

Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about a pair of SEC defensive powers and the challenges they face this week.

On our regular Legends Poll conference call this week a big topic of discussion from the coaches around the country was how defenses are trying to deal with the challenges of stopping the high-powered offenses we are seeing every Saturday. It was enjoyable listening to the oldtimers discuss this subject.

Most of them say that we are seeing more points and more total yardage than ever before in the history of college football and there are several reasons it is happening.

With the innovations on offense regarding formations and motion, defenses are trying to catch up. Offensive coaches are causing problems for defenses with their formations, motions and personnel groupings and by running their plays up-tempo they give the defenders little time to make the proper adjustments to how the offense is lined up prior to snapping the ball.

All across the country offenses are having success against defenses that are struggling to get lined up properly. With the time limitations in place on how long a team can meet with their coaches and practice each week, it is a monumental challenge getting a defense ready for an opponent that has good personnel and a good offensive scheme to go with those players.

About the only way to be sure you can stop those dynamic types of offenses is to put better players out there on the field to play defense against them than the offense has. If your defensive guys are good enough to whip the offensive guys, especially at the line of scrimmage, that changes the equation and it becomes advantage, defense.

In the SEC this year the only two teams that look like they can dominate offenses with their defensive fronts. Those defenses belong to Alabama and LSU. Both teams are involved in interesting matchups this week.

In the conference, Arkansas travels to Alabama for a big game in the SEC West race. Arkansas is a team that knows how to score and the Razorbacks appear to have developed their running game despite losing their star tailback for the season due to an injury. We know Arkansas can throw the football and do it very well.

This should be a good test for Alabama, but I don't think Arkansas will beat Alabama because the Tide is so good on defense. I think that will be the telling factor in the ball game.

LSU has a challenging road game at West Virginia, a wide-open, spread team with an outstanding quarterback, the type of offense that can really present challenges for a good defense. Despite that because of the strength of LSU, especially up front, I think they will win this game even though it is a night game in Morgantown where there will be a great atmosphere favoring the home team.

Like Alabama, I think LSU is so good at the line of scrimmage it will shut down the running game and make West Virginia's offense more predictable by making the Mountaineers throw the football.

If West Virginia is able to find a way to run the football well enough to keep the LSU defense honest and prevent those guys from being really aggressive going after the quarterback, then maybe I will be proven wrong when I say LSU will win, but I don't think I will be wrong.

With Auburn's 17-game winning streak being ended last weekend by a good, but probably not great, Clemson football team, it is time for the Tigers to do everything they can this week to be a better football team and build confidence because after this week's home game vs. Florida Atlantic the schedule will be incredible tough for the next four weeks.

From the Mailbag:

Dear Coach Dye,

Thank you coach for your article (September 19th Dye-Log column) and for being the voice of reason here when it comes to the team. It is easy for fans to see our guys in Auburn uniforms and think that we'll win games because we're Auburn.

We have an expectation that these kids are going to instantly know what to do and how to play even though they were all on different high school teams last year and haven't learned how to be leaders yet. And I appreciate the comment about them needing to be "bigger, stronger, and more knowledgeable" to compete. We as fans don't always have reasonable expectations.

The coaches have a challenge in front of them, but despite the lack of size and experience, we didn't give up and we fought hard throughout. As you said this is a bright spot for us. I hope our fan base can enjoy seeing the growth and not get caught up in having unreasonable expectations.

Thanks and War Eagle,

Russ Dillard
Huntsville, AL

I am glad you enjoyed Monday's Dye-Log column, Russ. Like I mentioned in the column, this is a time for Auburn fans to have patience and let an outstanding coaching staff work on improving a very young football team.

(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 is 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 also writes the Dye-Log and Pat's Picks columns for

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