The Dye-Gest: Opening the Mailbag

Readers ask questions of columnist and college football Hall for Fame coach Pat Dye.

This edition of the Dye-Gest column features comments and questions from readers on a variety of subjects concerning Auburn football.

From the mailbag:

Coach Dye:

How would you attack Alabama's defense if you were coaching against them? How do you score enough points to beat them?

Thanks and War Eagle!

Carlton Garner, Montgomery

I think first of all you have to give Alabama credit for having a great defensive football team last season. That group had a lot of outstanding players and the schemes it used were excellent.

Like most great defensive football teams, whether they are at the high school, college or pro level, they try to dictate what the offense can do.

There are several things an offense must do to be successful against what Alabama likes to do. I think is particularly important to cause some confusion before the ball is snapped on where your strength is going to be in the offensive formation.

In other words, I think shifting, motion and changing formations makes that defense change a lot of assignments. When you have to quickly change a lot of assignments it slows the reaction time of the players and helps the offense.

With what the defensive coaches are doing at Alabama, their trademark is to try to stop the run and force opponents to pass so if you are going to be successful against that team you will have a lot better chance of doing it if your team can throw the football and do it well.

With what Alabama does there are going to be a lot of opportunities for the quarterback and receivers to beat one-on-one coverage because the defense likes to have eight players focused on stopping the run every snap. The exception to that is when there is an obvious passing situation and the defense has switched to a pass coverage package.

Any time there is normal down and distance situations Alabama's defense is going to be focused on stopping the run. That is not such a bad thing for a competing offense that has a talented and accurate passer with good receivers who can execute the passing game. If an offense isn't very good passing the ball, it will likely struggle against Alabama's defense.

If you look back over the history of Coach (Nick) Saban and his Alabama defenses, it's been the great quarterbacks who have given them problems. Once you start hurting them with the passing game, it forces them to make adjustments to bolster the pass coverage and that's not what they want to do.

I think another thing that made the Alabama defense successful last year is that its offense did a good job controlling the football, which complements what the team is doing defensively. Alabama has a basic plan, is good at executing and is doing what they do with good players.

Coach Dye:

I read your column about the late Joe Paterno and want to thank you for it. I think you got it exactly right with your comments. I hope people don't overlook the many great things he did and the people he helped in a half century of coaching.

James Williams, Atlanta

Coach Paterno wasn't a close friend, but I certainly knew him and his wife and have always had respect for them so it has been tough for me to read about and watch TV news about the problems he and his program had at Penn State.

Dear Coach Dye:

Thanks for your comments in your column entitled "An Appreciation of Auburn." Your sentiments are echoed by myself and countless other Auburn men and women who love the place and the people there. I enjoy reading your comments and hope you continue to do the column.

K.G. Pearce, Dallas

Thanks for the comments. Auburn was a great place long before I got here and will be long after I am gone.

(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 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 Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

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