With new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler making major changes in style of play on his side of the ball, there are questions about how quickly the 2012 Tigers will become comfortable in his system. Normally, there are growing pains in this type of situation.
There are questions about how the Tigers will perform all across the offense. Playing a team ranked 14th nationally should give the Auburn coaches and players a pretty good idea of where they stand.
We don't know about the new starting quarterback, Kiehl Frazier. He certainly has promise, but hasn't faced the pressure of being the man going into every game.
We also don't know about the rebuilt offensive line that will be protecting Frazier and trying to open holes for the running backs.
We also don't know how good the tailbacks are going to be, which is a big deal for a team that has spent a lot of time and effort in the spring and the preseason trying to become very physical when running the football.
I believe the development of the offensive front will be a key to success this year. Position coach Jeff Grimes has the right tools to work with although as a group the starting lineup is a bit green with one senior, two sophomores, a redshirt freshman and a true freshman in the starting lineup. How they perform on Saturday night will be something to focus on when watching this SEC vs. ACC matchup.
Defensively, I think this Auburn team should be improved in every area compared to last year's group that had too much difficulty in getting opposing offenses off the field and keeping them off the scoreboard.
Part of the excitement of an opener like the one Auburn has is the opponent has a lot of good players to contend with, which should force Auburn to arrive in Atlanta focused and eager to perform at a high level, especially after a disappointing loss at Clemson last year.
Will that be enough against a team that is the defending ACC champion with a lot of starters returning? I don't know, but it should make for interesting viewing on Saturday night.
My take is Auburn is a year away from being able to put a team on the field with the quality of players and depth to consistently win at the highest level in the SEC. Maybe the 2012 Tigers are closer than I think. With plenty of challenges early in the schedule, starting with the game vs. Clemson, it shouldn't take long to find out if that is the case.
(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.