Right now the Tigers are not a very good football team, but Gene Chizik and his staff understand what they need to do and are working hard to get their guys to play better. He is the same guy who coached the defense on an unbeaten Auburn team in 2004 and who did a great job as the head coach the past three seasons, including one of the best coaching jobs I have ever seen with the 2010 team. That is my opinion and I have pretty good knowledge of the game. Auburn people need to be patient and supportive.
The way the Tigers played in the first two games they made too many mistakes to beat a good football team. They need to get tougher, both physically and mentally. If there are leaders in the senior class, or in any of the other classes on this team, now is the time for those guys to step up and lead the way.
Everybody who follows Auburn knows that Kiehl Frazier and the offense struggled at Mississippi State. It would be helpful to the young quarterback if his team could line up and physically overpower opposing defenses and run the ball down the field to take some of the pressure off the new starter, but the Tigers aren't ready to do that yet. They need their quarterback to be a playmaker to be successful, but he needs more help.
What happened on Saturday in Starkville is not uncommon for a first-year starter. Even a great quarterback like Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan struggled in his first SEC road start in a 1969 game in which he threw five interceptions at Tennessee. Stan White, who like Sullivan, was one of the outstanding quarterbacks in Auburn history, had a similar type of game playing on the road as a first-year starter at Florida in 1990. We got beat 48-7 that day.
For Frazier to be the kind of quarterback the Tigers need him to be, the players around him need to do a better job of protection, the receivers need to make more plays and the team needs to run the ball better.
I don't have any doubt that he will work hard and do everything he can to improve and help his team win football games. If he had character flaws I would be more concerned about his ability to bounce back from a rough game, but if he has any I don't know about it. I think he is a good kid, working his butt off to try to help his team win.
For the team to be successful this year, it is going to have to make a transformation. On defense the Tigers have a few individuals making plays, but they need to do a better job of playing together as a team. Offensively, everybody needs to become more productive. I know Gene Chizik and he is doing everything he can do to keep the staff and players working hard and focused on getting better. The important thing is for the Tigers to keep their heads up and grind at getting better for this week's game against what should be a scrappy opponent, Louisiana-Monroe, and for the rest of the season.
(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 writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.