Dye-Gest: Defense Showing Signs Of Progress

Hall of Fame Coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn football team in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

As the Auburn football team prepares to play on Saturday at Ole Miss, one area of the team that looks like it is improving is the defense.

I think the play and the effort is getting better on that side of the line of scrimmage, and the performance was probably good enough to have won the game last Saturday vs. Arkansas if the offense wasn't struggling.

I am sure that Coach (Brian) VanGorder is going to keep pushing to see that his defense continues to develop. He is a proven, ultra-successful coach and I expect good things to happen for the defense under his guidance.

One of the great things about football is that it is truly a team game. Those defensive players need to step up to do whatever they can to help the offense, whether it is forcing more turnovers or consistently giving the ball back to the offense in better field position. The same is true of the special teams.

Like Coach VanGorder, Auburn's first-year offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, has been successful in coaching. He came up through he ranks as a player and coach under the Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr system at Michigan, and there are no coaches in America who have better football backgrounds than the coaches who did that. That background is what the Harbaughs have--the one coaching in the NFL at Baltimore and the one coaching in the NFL for San Francisco.

There is no doubt that Coach Loeffler is struggling to get some kind of identity with the offense in his first season at Auburn. He has a young offensive line that is struggling, and a young quarterback who is struggling along with wide receivers who are not making enough plays.

There is probably not an instant fix to get the offense playing at the level the coaches want it to play at this year, but as someone who coached for 27 years I know the thing to do when you are going through a rough time like this is to continue to work hard, take care of all of the details, make sure the players stay together and don't give up on this year.

If the Tigers can get that done, then they will get better as the season progresses and it won't surprise me if they beat somebody they aren't supposed to beat. If they can make that happen this week against an Ole Miss team that has shown a lot of spark on offense it will be something the Tigers can build on to have more success down the road.

From the mailbag (On Tuesday's Dye-Log column)

Coach Dye,

I couldn't agree more and believe most reasonable Tiger fans do, too. This is the time when we find out who's a real Auburn Man (or Woman) and who's just along for the ride cause we're winning and they like the colors.

Thanks for your wisdom.

Tartt Brown, Charlotte, NC, '82
son of Paul Brown, '47
father of Austin Brown, '10 and Daniel Brown, '14 (hopefully not '15!)
Christopher Brown, '18 (no doubt where he'll go)

Coach Dye,
I just wanted to thank you for your calm and encouraging words in the Dyelog this week. I always appreciate your viewpoint because you have been there yourself and I know how much you love Auburn. I know we have lost some of our more senior key players over the last year and our kids are having to step up before they are ready. You have set my heart straight on this team.

I would like to see us, as a fan base, figure out a way to express to the team and the coaches that we are behind them. How about passing out some small signs for people to hold at Tiger Walk, or in the stadium, that say "We support our team"? I am a graphic artist. I will try to work out some kind of design and forward it to the athletic department.

Again, thanks for your words. And as always "War Eagle!!!"

Katherine Owens Shearin '82

(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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