When you have a background in coaching like I do, one of the first things you consider when looking at how a team is going to fare is to check out the schedule. In Auburn's case I think the Tigers have a favorable one for 2013.
Nobody in the SEC is going to have an easy schedule and Auburn's is certainly tough playing eight games in the league, but I think this year's team has a chance to do better than many expect if the players are ready to prove what happened last year was just a one-year deal.
A big plus for Coach Gus Malzahn's first season back as head coach is that his team plays eight times at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The first three games are at home vs. Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State. Not having to play on the road early in the schedule is a big deal for a team that is going through so many changes, both offensively and defensively, with its new coaching staff.
By the time the Tigers hit the road for the first time in game four at LSU, if everything works out the team should be much better prepared to compete against a very talented opponent on the road than it would be in game one or two.
In my opinion the two toughest games of the upcoming season are against Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers get to play them at the end of the year when they should be a better team than they are in September. That is a plus and so is the fact that Auburn gets to play those rivalry games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
At this time of year I am sure Coach Malzahn and his staff are more concerned about getting their own football team ready than who his team plays and when they play them, and that is the way it should be. I think his team got better in the spring and there is no reason the trend can't continue this fall, and the schedule could help make that happen.
(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.