I feel like the Auburn defense has some good players there, but until they line up and play against a different offensive team I am not sure you can get a true read what you have by playing against your own people all of the time.
With Washington State coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the opener, I think it is a good thing Auburn's defense will be really tested, even though the offense the Tigers will be facing won't be a physical one. Washington State runs the spread, but doesn't try to run the football nearly as much as the Tigers do.
The Auburn coaches should be able to get a decent read on their defense because tackling, playing in space and showing athletic ability will be required to defend what should be a very good passing attack Washington State will bring into the opener.
Washington State knows how to spread out defenses to throw the football and that is what Coach Mike Leach wants to do against everybody his team plays. Auburn's offense spreads out defenses to create running lanes and to set up the passing attack. There is a significant difference in that and what the Cougars do.
Coach Malzahn wants his team to not only run the football successfully, he wants his players to do it with a physical style of play.
To be successful defensively in the SEC, you have got to be able to stop the run. The Tigers might not get an indication from the Washington State game regarding how they are performing in that area, but if the rushing defense isn't tested in game one or by Arkansas State in game two, without a doubt it will happen in game three.
Mississippi State likes to run the football and when the Bulldogs come to town for Auburn's SEC opener they will make the Tigers prove they are up to the task. The same will be true of Auburn's week four opponent when the Tigers play their first road game of the season at LSU.
When we last saw the Auburn defense in a real game at the end of last season it was a group that was struggling to stop anybody. The Tigers have been through lot of changes since then and I am sure the returning players are eager to get back on the field and prove they are capable of performing at a much higher level.
(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.