Dye-Gest: Opening Night for the Tigers

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn Tigers as Coach Gus Malzahn's team prepares to play Washington State.

Auburn's opening opponent is a team that will probably come into Jordan-Hare Stadium wanting to throw the ball 70 times on Saturday night. Personally, I would prefer to see the Tigers play a more hard-nosed offensive team to get a better read on the rebuilt defense, but it is certainly a game that will give us an early read on how Auburn's rebuilding project is coming along.

Whether or not Auburn is going to be able to contain Washington State's offense is something we are going to have to wait and see on because the Cougars will probably be able to move the ball on everybody they play.

Offensively, I think Gus Malzahn's guys are going to have a chance to score a lot more points than the Tigers did last year. Defensively, the Tigers should be better, but I think there are still plenty of questions on that side of the line of scrimmage.

One of the reasons I think the Tigers will be better offensively this year are the guys up front. Although there isn't a senior in the group there are four returning starters in the opening night lineup and overall it is an athletic bunch. I expect Auburn to be able to run the football successfully vs. Washington State with the big guys leading the way.

Whenever you are starting a new quarterback that is always a question. With a proven tailback returning in junior Tre Mason and a promising newcomer in the backfield with Cameron Artis-Payne carrying the football, I think the Tigers can take some of the pressure off quarterback Nick Marshall by not having to throw the football a lot Saturday night.

The most solid area of the 2012 team was the kicking game and it looks like the Tigers should be in good shape in that area again this year with Cody Parkey handling the kicking duties and Steven Clark the punter.

Opening nights for a new coaching staff are always full of unknowns and this one won't be any different, but it looks to me that Coach Malzahn and his assistants have done a lot of good things since taking over the program and I think that will be evident on Saturday night.

If that is the case Auburn fans will leave the stadium feeling better about their team than they did at any time last 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.

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