Dye-Log: Containing the Rebels

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn Tigers in this edition of his Dye-Log column.

I think the Auburn football team is at a critical point of the season because the game coming Saturday against Ole Miss is a matchup the Tigers can win and they need to win.

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However, for that to happen the Tigers have to play better than they did in the loss at LSU and better than they played in the three victories prior to that. Considering how challenging Auburn's schedule is the second half of the season, this team needs to take advantage of every opportunity it has to put a game in the victory column.

Auburn's players need to come out excited to play Ole Miss and the fans need to be ready, too. I think the Tigers got a break when the schedule came out for this week's games and this one was put under the lights. For whatever reason or reasons, the night games at Jordan-Hare Stadium seem to have more energy than the day games do, especially early in the season when it is still hot during the day.

The Tigers can't count on Ole Miss coming to Auburn down after getting beaten at Alabama last week. Based on what Hugh Freeze has done as a head coach the Tigers need to expect an opponent that will come to Auburn excited about the opportunity to redeem itself after a poor showing last Saturday night.

I thought Alabama had a good plan for slowing the Ole Miss offense, which had been moving the ball and scoring a lot of points in its first three games.

The first thing you need to do when defending Ole Miss is to put the clamps on running back Jeff Scott. Everything the Rebels do on offense is based around his potential to make big plays. He is a little guy with a lot of speed, but he is surprisingly strong, too, and he can break tackles.

He barely rushed for 25 yards last Saturday night. If you take Scott out of the game that means that Bo Wallace has to beat you running and throwing. He couldn't do that against Alabama. It remains to be seen if he can do it against Auburn or if the Tigers are capable of controlling Scott, but I expect Auburn to make a serious effort at getting that done.

However the Tigers approach this game strategy-wise, it is very important that they show up as a better football team this Saturday night than when we last saw them two weeks ago in Baton Rouge.

The off-week at this point in the season is a great opportunity for a team to make a lot of improvements, but I have seen teams that came off open dates looking stale that took a step backwards instead of getting better. If Auburn does that it is going to have problems beating the Rebels because it is probably going to take a strong performance, offensively and defensively, for the Tigers to pick up their fourth win this week.

(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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