Dye-Gest Column: A Lot to Like At A-Day

Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about Auburn's spring football game and the 2014 season in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

You couldn't help but be impressed by this year's Auburn spring football game and I wasn't surprised by what I saw out there on Saturday. If there was any surprise, and it wasn't much of one, it is that the team looked even better than I expected, and I expected the Tigers to look good.

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I think it was a wise idea to throw the football around like the Tigers did on A-Day. That is definitely an area the team needs to improve in from last year and from what I saw this group is stepping forward with the passing game.

I really liked the way Nick Marshall handled himself at quarterback and we all saw that he has a couple of outstanding receivers in Sammie Coates and Duke Williams. When you throw the football in their direction you stand a good chance of getting it caught.

There are other talented pass catchers on this football team and if I was going to choose an area in which the Tigers are most improved from 2013 to 2014 my pick would be the wide receivers and that is an exciting development for the Tigers.

When you look at the 2014 offense there are multiple guys who can go the distance any time the football is in their hands. In addition to Coates and Williams, Corey Grant can score from anywhere on the field and the same is true with Marshall, who is without a doubt a lot more comfortable directing the offense than he was last season. I think he is doing a great job. There isn't one quarterback in the SEC I would swap him for this year.

Another thing I liked about the offense on A-Day is that Cameron Artis-Payne picked up where he left off last year and that is a good thing. I am not going to say he is as good as Tre Mason, but he is certainly a winning running back in the Southeastern Conference.

It was a shame that the other running back, Peyton Barber, got hurt at the start of the A-Day scrimmage because it would have been a big day for him to show what he can do by getting carries in game conditions, but I think he will prove to be a good player this season.

Defensively, the Tigers seemed to tackle better and didn't have some of the breakdowns we have seen in the past. They looked like a more cohesive unit and the players also looked a little more physical than last year. Considering that several of the key players didn't play in the A-Day Game, including the potential starters at defensive end in LaDarius Owens and Carl Lawson, that is a sign this group has a chance to be improved.

Overall I thought A-Day went very well for Coach Gus Malzahn's team and it was a great way to end spring practice.

(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.

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