Dye-Gest: Tigers Need to Take A Step Forward

College Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn and other SEC teams.

Quarterback Nick Marshall (above) is shown in action vs. Kansas State.

For the Auburn Tigers this is a week to get the offense back in gear after having a surprisingly difficult time scoring points at Kansas State. Before the game I thought that playing Coach Bill Snyder’s team in Manhattan would be a challenge for the Tigers and that proved to be true, but I didn’t anticipate it would be so low scoring and that tight for four quarters.

Offensively, for the first time in a long while, the Tigers looked out of sync. I don’t know how much of a factor the crowd noise was. I was talking to one of the coaches and he said it is a “really tough place to play.”

Early in the game Nick Marshall missed a couple of his passes and his receivers dropped a couple of potential touchdowns. Combine that with Kansas State’s defense doing a great job of gap control to contain the inside running game and the Tigers found themselves in a four-quarter battle at Manhattan. When a defense stops the inside runs it makes it more difficult to run outside, and because that happened the Tigers weren’t able to put together enough drives to tire Kansas State’s defense.

If Auburn had executed its passing game more smoothly in the first half I don’t think it would have been a close game, but that didn’t happen and it is something the Tigers need to improve this week as they take on Louisiana Tech prior to heading into the really tough part of the schedule next month.

As a coach when you take your team on the road to play a team from another conference you have some concern about how the game will be officiated. There is a tremendous amount pressure on those officials and even though there should not be I know that is the case. Still, it was surprising that Kansas State didn’t get penalized a single yard the entire game by the Big 12 crew. Zero penalty yards is not a normal occurrence.

On those Kansas State punt returns it looked like somebody had a machine gun shooting down Auburn’s coverage team with three or four of the blocks that allowed good returns being clips in the back. Those returns gave the home team good field position and were a factor in keeping the game close.

Defensively, I thought the Tigers did a lot of good things in the victory, but the offense is a lot better than it looked vs. the Wildcats. Finding a way to win on a night when the Tigers weren’t as sharp as normal will be good for this football team. Having to play a tough, physical football game for four quarters is good preparation for going on the road in the SEC next month.

Every football team is different, even one like Auburn that returns many key players from last year, so with just one road game played the 2014 Tigers are still developing their personality. Although they didn’t play up to expectations in week three, they found ways to win the game and all in all it was a positive experience that should help this team down the road if they learn from their mistakes in Manhattan.

Here is a look at this week’s SEC games on a week when just 10 of the league’s 14 teams are in action.

Tennessee at Georgia--A strong running game plus more overall talent and experience should equal a victory for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Vanderbilt at Kentucky-Although they probably didn’t need it, the Wildcats had an extra week to prepare for this game they should win with ease in Lexington vs. the visiting Commodores.

Arkansas vs. Texas A&M at Arlington, Tex.--Both teams have been strong on offense this season. Arkansas has the potential to make this a close game, but I think Texas A&M’s offense will put up enough points to assure the Aggies of a victory in this game being played on the home field of the Dallas Cowboys.

Missouri at South Carolina--The Gamecocks have not been a model of consistency, but playing at home they should be able to handle the defending SEC champs who did not look good in last week’s loss to Indiana.

Memphis at Ole Miss-The visitors have scored points in bunches this year, but Ole Miss should have enough talent to take care of their neighbors from Memphis.

New Mexico State at LSU--This should be an easy bounce-back win for LSU prior to making a trip to Auburn next week.

Louisiana Tech at Auburn--With the Tigers playing on Thursday last week the coaching staff has extra time to look for ways to improve after an uneven performance in game three. I think that will happen and Auburn will keep the Homecoming visitors happy on Saturday.

Season record: 35-7.

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