Dye-Gest: No Reason to Relax for the Tigers

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn Tigers and SEC football as Auburn prepares to play the Texas A&M Aggies.

Nick Marshall (above) heads to the end zone in Auburn's 35-31 victory over Ole Miss.

After picking up a big SEC win on the road it is important for the Tigers to not go to sleep this week against Texas A&M even though everybody knows the Aggies are having their struggles right now. However, Texas A&M has the type of team that has the potential to cause problems if you show up at the stadium not ready to play good football.

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The Tigers need to make sure this one doesn’t turn into a shootout because the longer it goes on as a close game the more confidence the visitors will gain. It is going to take a great coaching job, combined with strong leadership from the players, to get ready for this week’s game.

Because it is a conference game it is just important for the Tigers to win as the Georgia game is and the Alabama game is if they want to go back to the SEC Championship Game to defend their title.

The Tigers are coming off a good road performance at Ole Miss. It was kind of a crazy game in some ways, but it was a great win for the Tigers, although it was an uncharacteristic one because of all the penalties. The Tigers have not been a team that plays undisciplined football, but had some of that Saturday night that helped Ole Miss keep it close.

The Tigers were hit with penalties that could have been avoided and had no significance to the success or failure of the play. That leads me to believe that Auburn was a lot better team than Ole Miss to overcome so many penalties and win on the road against a highly-motivated opponent.

Offensively, it looks like Auburn’s line is getting better. It is starting to look more like last year’s group in how they have become consistent and work together as a unit.

Another plus for the Tigers on offense is that Nick Marshall is playing out of sight. It helps that his receivers aren’t dropping passes like they were at times earlier in the season and they are also coming through with some great catches.

Kris Frost makes a tackle on Johnny Manziel in last year's exciting Auburn victory at Texas A&M.

Defensively, I thought the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage, but gave up big plays to the Ole Miss passing game. The Tigers also lost containment on the quarterback at times, allowing the Rebels to make big plays. It was not a pretty game from a defensive standpoint on Saturday night because of all the penalties, an issue which also hurt the Tigers on special teams. Those are areas the Tigers need to clean up as they get ready for this week’s final SEC home game of the season.

Here is a look at this week’s games involving SEC teams:

Georgia at Kentucky--I expect the Bulldogs to bounce back and win because Georgia has a lot more talent than Kentucky and can’t afford another loss in the SEC East race.

Florida at Vanderbilt--There is no reason to pick Vandy to win an SEC game this year.

Presbyterian at Ole Miss--The Rebels need a breather game they can easily win after back-to-back losses to LSU and Auburn, and that is exactly what a home game vs. this opponent is.

UT-Martin at Mississippi State--The Bulldogs can also use an easy game to stay unbeaten, get healthier and well rested for SEC West showdowns coming up vs. Alabama and Ole Miss.

LSU at Alabama--I think this game could be close and if Alabama struggles like it has at times on the road this year LSU could win this game. If LSU gets great play out of its quarterback it can win this one, but I am not expecting that to happen.

Texas A&M at Auburn--I know Coach Gus Malzahn has to be frustrated with the way his defense played on Saturday night and he and his staff are going to be doing everything they can to correct the problems. It is especially disappointing to coaches when their guys do some of the silly things we saw in the game at Ole Miss with the penalties and the communication breakdowns on assignments in pass coverage.

I expect the Tigers to be less mistake-prone on defense and special teams this week while continuing to perform well on offense. That should be enough for the Tigers to pick up their eighth win of the season.

Season Record: 63-19


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