Dye-Gest: Time for Tigers to Step Up

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn football team as the Tigers prepare to play LSU.

Quarterback Jeremy Johnson is shown in action in his first season as the full-time starter.

Two games into the season Auburn has a long way to go, and I mean a really long way to go, to become a good football team. However, I think this group still has a chance to develop into a good team and might even become real good.

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Two things have to happen for this team to perform at a high level. Number one, it has to have some luck along the way, particularly when it comes to keeping key players healthy enough to be on the field when games are on the line. Also, the quarterback has to play a lot better and everybody has to rally around him and make plays.

Jeremy Johnson certainly needs help from his teammates to make his job easier. The Tigers cannot afford to have an excessive number of penalties and the other 10 players on the field with the quarterback have to carry out their assignments as close to perfection as they can. It is equally important for Auburn’s quarterback to stop pressing or doing whatever is causing him to throw the football to players on the other team. That can’t continue if the Tigers are going to have a chance to handle strong opponents.

If the offense just comes close to producing at last year’s levels I think this team has enough potential to improve on defense to be able to win games against good competition this year. However, with the defense struggling at the same time as the offense it is going to be tough to win games.

The Tigers have some guys playing really well on the defensive front, but with having to play up to three true freshmen at the same time in the secondary is an issue. Some of them may end up being great players, but right now they are still freshmen.

So far on defense I have been very impressed with Rudy Ford at safety and three guys up front are off to good starts. Montravius Adams is playing better than he has ever played before. Dontavius Russell is performing well as a redshirt freshman and Devaroe Lawrence has played well when he has been out there. Of course, when Carl Lawson has been healthy he has been strong up front, too.

Despite the obvious problems the Tigers had last Saturday, both offensively and defensively, to me there is still a little light at the end of the tunnel. Players on both sides of the ball came up with the plays necessary for the comeback win vs. Jacksonville State. The way the Tigers played late in the fourth quarter and in overtime with their backs against the wall was encouraging and they did it against what I?think was an opponent that could play other teams in the SEC and not get embarrassed.

If I was a player or coach on this Auburn team I would be looking forward to Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge getting the opportunity to play against a good LSU team in one of the most challenging homefield environments in football. The Tigers need go to in there free-wheeling with fire in their eyes and lots of energy. They need to play hard from start to finish and let the best men win. If these Auburn players are what they are supposed to be they will have a chance. If not it will show.

LSU has a good team with great talent, but certainly has some questions, too. Auburn has talent, too, but is a team short on experience at some places that has some folks hurt, but that is all part of football. Somebody has to step up and now is the time for that to happen.

Coach Pat Dye’s Website

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