Dye-Gest: Tigers Really Need to Win At UK

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about why this is an important week for the Auburn Tigers.

Junior quarterback Patrick Towles (above) is a key performer for Kentucky.

It is an important week for a lot of SEC football teams and the Auburn Tigers are not an exception. Thursday night’s game at Kentucky is a big, big one for Coach Gus Malzahn’s squad.

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With the extra time to prepare for this game the Tigers really need to show improvement. They have made progress, I?believe, running the football, but there are a lot of aspects of their play that need to improve.

It is essential for the Tigers get good enough and confident at throwing the football to take advantage of what opposing defenses are doing against them to try to shut down the run.

Defensively, this team needs overall improvement up front at stopping the run and rushing quarterbacks along with avoiding the type of mistakes in the secondary that will get a team beat with one play.

I think the week off came at a really good time for the Tigers, allowing them to take stock of where they are and what they need to do to fix their problems and improve on both sides of the ball.

With this game being on a Thursday night at Kentucky with a national TV audience, you can be assured that it is a really important one for the Wildcats’ program. If Auburn was going in there 5-0 as a heavy favorite, I would see this as a trap game, but with the Tigers 3-2 and not having played well there is no reason for Auburn to not play like a hungry team in Lexington.

What we see from the Tigers this week is going to tell us a lot about what we can expect to see from this team in the second half of the season because the game means just as much to Auburn’s season as it does to Kentucky and its season.

With Auburn off last week I watched a lot of football from around the country, some good, some bad. In the SEC I didn’t expect to see Tennessee beat Georgia, especially rallying from three touchdowns behind. You have to give the Vols and their quarterback a lot of credit for not giving up.

That loss may knock Georgia out of the SEC race, but it might not. This could be a year in which the league champion has two conference losses so the Bulldogs really need to take care of business this week vs. Missouri. Florida is unbeaten in the East, but I think there is a good chance that changes when the Gators play LSU this week. The Gators vs. Tigers matchup should be a good one to watch and the same is true of Alabama playing at unbeaten Texas A&M.

I don’t see Texas A&M being able to consistently run the ball on Alabama’s defense, but if they can have a good day throwing the ball the Aggies will have a solid chance to stay undefeated, especially if their defense can keep Alabama from dominating time of possession with its running game.

LSU has been solid at the line of scrimmage and how Florida matches up with the Tigers will give us a better read on how good the Gators are.

For Auburn on Thursday night a key will be containing Kentucky’s quarterback, Patrick Towles. The Tigers should matchup with the Wildcats talent-wise, but at quarterback Kentucky is much more settled. Towles is experienced and he is the leader of the offense. He can do a lot of good things passing and running the football. I don’t think Kentucky is a great football team, but the Wildcats are plenty good enough to beat this Auburn team if the Tigers don’t play better than they have in games one through five this season.

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