Dye-Gest: Tigers Take A Step Forward

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye talks about the Auburn Tigers in this edition of the Dye-Gest column.

Coach Gus Malzahn (above) will take his 4-2 Tigers to Fayetteville this weekend.

There were a lot of interesting football games around the Southeastern Conference and the rest of the country last week that I really enjoyed watching and Auburn’s win at Kentucky was certainly one of them.

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It was an exciting win for the Tigers and a much needed one, too. Kentucky has a pretty darn good football team with a better than average quarterback and good receivers. I figured this would be a tough test for the Tigers, particularly playing on the road where the Wildcats have developed a good home field advantage. It was a game the Tigers had to play well in to win.

Anyone who knows anything about Auburn football who watched that game knows that what we saw in Lexington looked a lot more like Gus Malzahn’s Auburn offense than anything we have seen so far this season. That was the case with the tempo of the running and passing games and how the Tigers attacked their opponent. You could see from the body language that the players were eager to get back home with their first SEC win of the season and they completed the assignment.

The kicking game continues to be impressive. Daniel Carlson’s three field goals were a big part of the win and the Tigers did a good job on kickoffs with Carlson’s touchbacks and the returns by Kerryon Johnson and Rudy Ford.

The defense still isn’t where it needs to be. I think some credit should go to Kentucky. Their quarterback got a hot hand throwing the ball and there is still a lot of room for improvement in the secondary. At times the Tigers got some pressure on the quarterback and for much of the game the defense did a solid job of containing the run. The Wildcats finished the night with 138 rushing yards on 33 carries with 60 coming on one play as a result of a missed tackle and a defensive back being out of position. Those are the type of mistakes the Tigers need to eliminate.

With Arkansas up next on the schedule, a team that really likes to run the football, this is a week the Tigers need to take a big step forward with their run defense.

This week’s road game is not going to be easy. Arkansas was off last week so the Razorbacks have had plenty of time to rest up, get healed and rejuvenated while making changes offensively and defensively that could help their team in the second half of the season. I think Auburn’s off week certainly help the Tigers show up in Lexington as an improved football team.

If that trend continues for the Tigers, especially with the way Sean White is performing at quarterback, this team will have a lot better chance to win the remaining games on the schedule than I would have predicted several weeks ago.

This week’s game at Arkansas is going to take the Tigers doing a lot of things well if they are going to win it, but if they show up in Fayetteville and play with the same level of energy and confidence we saw in their last game they certainly will have a real chance to extend their winning streak to three in a row.

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