Dye-Gest: Fighting to the Finish

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye gives his take on the Auburn football team as the Tigers prepare to play Texas A&M in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

Shon Coleman (above) and the Tigers will take on Texas A&M on Saturday night in College Station.

I do a lot of talk radio shows, about 10 every week, and the feedback I get is that there is a lot of grumbling and disappointment among Auburn fans about how the season is going. I would say that is pretty much normal and some of it is probably justified with the season going like it has so far. However, I am not ready to throw in the towel yet on the 2015 team.

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I believe the Tigers have four very important games left and I would really like to see the players continue to go hard like they have been doing. I would have a really sick feeling in my gut about this group and where the Tigers are if they weren’t trying, but I don’t see that. I see a football team that is working to win although it is obviously a little short-handed in some places.

I watched the Auburn-Ole Miss game three times and I think Ole Miss played about as well as it has all year long and probably should have for several reasons. Number one, they got their All-American left offensive tackle back. Number two, No. 21, has made them a much better running team because he is a bigger, stronger back. The game before the Rebels played without their star defensive tackle, too, and he is probably one of three first round draft choices on the Ole Miss roster so you have to give the opponent some credit. Auburn still had a chance to win the football game until the closing minutes just like the previous week vs. Arkansas.

Counting the Mississippi State game, in three of Auburn’s four losses making a play here or there could have been the difference between losing and winning. The Tigers haven’t made enough of those and as a result they have a disappointing record.

I know there were questionable decisions in the Ole Miss game, but I believe they were made based on the knowledge the coaches have about their team and the desire to give their team the best possible chance of winning--even the fourth down call in the second quarter that didn’t work. I have done it myself and I have seen great coaches over the years in close games make decisions that if they work are going to help their teams win, but if they don’t work they are probably going to cost you the game.

You have to be thick-skinned to do it. You can’t make those type of calls if you are scared of the outcome because then you are making a decision for a negative reason rather than doing what you think gives your team the best chance to win.

As Auburn prepares to play Texas A&M the coaches are still working on fixing problem areas, but they sure aren’t alone. I would say the same thing is taking place this week at every campus in the Southeastern Conference, even in Baton Rouge, the home of the league’s only unbeaten team, or in Gainesville, where Florida looks like it is going to emerge as the SEC East champion.

The teams that have good finishes to the season are going to be the ones who stay together, keep grinding and stay committed to improving from week to week. If the Tigers keep doing that and don’t have success, yes it will be disappointing, but it won’t change my opinion about these players and the coaches. It would be different if they weren’t working hard to get better, but that is not what I am seeing, and I think I have enough experience that I could certainly identify it if they weren’t.

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