Dye-Gest: Beating the Bulldogs Won't Be Easy

Pat Dye, a Hall of Fame coach at Auburn and an All-American at Georgia, writes about this year's renewal of the SEC's oldest football rivarly.

Will Muschamp (left), Auburn's defensive coordinator, is shown with Mark Richt after last season's Georgia-Florida game won by Muschamp's Gators.

After a good win, one that was certainly much-needed for the Auburn football team, it’s time for the annual Auburn-Georgia rivalry game. In my opinion it is not going to be any easier this week for the Tigers.

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When I start evaluating football teams I begin doing it by looking at the record and who they have played. Georgia has lost to Alabama, which I think is the best team in the Southeastern Conference and it may be the best in the country at this point of the season. The only other losses were to Florida and Tennessee.

Florida, a team with just one loss, is going to play in the league championship game thanks to having a great defense. Tennessee hasn’t been great this year, but has a pretty good football team.

Georgia hasn’t always looked great in its victories. For example, the Bulldogs struggled offensively vs. Missouri, but played pretty good on defense in that contest and in others so I believe Auburn will need to bring its “A” game on Saturday. The way the Tigers got whipped over there in Athens last season there are a lot of players who need to redeem themselves in this year’s rematch.

If I was an Auburn football player, I would be interested in getting my respect back this Saturday, especially the guys on the team who are from the state of Georgia.

I am proud of this Auburn coaching staff and the 2015 team for overcoming the disappointments they have had through a season that hasn’t gone like they hoped. I really enjoyed seeing their hard work and resolve pay off with an impressive victory against Texas A&M.

Not only did the Tigers get a much-needed win after losing three games in which one play could have made a difference, the team stepped up its performance level to beat a Top 25 team on the road last Saturday night. I thought the Tigers played an inspired game on both sides of the ball for the first time this year.

Also for the first time this season it was very obvious that the offense and defense were tied together. It wasn’t a situation where one side was doing well and the other one was playing poorly. Against Texas A&M the offense controlled the football and the defense did a better job of getting off the field and giving the ball back to the offense. I think the defense only gave up two plays that went for long yardage and they weren’t that big. That is particularly impressive when you think about the speed and the receivers Texas A&M puts on the field. I thought Auburn’s defensive and offensive coordinators had the right game plans to give the Tigers the best chance to win.

Defensively, the Tigers went into College Station knowing they couldn’t afford to let Texas A&M’s quarterback run free like he did vs. South Carolina a week earlier, and that didn’t happen to the Tigers on their visit to Kyle Field. Auburn’s defense did a solid job of containing Kyler Murray and when he did get outside the defenders did a great job of rallying to the ball.

Offensively, the Tigers were successful in attacking the Aggies by getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands in a hurry while throwing in a couple of shots down the field that went for big gains. That was a recipe for success on a wet, windy night when the offensive line was doing a good job making holes for the running game.

I am really impressed with the job Jeremy Johnson did at quarterback after being benched earlier in the season. He didn’t sulk or hang his head. He kept working and when he got another chance he took advantage of it. He was ready to play and it looked like he had a good time doing it, something that was great to see.

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