Something that always excited me as a head football coach was to see my guys steadily improve throughout a season, week by week, with no regression. That is something every coaching staff works to make happen, but it is out of the ordinary when it does take place.
From what I have watched from the 2016 Auburn team it has done that during the first half of the season. With extra time to fine tune the offense and defense with no game last weekend, I expect the Tigers to be an improved team on Saturday evening when they face the Arkansas Razorbacks.
I?have said from day one that there are good kids on this football team and I like the coaching staff, too. My observation back in preseason is that the guys compete hard and look like they are having fun doing it. I just had a good feeling about this group and believed the Tigers were very interested in being an improved team this year.
If the players like the coaches and the coaches like the players, which I believe is the case at Auburn, it allows the type of chemistry to develop that is conducive to getting better. For Auburn to have a successful second half of the regular season the Tigers are going to have to continue to push forward.
That needs to show up this week against Arkansas because the Tigers will have the challenge of stopping one of the hotter quarterbacks in the country, Austin Allen, who took over the starting spot from his brother, who was a senior last year. The junior is playing with a lot of poise and confidence.
The following week features a road trip for the Tigers to Ole Miss, a team which is built around a talented and proven senior, Chad Kelly, so Gus Malzahn’s team will have back-to-back games against two of this season’s better quarterbacks in college football.
Pass rush and pass defense in the secondary are going to be at a premium for the next two ball games, but I don’t see any reason in the world why the Tigers will struggle with those challenges. While I am sure there haven’t been as many quarterback sacks as the players and coaches would like, the pass rush has been good and the coverage in the secondary has been good, too. You haven’t seen many receivers running loose behind the Auburn defense this year.
Any win against an SEC West team is a good one. Auburn has two of them so far this season and that is an accomplishment because from what I am seeing the West continues to be ahead of the SEC East when it comes to football.
With the early loss to Texas A&M the Tigers have been trying to stay alive in the SEC race and so far have been able to do that. A victory this week would help keep the goal in reach of making a trip to the SEC Championship Game. Auburn is far from the favorite to win the division and play the SEC East champ, but because there are a lot of twists and turns this conference race can make before the final regular season game is played it is too early to count the Tigers out.
Going back to preseason I said that I believed Auburn people were going to enjoy watching this team play. If they aren’t enjoying them then Auburn has a spoiled bunch of fans, but I don’t think that is the case.