Dye-Gest: Tigers Continuing to Grow

Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about what has impressed him about the 2016 Auburn football team.

I expected this improving Auburn football team to play well vs. Arkansas, but like a lot of other folks I was surprised at just how well the Tigers performed and how much they dominated the Razorbacks in a 56-3 game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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It’s been 35 years since I came to Auburn and during that time I don’t believe I have seen a better all-around performance from the Tigers. Looking at it from every aspect, there was so much to like.

The kicking game was strong, the defensive play was strong, the offense set an SEC record for rushing yards in an regular season game (543), there were no offensive turnovers and the Tigers finished the night with just two five-yard penalties.

I expected Auburn to win, but was totally surprised at how dominating the Tigers were. They never flinched and it was another example how this group is growing as a football team.

Previously, I mentioned that this team has good chemistry and that would be a key to continuing to develop as the season progressed. That is exactly what is happening when you have players rooting for each other and who are eager to please their coaches.

That chemistry showed up on a night when the Tigers threw just 13 passes, but got great play from the wide receivers, who were serious about blocking, which was a major reason why the running backs put up huge numbers vs. Arkansas.

I don’t see any selfishness or any long faces when I watch this team. It is a good atmosphere and there is good body language on that football team right now and all of the credit goes to Coach Malzahn because he sets the stage for all of them. The decision he made after the Clemson and Texas A&M games to focus on his head coaching duties and let Rhett Lashlee make the offensive play calls on Saturdays has paid tremendous dividends.

I think this team is mature enough to understand that what it did vs. Arkansas isn’t going to help them when they play this week at Ole Miss. Beating the Rebels in Oxford is going to be tougher than handling the Razorbacks in Auburn was last Saturday night. The Tigers are going to need to be focused on their assignments and ready to play at a high level to make sure they head home with another victory.

A key ingredient will be the play at quarterback. Sean White is just a redshirt sophomore, but he is playing well and has shown that he can get the job done on the road, which is very important for a football team that is still young in some areas. He is playing at a high level and it will important to keep him healthy even though I think his backup, John Franklin, is making progress.

It is fun for this old coach to watch a team with the kids playing so hard, a team where everyone is pulling for each other on a roster loaded with players and coaches who are working hard to get better. For all of those reasons and more, I am going to be excited to see these guys get back on the field this Saturday night to see what they can do vs. Ole Miss.

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