Dye-Gest: Keys for Iron Bowl Success

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about this year's Auburn-Alabama football game.

The Senior Night game was exactly what the Auburn football team needed. Everybody got to play, the guys who needed to rest and get healthier were able to do that and quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin got an opportunity to play and both did a good job.

That game vs. Alabama A&M couldn’t have come at a better time on the schedule as the Tigers get ready to go to Tuscaloosa for the last game of the regular season. Looking at it from a coach’s perspective it was encouraging to see that the Tigers didn’t go out there on Saturday night and slop around against a less talented opponent.

Auburn had just one turnover in the game and there weren’t many penalties. The defense played consistently hard throughout the ball game and was able to reach its goal of having a shutout. Offensively, the Tigers did a lot of good things, too, while playing a lot of backups.

The Tigers should be in a perfect state of mind going to play Alabama, the No. 1 team in the nation. They have never backed off from the challenge of playing with intensity in games at Tuscaloosa and I don’t expect that will be an issue this year based on what I have seen from this Auburn team.

If you at the Tigers and look at Alabama, you would have to say that Alabama deserves its high ranking, but I think Auburn has a talented team, too. A break here or there at the right time could make Saturday’s game interesting.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens in this rivalry game. I have always believed you can’t be the best unless play the best and beat the best. The Tigers have played a great schedule this year and should have a great idea of how to use their personnel.

In my opinion a key to the ball game will be which team does the best job of avoiding mistakes. If you look at Alabama it has been very opportunistic. If you at the turnovers each defense has create there is not a great discrepancy, however, what is different is that Alabama’s defense has scored on so many of its takeaways.

Offensively, Alabama is basically running Auburn’s offense and the quarterback has done great job all year. Sean White has done a really good job at quarterback for Auburn when healthy, but whether he plays or not this week I don’t know. If White is not available and the Tigers need to go with Jeremy Johnson or John Franklin the offense won’t be going out there firing blanks. Getting Kamryn Pettway back, who has missed the past two games with an injury, would be a big bonus.

I?might be wrong but I think it is going to take big plays for there to be a lot of scoring because of the strength of the defenses. I really don’t see either team taking the football and steadily moving it down the field four or five yards at a time. I think it is going to take field position changing plays to set up touchdowns.

I?am looking forward to seeing what happens on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The Tigers just need to line up and play. They have nothing to lose and can out there and be free-wheeling and reckless--the way the game is supposed to be played.

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