Dye-Gest: Time for Passing Game Tune-Up

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about Auburn football and basketball in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

Chip Lindsey (left) and Gus Malzahn (right).

I know it is fun and interesting for me, like other Auburn fans, to sit back and watch and listen to what all the experts have to say when a big decision is being made in the football program like the one to hire a new offensive coordinator. It ultimately comes down to the guy they are paying the big money to, the head coach, to make the right decision for his program.

Before Gus Malzahn hired Chip Lindsey as his offensive coordinator and quarterback coach I knew that Chip had done well at previous jobs, but I didn’t realize that he had developed as many outstanding quarterbacks as he has in college and in high school. They are certainly not all Power 5 jobs, but we all had to start somewhere. It will be important for Auburn that he continues that trend.

With Coach Lindsey’s history growing up in the state of Alabama, and even spending the 2013 season on the Auburn staff as an analyst, the team’s new offensive coordinator certainly understands the SEC in general and Auburn’s program in particular.

He is well known to the high school coaches in this region, which can help in recruiting, and I am excited about his potential to improve Auburn’s offense. However, there is always a but. In this case you have to prove you can do it on the field in a new setting so it is too early to be sure just how good this hire will be for the Tigers.

One aspect of the offense I expect Coach Lindsey to focus on improving is the passing attack. Auburn has been predominantly a running team in recent years. I sure believe in the importance of a strong running attack, but I also believe you have to make folks defend the pass for the running game to achieve its full potential.

I don’t think the Tigers have made defenses really defend the past as much in recent seasons as they did when Cam Newton was the quarterback in 2010 and when Nick Marshall was the guy in 2013 and 2014. Nick certainly wasn’t the most polished passer in the SEC when he was at Auburn, but he was more than good enough throwing the football to worry defenses when he dropped back to pass. It was not a coincidence that Auburn’s 2010, 2013 and 2014 teams scored a lot of points.

I think the Tigers have the pieces in place on offense to be improved on that side of the ball this year. I think the defense has a chance to be good, too. It is up to the coaches and players, conditioning coaches and the rest of the staff to develop the chemistry a successful team needs. The Tigers should set their goals and standards high in 2017 and looking at the schedule they certainly need to do that considering who they will be playing.

The situation is similar to last year with really challenging games, including an early season road test against the national champion Clemson Tigers. Auburn will play its regular season finale against the championship game runnerup, Alabama.

I see games like those as an opportunity. If you want to be great you have to be excited about the chance to play those people. You need to be chomping at the bit to get out on the field and prove yourself against those guys.

We are now in the heart of basketball season and I certainly want to mention how much I enjoyed watching Coach Bruce Pearl’s team win their rivalry game over the weekend against Alabama. Coach Pearl has an exciting young team. I know there were a lot of Auburn folks who were smiling about what they saw on Saturday.

Coach Pearl has brought exciting young players into the program and I?am looking forward to see the group continue to develop this season and beyond.

I am pulling for the Auburn women’s basketball team to have success, too, because I like how Coach Flo’s group plays. They are always out there fighting, scratching and battling for four quarters trying to find a way to win. When they come up short, like what happened on Sunday against Kentucky, it is not because they aren’t trying hard. I would like to see this team get it really going offensively and have a strong second half of the season and make a run in postseason.

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