JARRETT STIDHAM (PHOTO BY WADE RACKLEY)

Dye-Gest Column: Spring Ball at Auburn

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

I continue to enjoy watching the Auburn softball team, which won exciting games on Friday night and on Sunday vs. LSU. Coming back from behind in both of their victories, the Tigers showed the same type of mental toughness, fight and competitiveness they played with last year.

I am just a fan, but I can see they are still a work in progress because there are growing pains taking place with some of the young players. Also, the pitching staff isn’t as deep as it was last year after losing those three seniors.

I saw where the baseball  Tigers got another shutout win over the weekend, their sixth of the season. This one was with freshman Davis Daniels on the mound most of the way. Hopefully, for Coach Butch Thompson can continue to get strong pitching from his starters. Maybe there will be nicer weather this weekend for the Tigers at Plainsman Park as Florida comes to town to start the SEC portion of the schedule that starts on Friday.

Coach Bruce Pearl’s basketball team wrapped up its schedule last week in Nashville with an earlier ending than it hoped. I would say the players are probably the most disappointed about staying home in the postseason because they know they didn’t close out some games they should have won and the SEC Tournament loss to Missouri was a prime example of that.

The team was much improved over the previous season and considering the Tigers started four freshmen much of the season and that they have other key players returning, I am expecting the improvement to continue.

When you look at who Coach Pearl has coming back and the talented players he is bringing in for the 2017-18 season, it is exciting to me. There are certainly areas his Tigers need to improve in, but there is going to be a lot of firepower on that team. Looking at all of the teams in the SEC, I see Auburn being right there with any of them.

I want to congratulate Coach Flo’s team in receiving a bid to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for a second straight year. It was an up-and-down season for the Tigers, especially with the shooting and rebounding, but the Tigers were usually very good defensively.

I also want to congratulate Jay Jacobs for being named the athletic director of the year, a national award which is a compliment to him and the Auburn athletic program in general. I believe that award is based on how the teams compete along with academics, community service and achieving the goals on and off the field of competition. As Auburn people we would like to never lose and win championships in every sport all of the time, but that isn’t going to happen. What I think we are seeing are Auburn men’s and women’s teams that are competitive and represent themselves and the university very well.

The Auburn football team is on spring break with the rest of the students. I remember when I was a player I always looked forward to the break from school and football practice. As a coach I enjoyed spring practice because it gave me plenty of opportunities to get to know the players better and develop a better feel of whether or not they were going to be ready to contribute in the fall.

I also enjoyed the spring practices because that is when you could get a good feel about how committed the guys were to developing into a successful team. I don’t believe there is anything out there that is more of a true team sport than football. You have 22 on the field for each play with 11 on each side of the line of scrimmage. To be successful, especially on offense, all 11 guys have to be synchronized to carry out their assignments play after play.

If somebody makes a mistake and causes a play to break down, it is tough to be successful. The team concept is so critical to developing championship caliber players at every position who have a role in determining successful or failure on the football field. As a coach I learned a long time ago you don’t have to have a great player at every position to win football games, you just have to have a guy at every spot who is going to be a winner by being consistent at doing his job on every down.

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