It will be important for Gus Malzahn and his coaches to have their Tigers ready to play their best football of the season when they take on the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
When you are playing at home vs. a conference opponent you need to take advantage of the opportunity to compete in front of your fans. You need to go out there and perform with the swagger and enthusiasm that creates excitement for the crowd and your teammates. That is the atmosphere the Tigers need on Saturday because this is an important game for Auburn. It’s also an important game for Ole Miss.
Auburn is coming into the contest following an open date, which I think in this case is probably a very good thing because it enabled the coaches and players to go over the mistakes from the first month of the season and work on corrections. Another reason it is a good thing is the Tigers are facing an opponent that will come into this game very serious about bouncing back from its first loss of the season.
I expect to see an improved Auburn team for game five, both offensively and defensively, and I believe that is what it is going to take for the Tigers to leave the stadium as a winner on Saturday night.
I am really looking forward to this game. I am eager to see what Nick Marshall can do now that he has four games of experience under his belt and an extra week of preparation to play Ole Miss. You would like to see the quarterback put a whole football game together, which he hasn’t done yet. Marshall has had great moments, but neither he nor the Tigers as a group have played consistent football for four quarters. If they do that I think they can be pretty sporty on offense.
Defensively, I would like to see the Tigers keep playing their young guys. There is speed and quickness on that front four with guys like Montravius Adams, Elijah Daniel, Carl Lawson and Justin Delaine on the field. The more they play the better they are going to be.
The way the SEC race is shaping up there is a good chance that the league could have a rematch of last year’s championship game with Georgia taking on Alabama.
In the SEC West I believe Alabama will be favored to win every game, even vs. LSU, a team I don’t think will win at Alabama. I don’t see LSU being able to throw the ball up and down field like it did against Georgia and I think Alabama will be good enough to contain LSU’s running game.
Georgia will be favored to win the rest of its regular season games, too, and would probably be unbeaten now if it had not played an early game on Clemson’s home field. If those two teams played a rematch on a neutral field I would like Georgia’s chances.
Both the Georgia and Alabama games are always important ones for Auburn with those opponents being the Tigers’ rivals, but for now Coach Gus Malzahn’s team needs to be totally focused on playing great football in game five on Saturday, performing with the level on intensity you would expect to see from the Tigers if they were lining up against the Bulldogs or Crimson Tide.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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