I know a lot of Auburn folks are disappointed their football team lost the opening game vs. Clemson and there good reasons they should feel that way. However, there were also reasons to be encouraged by what we saw on Saturday night in Atlanta.
The number one thing I believe the Tigers can build on for the rest of the season is how Kiehl Frazier handled himself in his first college start. He wasn’t perfect, but neither were the people around him.
If the quarterback’s teammates had made two plays to help him out, Auburn fans might be talking about what an outstanding game he played. One of those was a pass to Trovon Reed, who was wide open in the end zone, but the receiver lost track of where he was and failed to get his feet on the ground in-bounds.
The other was a long pass to the end zone intended for Sammie Coates. That showed up on the stat sheet as an incomplete pass, but I thought the receiver should have adjusted to the ball and made that play. If the Tigers had made those two catches it would have been an entirely different game.
Sophomore Kiehl Frazier throws a pass vs. Clemson at the Georgia Dome.
Another positive the Tigers can take out of their opener was that the young offensive linemen performed better than I expected, particularly in obvious passing situations. Most of the night they gave their quarterback time to make plays. There is talent for the Auburn coaches to work with there and I expect the offensive linemen to get much better this season so there are reasons to be excited about the offense. The Tigers need to come up with a couple more receivers and it is obvious to everybody who saw the game the Auburn needs to get better in the red zone.
Defensively, without question it was a disappointing performance. Regardless of how you line up, whether you are in a 4-3, 3-4 or whatever, if you don’t tackle well opponents are going to pick up a lot of yards. That is exactly what happened on Saturday night.
Clemson had more than 500 yards of total offense in the opener and my guess is that total would have been around 300 without the missed tackles. The tackling problem should be something the players and coaches can get corrected. It didn’t look to me like Auburn’s problems were due to a lack of talent.
Next on the schedule is a road game at Mississippi State. I am looking forward to seeing what Auburn does against the Bulldogs. Some teams make a big jump in performance level from game one to game two. Other teams that improve during a season do it gradually from week to week. I expect Auburn to be a team that improves, but I am not sure how they are going to do it or what to expect on Saturday in Starkville other than a tough, physical SEC football game.
Mississippi State has always played hard against Auburn and will have a lot of motivation for this game after losing a close one last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This should be another big test for the Tigers.
(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 participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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