My guess is there weren’t any Auburn fans who left Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night who were not proud of the effort they saw from their football team. The players, coaches and fans are all sick the Tigers didn’t win. Playing the No. 2 ranked team in the country down to the finish is not a moral victory, but what it showed is that this team can play with a lot of heart.
By showing a willingness to play as hard as they could for the whole 60 minutes, the Tigers impressed me. We saw everything you need to see to build a championship team around when it came to effort, and that is where it starts. All of the teaching, all of the fundamentals, all of the techniques and all of the ability in the world isn’t enough unless you combine that with great effort, and that is what this Auburn team displayed on Saturday night vs. LSU.
Really and truly, we didn’t see that type of great effort in Auburn’s first three games this year. The performance in game four could be a sign that this team is growing up and improving, especially on defense. My hat is off to the defensive coaching staff because that looked like a different football team they put on the field Saturday night.
Something that may have helped was that LSU’s offense was very different than the spread formation teams Auburn faced in the first three games. However, without a doubt something that helped Auburn vs. LSU was the way the defense hit players on LSU’s offense and hurt them. That gives you hope that better Saturdays are on the horizon for this year’s team.
I normally prefer to write about things of substance, but there is some BS that I want to comment on. Last week there was a rumor, supposedly coming out of the Auburn Athletic Department, that Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder told Coach Wayne Bolt he had to leave a defensive staff meeting.
I don’t know the details of how or why the rumor got started, and who in the media gave the rumor credence, but I checked on what really happened and was told there was absolutely no validity to it. If it had actually happened, considering the way the Tigers played defense vs. LSU, maybe that is something that needs to happen every week. However, that isn’t the answer because the rumor was total BS.
Maybe it was started by an Alabama fan, or a disgruntled Auburn fan. I don’t know. Maybe some people believed it because they are trying to come up with a reason why the Tigers are struggling as a football team, assuming that there must be dissension on the coaching staff. Well, that is just not true.
What is true is that Auburn’s quarterback, and the offense in general, is going through growing pains. Kiehl Frazier’s growing pains have made the team’s start painful for everybody, but there is still plenty of room for others around him to step up their performance levels. That was obvious as early as the second play from scrimmage on Saturday night when he threw a perfect deep pass that should have been a touchdown, but the ball was dropped. There were plenty of other plays that could have been made, too, that might have been the difference between winning and losing Saturday night.
When you are in a struggle and are trying to win, all of the plays that your team doesn’t make are magnified, and that is where this Auburn team is now. Earlier in the year I said the Tigers were a year away from being a really good team, but what I saw Saturday night is encouraging that there is hope this group can play a lot better than it did the first month of the season.
(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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