When I watched Washington State play its opener at Auburn that looked like a well coached and well conditioned football team. The Cougars crossed the country, came into Jordan-Hare Stadium and played a very physical game that gave Coach Gus Malzahn’s Tigers a real test.
In week two the Cougars made a road trip to Los Angeles and came home with a victory over Southern Cal, which to me says a lot about the coaching staff and players at Washington State. I wasn’t surprised that the Cougars were able to beat the Trojans and it confirmed to me that Auburn’s season-opening win was probably more impressive than a lot of people realized.
I also thought Auburn’s second win was a good one. I was on the field before the game watching Arkansas State warm up and physically that was a good looking football team. They might not have been as big as Auburn, but that team had a lot of good athletes.
The fact that Auburn’s defense managed to keep Arkansas State from scoring a touchdown was impressive. It looked like the Tigers were running around pretty good out there and lit ooked like they were excited to be on the field trying to play the way a good defensive team should play. It wasn’t perfect, but I?think there is a lot of upside for this group going forward.
Through two games the Tigers have played a lot of guys on the defensive front four and none of those guys has looked out of place at all.
Seniors Nosa Eguae and Craig Sanders started at the end positions in game two while juniors Angelo Blackson and Ben Bradley started at the tackle spots. What caught my eye about the front four was the quickness and athleticism the backups showed vs. Arkansas State with Carl Lawson, Justin Delaine and Elijah Daniel playing end and Montravius Adams at tackle. Those guys can all run and Coach Rodney Garner played those backups a lot on Saturday night.
An area for an improvement is at linebacker. That showed up in game two with the amount of yardage Arkansas State’s quarterback was able to make on runs when he scrambled out of the pocket when he couldn’t find a receiver. It is up to the linebackers to keep those kind of plays from making big yardage.
The secondary has been solid as the Tigers head into game three with Mississippi State coming to Auburn to open Southeastern Conference play. Auburn’s defensive backs are making a few mistakes back there, but they have made a lot of good plays. I think they have the skills to match up against the people they are going to be playing against this year.
There are positive signs on the Auburn defense. If those guys can stay healthy and keep playing, they are going to get better and better.
(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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