Gus Malzahn's Tigers arrived at their off-week 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. They have a chance to show up at game five vs. Ole Miss as a considerably more dangerous team with an extra week of practice under their belts.
I don't think there is any team the Tigers play this year that has a chance to improve more than Auburn does throughout the course of the 2013 schedule, and I think there are several reasons for that.
The more the players become comfortable in their new offensive and defensive systems, the more pressure they will put on opposing offenses and defenses. The Tigers have a lot of young guys contributing and I think they will get better whether we are talking about the receivers, the defensive front, the linebackers or whatever position.
Another reason I believe Coach Malzahn's team is going to improve is because of the attitude and effort these kids are playing with on Saturdays. If they continue to do that good things are in their future.
The only obstacles I see that could be a major roadblock to this team getting significantly better would be to have serious injuries to key players. For instance, the Tigers need to keep guys like quarterback Nick Marshall and tailback Tre Mason on the field playing full speed throughout the season.
Tre Mason is hoping to rush for his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
As a bigger, stronger player his junior season, I believe Mason is developing into one of the better running backs in the SEC. I would put Jeremy Hill of LSU and Todd Gurley pf Georgia at the top of the list in the league and T.J. Yeldon of Alabama is a good back, too. The way Mason is playing right now he might be as good as Yeldon. I think Mason is a guy who breaks more tackles than Yeldon does and it is fun to watch the Auburn back run.
I certainly expect Marshall will keep improving at quarterback and his production will be a key factor when Ole Miss comes to Auburn next week. The Rebels are very good offensively and it will be important for Marshall and his teammates to keep up.
Auburn's offense will miss Jaylon Denson, who is out for the season with an injury, but there is no reason why that group can't be better for the Ole Miss game, which in my opinion is a big one for building confidence with so many strong opponents still to play.
(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.