I excited about what has already happened and what can happen for the rest of the season. They are having fun playing and that is so refreshing to see.
Defensively, the Tigers are performing better than last year, particularly on the front four and in the secondary. This team already has six interceptions. That is quite a jump from last year when they had two--one on a deflection to a linebacker and one by a walk-on defensive back against Alabama A&M long after the game was decided.
The Tigers are obviously much improved on offense, but need to do a better job with the passing game. I don't believe Auburn is a bad throwing football team, but I don't think the Tigers are good enough to win a football game against a strong run defense team that is going to force them to put the ball in the air.
Auburn is going to play some teams in the second half of the season that are going to make the Tigers throw the football to beat them. I think this team has the ability, both at receiver and quarterback, to win games by throwing the ball, but the Tigers aren't there yet.
Another plus for this team is that the offensive line is playing as well as anybody's in the SEC so the Tigers can continue to improve at moving the football whether it is on the ground or in the air.
Auburn's victory over Ole Miss was a good one because it was the type of game you gain confidence from. Defeating a ranked team, whether you are at home or on the road, is a positive thing. When you do it while realizing you didn't play your best football that lets the players know what they are capable of doing if they will continue to improve.
I actually think the Tigers have gained confidence after every game this season, even following the loss to LSU. Although the Tigers lost down there in Baton Rouge they were whipping LSU in the fourth quarter and came back home knowing they were certainly capable of playing with a team ranked in the Top 10, which is what Auburn fans expect from their teams.
The Tigers still have plenty of work to do to be able to beat those type of opponents, but I think fans are happy with the job Gus Malzahn and his staff are doing so far as the Tigers head into Saturday's Homecoming game vs. Western Carolina.
(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.