Expectations are always high coming out of spring training and going into the preseason. As a coach you hope and expect that kids are going to step up and improve in areas where you need that to happen for your team to be successful. For this team that just hasn't happened like it needs to, particularly at quarterback, the most important position on the field.
Quarterback is where a team's success starts offensively, but in fairness to the quarterbacks they haven't had the kind of support around them they need to be successful. When you are borderline, at best, at the quarterback position, you need all of the help you can get and they have not gotten it.
This season Auburn changed offenses and brought in a new coordinator. I think what the Tigers are doing offensively is fine. It is not what they are doing, it is how they are doing it. Scot Loeffler can call a masterful game and if the plays don't get blocked properly they are going to look bad because people in this conference will make you bad.
With what the Tigers are trying to do offensively it is not a finesse game, and that means the guys on the line need to dominate at the line of scrimmage. That isn't happening for the Tigers. Auburn's style of offense is not a lot different from what they are doing at Georgia, Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and other places in this conference as well as other places around college football that are having success this year.
As a coach you would like to wave a magic wand and make it get better immediately, but the fact remains that the Tigers are playing with a true freshman at right tackle, a redshirt freshman at left tackle, a sophomore at center and a sophomore right guard along with a senior who isn't playing very well at left guard. This is a problem area for the 2012 Tigers. I think those guys are going to be good players in time, but right now it looks to me like their heads are spinning and there are not enough older guys around them to make the chemistry what it needs to be to win.
When you break down at the line of scrimmage, it is hard on the quarterbacks, hard on the running backs and is hard on the wide receivers because the quarterback doesn't always have time for them to run their routes and get the ball to them. That is where this team is right now as it starts the second half of the season this week at Vanderbilt.
Combine the blocking issues with the quarterback play that needs to improve along with too many turnovers and too many negative plays that put the offense behind the chains and those are things this offense can't afford to do.
Defensively, what I see is a team that has made some strides in certain areas, but still has plenty of room for improvement. The Tigers are struggling at linebacker and something that really stands out with this defense is that it isn't creating turnovers. The team has intercepted just one pass this year and has come up with just six turnovers, which is a big problem.
There is just one solution to what is ailing this team and that is for the coaches and players to be as positive as they can be and keep working. If the players will continue to do that things will change for the better because there is nothing wrong with the coaches or what the Tigers are trying to do on offense, defense and on special teams.
This team should be better six games into the season than it was vs. Clemson and I think they are better, but other teams around the league should be getting better, too, so Auburn needs to keep pushing hard to eliminate the mistakes that have plagued this team, find a way to have some success and build on that.
In 2010, when the Tigers won every game, that group believed it was going to win every time it took the field and played that way. It seemed like every break went their way and this year it seems to be the reverse. An example of that is in the national championship game Dyer rolled over a tackler and his knee never hit the ground. He kept on running and set up the game-winning field goal vs. Oregon. Against Ole Miss, on a similar play in the fourth quarter when Auburn was about to get the ball back with a chance to tie the game, the Ole Miss player rolled over the tackler, kept on running and went 50-plus yards for a touchdown.
Combine the way the Tigers are playing along with what I think has been a challenging schedule and you have a team that is struggling to win football games.
From the Mailbag:
Just wanted to let you that my Nancy and I agree with you all the way (Oct. 9th Dye-Log). There are a lot of Auburn people in Guntersville and we bleed orange and blue. Best wishes to you and yours.
War Damn Eagle
Larry and Nancy McCalister
Thanks for the note. I am glad you are enjoying the column.
(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.