AUBURN – Following its fourth consecutive loss, the Auburn Tigers (3-4, 0-4 SEC) turn their attention to the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-3, 1-3 SEC).
Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze addressed the media Monday ahead of the game.
"Obviously, the last three weeks, I think we've lost games to the number one, 12, and 15 ranked teams in the country," Freeze said. "I felt like we had a chance at two of those at home. Any time you have a chance to beat a team that's highly regarded, then you certainly regret it. You look at everything and think – 'Man, if we could've done this, if we could've done that.' So, all of those things. But I think it speaks volumes for how our kids are playing, and I tell you what I know it speaks volumes for is our incredible fans at Jordan-Hare."
Freeze talked about the quarterback situation and what it might look like moving forward.
"Whatever our offensive staff convinces me is the best approach to give us a chance to win a game," Freeze said. "I've said from day one that I think Robby has a place, and is his place every down? We'll see this week. If it's a package that enables us to continue drives. I think we always have to look at those things right now, with the current state of who we are. I'm not content, though, with anything right now offensively."
There has been a considerable amount of discontent surrounding the offensive play calling for Auburn. Freeze talked about the situation.
"(Coach Montgomery) is calling the plays," Freeze said. I obviously have input. I'm never one to sit up here and place blame on coaches. It's a combination. It's all of us. I certainly listen to the plan and evaluate it, but it's harder for me than I thought with the verbiage to be involved in every area. I paid a lot of attention to tight red zones. We've been pretty good in the red zone at times, but we're not getting there enough to find out if our plans are really good or not. So, it's a combination. I'll jump in from time to time, as do the O-Line coaches and others, but (Coach Montgomery) is the play-caller currently."
Freeze stressed the importance of running different packages and the benefits of doing so.
"I have always believed in subbing packages," Freeze said. I don't know of any team I have played that didn't go from 11 to 12 to 13. You are still running the same offense. They had a plan. When we went to the Robby 13 package, they had a hold. The good thing about it, none of their pass rushers were in the game. That was a good thing, and we tried to take a shot. I do think you've got to be multiple in your personnel. I have always believed that. That won't change. In time we are going to get to where the offense is the offense."
Freeze said he wanted to be multi-dimensional but understood the importance of playing to the strength of the offense.
"I told the staff yesterday that we have to be more balanced," Freeze said. I firmly believe you play to your strengths. I do think that we have proved we can be somewhat successful running the football, but I do think that we have to play balanced football. We must find the things that our players can do - receivers, quarterbacks, protections - and be more aggressive in calling those.
"I expect to see that change some, but I'm not sitting here saying to you that you won't see more runs than passes. I think we have to play to our strengths. Now, this team we are playing this week, they are really chaotic on defense. It's really hard to consistently run the ball on them and hard to protect. We have a lot of things facing us for sure."
Auburn had a lot of recruits on campus this weekend. Freeze talked about the importance of that and how it will benefit the program in the future.
"The turnout was incredible, and I think they see people that really look at this objectively," Freeze said. "I don't know what our class rankings have been the last five years prior to our arrival or anything, I don't know what they've been, but I think they see 'Man, I could contribute to this,' and the energy is in the stadium again.
"They feel that on Tiger Walk. They see that in the stands. I thought every meeting I had prior to the game, after the game, then all day Sunday with those that were still here went extremely well, and I think that we are in on the right kids. We just need a group in the '24, '25 classes to come join us to really get this thing kick started."
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT, and the broadcast can be found on the SEC Network.
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