AUBURN – Flip the script is something that Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze has been preaching all season. That surely rings true this week.
Coming off one of the worst losses in the history of the program, Auburn now turns its attention to the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide for the 88th edition of one of college football's most storied rivalries, the Iron Bowl.
Freeze took the chance on Monday to reflect on the loss to New Mexico State.
"(That was) about as disappointing as I've ever been in coaching with Saturday's effort," Freeze said. "It was an embarrassment, too. It can't happen like that. It starts with me. I have to get our coaches and our players ready to play, and I obviously missed the mark tremendously. It's frustrating and sickening to watch. Jerry Kill's crew did exactly what they needed to do to win the game. You have to give them credit."
Auburn needs to find a way to respond. Freeze talked about what that might look like and how possible he believes it to be.
"I don't know yet," Freeze said. "I hope so. That’s part of playing this game. If you've played or coached this game long enough, you're going to have some of those. How you respond to it will determine a lot about you as a team and as a person. I wish I had a better pulse for that, but I haven't seen them yet. I met with the Culture Counsel this morning, and I liked their response. That's going to be a good test for all of us is to see how we respond.”
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe has been solid this season. Freeze talked about the importance of keeping him under control.
“We didn’t fare well against a kid similar to him at LSU," Freeze said. "Now he is playing at a very high level with good receivers and good running backs. It is a very difficult task for sure. I don’t know that you completely do that. You got to hope that you do limit those explosive play somewhat. Stopping him, no one has really done that. We got to mix up the coverages and mix up the plan. Figure out if we can get pressure to him or not. Do we need a spy? We have all those things going through our heads right now. How much can our kids handle and do well against all the different sets you might see?”
Fan support will be vital for Auburn this week. Freeze acknowledged just how big of a difference it can make.
“The Auburn faithful has persevered through a lot of things, and they show up," Freeze said. "I’ve already apologized a hundred times for the effort that we did not give them Saturday. This is not the first program in year one to have some tough losses like this. I could go down the list and mention some but you probably know who they are better than I. We are in a rebuild, and that’s no excuse for what happened Saturday. We expect to give you the best of ourselves come Saturday in the Iron Bowl, so we appreciate all of the times you give us your best, and I know this Saturday will be no different for them.”
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT, and the broadcast can be found on CBS.
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