AUBURN – Following Auburn's loss to No. 8 Alabama, head coach Hugh Freeze addressed the media one final time to close out the regular season.
Freeze spoke about the game, what Auburn may be looking to do in the transfer portal and turning the page to bowl game preparation.
"I just wanted to say to our fans and supporters and students and band and cheerleaders, everybody that provided that type of atmosphere for our young men to play in and for us to coach in – thank you," Freeze said. "It was incredible. Off the charts good. I think it’s the best home atmosphere in the country."
"I know a lot of good recruits got to see that, so that was incredible. So, thank you to all the Auburn Tiger family. It will forever be a regret that we didn’t get to celebrate together after it. I would have immensely enjoyed that. That would have really, really been nice. Having said that, I think our kids played with the type of passion, energy and physicality that you have to play with top teams in the country," he added.
Freeze talked about the thought process behind the 4th-and-31 play.
“We had a lot of discussion on that (4th-and-31) because they had a timeout and we saw what they were in," Freeze said. "They were in empty, so your choices are ‘Do we rush him?’ and if we do, then we haven’t really got him on the ground very much, and he can scramble around and they’ll have a bunch of one-on-ones back there. So you could do that and one of their guys goes up and makes a play, or you can drop everybody and five-under, three-deep and play vision on the ball and knock the ball down because it has to go in the endzone. That’s the choice we made."
Auburn had a lot of recruits on campus for the game. Freeze talked about it being a beneficial day for that.
“The recruits, I think see it," Freeze said. "I mean the battles are never over when you’re talking about battling for the top guys in the country but for them to have that as an experience, that’s certainly a positive for us. I don’t know that they’ve been to a game that was quite like that. I think it was a step in the right direction for us to hopefully get to the finish line with some of those guys. Again, a lot of credit goes to our fanbase.”
Freeze discussed what preparation for bowl season might look like.
"I am going to sit down today, it is one of the things on my list, and make a hypothetical practice schedule based on the bowls that I think we could end up going to, so I'll have that ready," Freeze said. "We will try to get five to six here and then usually three more at the practice site. So, usually around eight practices is what we will try to get in and get a lot of good individual work and obviously a game plan together, but excited to get some of the young kids some work."
Players sitting out of bowl games has been a heavy topic of conversation in recent years. Freeze talked about what would be his first experience with it.
"I’ve always believed you finish," Freeze said. "You finish with your team. We signed up for this. However, I will say every situation is a little different. I’m gonna have to really put a lot of thought and prayer and seek wisdom for if that becomes the case here. There’s obviously some kids that will probably move on from here, so our people need to know that. That’s the new world we live in."
"Do you take to the bowl game those guys that are choosing to do that, or do you not?" he continued. "You certainly need to have some numbers. You want to do well, and you want to prepare well, so you have to have some numbers to do that. Some (coaches ) are probably pretty cut and dry. This is my first experience with it, believe it or not. I’ve never had to deal with it before. I’ll be learning through the process myself.”
Auburn will find out its bowl destination this Sunday.
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