AUBURN – Hugh Freeze is 1-0 as Auburn's head football coach.
Freeze acknowledged how good it felt to win the first game but stressed the importance of refocusing ahead of the trip out west.
The Tigers will have to travel across the country for this week's contest against the Cal Golden Bears and Freeze acknowledged how much of a challenge that can be.
"I would like to play somebody over here on the East Coast," Freeze said. "But it was done and me complaining or not embracing it is not the proper response. I haven’t, the only one I’ve done is BYU. It was a challenge and this one is even further. In another time zone. I think it creates some challenges, but this will be a good test for all of us."
He continued, "Coaches, training staff, nutritionists, strength staff, support staff and players. How do we handle if things are a little uncomfortable or it’s not exactly the way we want it. I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone, and you’ve got to play a really good football team at their place. When our body times are 9:30 or 10 at night and we’re kicking off."
Auburn likely will not be at full strength this week. Freeze named a few players who might be missing.
“We have the availability of a lot of players is up in the air. Normally I would rather not even comment on all of them," he said. "We have a long list from Nick Mardner to Austin Keys to Jaylin (Simpson) to (Nehemiah) Pritchett. All of those guys can hopefully have a good week. We could really, really use some of those guys.”
The status of star running back Jarquez Hunter, who did not play against UMass, is also unknown.
Jaydn Ott, Cal's star running back, has caught many people's attention and Freeze is no exception.
“Just hand it to him," Freeze said. "I mean, it isn’t like they have created some special deal, just run inside zone or outside zone or counter with him, and if it’s semi-blocked well he’s a handful. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s got great vision. He is really, really talented.”
Cal will provide a significantly tougher test for Auburn than UMass did defensively. Freeze acknowledged how well-coached Cal is across the board.
"This is not like last week," Freeze said. "We can see everything. His kids are going to be in the right spot, they are going to be lined up correctly, they are going to play hard, they are going to tackle well, and you’re going to have to drive the field multiple times. They are going to try not to give you explosive plays, and we have got to try to find a way to have some."
"They are just going to be in the right spot. They are just extremely well-coached for what they do. It’s not a complicated scheme, but they do what they do really, really well. And last week it worked. They only gave up 40 yards rushing I think, had three picks, held them to 2-of-11 on third downs. They had a really, really good defense effort in game one," he added.
Kick-off is set for 9:30 p.m. CT and ESPN will carry the broadcast of the game.
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