Auburn football is “quietly primed to exceed expectations” during the 2023 season according to USA Today’s Blake Toppmeyer and John Adams — who stubbornly stuck with their original prediction that Hugh Freeze would lead the Tigers to a last-place finish in the SEC West.
“Hugh Freeze doesn’t waste time reinvigorating programs,” Toppmeyer/Adams prefaced before saying, “Arkansas State won 10 games in his lone season as coach. Ole Miss went from 2-10 the season before Freeze’s arrival to 7-6 in his Oxford debut. Liberty won eight games in Freeze’s first season. In fact, in 10 seasons coaching FBS, Freeze has only had one losing season. Auburn’s offense will have more passing-game punch with transfer Payton Thorne winning the job, and the Tigers return a good dose of production on both sides of the ball. The Tigers might quietly be primed to exceed expectations.”
Why the original last-place Auburn pick was retained, you may ask? Well, until Freeze starts winning games, piling on the negativity will be in vogue for perhaps the most selectively unforgiving American public we’ve ever been a part of. What Freeze is outspoken about will always have national publications turned against him. As will overhauling a roster seemingly overnight. But Sonny Dykes should’ve proven that a College Football Playoff team can be built through the transfer portal.
Auburn football will exceed expectations because of underrated transfer talent
An outdated trope that many college football analysts are still hung up on is doubting talent transferring from the Group of Five or the FCS. Brian Battie and Shane Hooks, as examples, are star-level playmakers who won’t get credit due to who they used to play.
With rebuilt trenches on both sides of the ball and a slew of new skill-position acquisitions, Auburn football has done more than any team in the SEC to take a step forward in 2023. The job Freeze has done has been so convincing that analysts are almost ready to drop their personal biases when talking about the Tigers exceeding Earth’s core-level-low expectations this fall.