AL.com’s Joseph Goodman absolved Hugh Freeze for the performance of the 2023 Auburn football program for, well, Bryan Harsin reasons, ahead of a Week 5 matchup with Georgia in which they are a multiple-touchdown underdog — and pitched a goal to his coaching staff to be more like Bruce Pearl’s.
“Current Auburn coach Hugh Freeze gets a pass on this entire season, and the focus of every decision for his staff should be figuring out how to recruit Atlanta like Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl recruits Atlanta,” Goodman wrote.
“Freeze can’t blame Harsin after this season, but everything we’re seeing on the field with Auburn’s awful offense is tied to Harsin’s wretched time on the Plains. Harsin was so destructive in his two years as Auburn’s coach that he makes me want to throw a party in honor of former Auburn coach Doug Barfield and rename a street on campus after him.”
Auburn football attitude has been one resigned to losing ahead of and during SEC play
There was no sunshine pumping ahead of Auburn’s Week 4 matchup against Texas A&M, one in which they lost 27-10 at Kyle Field and didn’t score a single touchdown on the offensive end. Freeze himself tempered expectations for SEC play during game week.
“You’re playing the best recruits in the nation — we’re going to be there soon, and that doesn’t mean you can’t compete and win the game, there’s a reason they are third in the nation on third down defense,” Freeze said ahead of the Texas A&M matchup (h/t AL.com). “They’ve got a bunch of 5-stars in the defensive line and at linebacker and at safety and at corner. They are really, really talented.”
That is a sentiment that is being amplified ahead of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry game, and figures to only slow down somewhat ahead of the Tigers’ return to Death Valley to face LSU; their first visit to Baton Rouge since they ended a two-decade -plus drought in 2021. But truthfully, it cannot persist beyond that.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State are programs Auburn football routinely knocked off during the Gus Malzahn years. If there is still a mountain of doubt that the Tigers can overcome the Magnolia State schools, AU will have gone through the growing pains Freeze has feared since before SEC play.