Auburn beat Arkansas in every facet of the game on Saturday. Following the win. Coach Hugh Freeze sat with the media and talked about it.
I’m really, really proud of our young men and our staff. It’s a game for bowl eligibility on the road, another SEC win. It’s just something I’m really proud of and I’m just thankful. I thought we played almost a complete game against a team that I thought played their best last week, so I’m just really thrilled. There are a lot of highlights for sure. I’m sure y’all will ask me those and I’m just thankful and I’m thankful for our administration, our school [and] our fans that they’ll be able to experience a bowl game somewhere. It’s an exciting day for us.
Immediate aftermath of knowing the team is bowl eligible:
I think it’s huge. It’s something that is truthfully, this is a bit selfish to say probably, but this staff and I and everywhere we’ve been, we’ve been able to do that in year one. I would like to keep that streak alive, and we have. More importantly for our seniors, for them to get to experience a bowl and represent Auburn, and then for the extra practices for our young kids. I thought it was an important step in us rebuilding.
On the defensive front’s performance:
I thought they made KJ [Jefferson] really uncomfortable from the start of the game. [They] really crushed the pocket. You know he’s going to break a few out of there. He has done it against everybody, but I thought our defense played really, really, really good. When we had a turnover and held them to a field goal, that’s a win, so I thought that was a big series in the game too.
As an added bonus, here are a few quotes from your Auburn Tigers…
Payton Thorne, Auburn QB
On being bowl eligible in his first year at Auburn:
Yes, that sixth win was an important one for us at this point of the season, and to put that away and do it on the road against a good team. They played good defense all year and I thought what we did today was good to see.
Key to getting off to a fast start in games:
I think it’s just coming in and being ready to play. I don’t think we have changed anything in terms of our plan … just execute. [We came] out there and executed the first few plays and got that first, first down and we were rolling, so we have to keep that up.
On clicking on all three phases of the game:
It was fun. It’s fun football. Our defense was outstanding, it was a ton of fun to watch them. Special teams has been money all year, and they were great again today. Our offense, we were able to get things going on the ground and through the air, and it was fun.
Jalen McLeod, Auburn LB
The pass rush unit had a slow start to the season, but over the last month of the season have picked it up:
We have gotten ten times better, you can actually see it in the last 3-4 games actually. We have been getting home and it comes from preparation. We know that it starts in the trenches so if we win, they can’t get the ball off and it helps the DBs, so it’s really coming down to us and we know that. We are figuring it out and watching film together every day.
How tough was it to bring KJ Jefferson down?
He about like 250? Yeah man it was tough man, but we are hungry, so it wasn’t anything, it’s just football.
What was it like to come into a stadium like that and be able to take the crowd out of the game like that?Yeah, you feel like a menace, you feel like a bad man. That was the second stadium takeover.
How important was it to get multiple people around the ball, whether that be KJ or the running back?
It feels good, he had no pocket standing, he couldn’t throw the ball, that’s exactly what you want. The interior, the edge rushers, we all knew that was what we wanted.
Marcus Harris, Auburn DL
It was really fun, getting to do this on the road with this group of guys, it was fun. We are excited to do it next week at home.
What all went into your defense today?
Just communication, locking in, and buying into the scheme coach Robins did this week. I feel like it was a great scheme for the defense, and we just locked in. Communicating was the biggest thing we were messing up, and we got guys that came back like Keionte, this game was very good for our defense.