Hugh Freeze known as his shot. He deliberate to raid the switch portal, and he mentioned as a lot on the day Auburn launched him as its new soccer coach.
Freeze is aware of the form of expertise required to succeed at a excessive stage within the SEC, and the cabinet he inherited at AU wasn’t stocked with sufficient of it.
The vivid facet: Immediate eligibility for transfers permits Freeze to remodel the roster extra rapidly than he might when Ole Miss employed him greater than a decade in the past.
“I feel we are able to flip it pretty quick with the brand new world we’re in,” Freeze mentioned in November. “… Year 1, the portal shall be an enormous precedence.”
Thirteen transfers later, Freeze is delivering on his promise. And he cannot stop now. More wants require addressing, reminiscent of supplementing Auburn’s quarterback choices.
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Robby Ashford is a harmful runner, and maybe Freeze will polish his passing abilities. But Freeze has received sufficient at this stage that he ought to perceive when an incumbent starter has accomplished fewer than half of his passes, you must search extra candidates.
Expect Auburn to be one of many extra engaging locations for a switch quarterback when the portal reopens to new entries in May.
So far, it has been an interesting vacation spot for linemen. That ought to be no shock if you happen to noticed how Penn State manhandled Auburn at the road of scrimmage on each side of the ball in a rout on the Plains final September.
Of all former coach Bryan Harsin’s shortcomings in lower than two seasons at AU, probably the most obtrusive was how weak he allowed Auburn’s roster to change into. He ran off a number of the expertise he inherited and didn’t complement what he retained.
The end result was a roster that lacked sufficient skill-position weapons or the bodily energy within the trenches to match the higher competitors on Auburn’s sometimes fierce schedule.
Freeze’s switch additions aren’t mere reinforcements. Many will head straight to the entrance line.
Auburn’s three switch offensive linemen profile as starters, with Gunner Britton (Western Kentucky) and Dillon Wade (Tulsa) bookending the road and Avery Jones (East Carolina) within the center.
Four defensive linemen from Power Five colleges will beef up that place, whereas Austin Keys from Ole Miss turns into a fulcrum on protection.
Running again Brian Battie, who rushed for 1,186 yards final season at South Florida, ranks amongst Freeze’s high prizes.
Even with out a switch quarterback, 247Sports charges Auburn’s switch haul because the fourth-best nationally. That’s wanted after recruiting had cratered below Harsin.
It’s additionally the brand new playbook for any first-year coach in want of a fast roster overhaul.
Brian Kelly inherited extra expertise at LSU than Freeze was graced with at Auburn, however Kelly additionally labored the portal higher than anybody save Lincoln Riley of USC and Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss final season.
Kelly overhauled LSU’s secondary with transfers, and his quarterback plunder, Jayden Daniels, helped the Tigers win the SEC West in Kelly’s first season.
Coaches should know and embrace that that is the drill.
“There’s no endurance for long-term plans, anymore,” Kelly mentioned in November. “So, I feel all people goes into it with their eyes vast open that you are looking to seek out rapid outcomes. … The switch portal, particularly, lets you restock, by way of bringing it extra mature gamers.”
Kelly cautioned that coaches ought to “high off the tank” with transfers fairly than pump a full 16 gallons value of Transfer Unleaded from the Portal Stop Inc.
But some tanks require various clicks of the gasoline pump, and Auburn’s is a primary instance.
Anyone who watched Auburn battle to beat San Jose State or lose 5 consecutive SEC video games final season is aware of the Tigers have been greater than a participant or two away from being a strong SEC program.
A quarterback and vast receiver ought to be amongst Auburn’s subsequent wave of targets.
Impressively, Freeze upgraded and deepened his roster with out enduring many outbound transfers. He cannot ease off.
Spring observe ought to present Freeze that Auburn’s tank is not full but.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and observe him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.
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