July 16, 2024

School Sports activities

“Not day to be a UMass Minuteman, for positive.”

Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze walks across the stadium together with his spouse Jill earlier than the primary half Saturday. Butch Dill/AP Photograph

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Robby Ashford rushed for 3 first-half touchdowns as Auburn defeated UMass 59-14 on Saturday in Hugh Freeze’s debut because the Tigers’ head coach.

Ashford, the Tigers’ 2022 beginning quarterback, was utilized in red-zone packages to enrich new starter and Michigan State switch Payton Thorne. Thorne threw for 141 yards and a landing in his Auburn (1-0) debut.

“Clearly, you at all times wish to be the starter,” Ashford mentioned. “However Payton’s finished an important job, and I have a look at him like a brother. We come on the market each day and simply know we’re out right here to make one another higher and do no matter we are able to to assist this workforce win.”

Damari Alston scored a dashing landing on the Tigers’ first drive, whereas freshman Jeremiah Cobb broke a 42-yard landing run on the second carry of his faculty profession. The Tigers rushed for 294 yards.

Alston began at working again rather than junior Jarquez Hunter, the workforce’s prime returner in dashing yards. Hunter didn’t costume out Saturday, and he missed Auburn’s first a number of practices in August for undisclosed causes.

Auburn’s protection recorded two takeaways and stopped UMass twice on fourth down within the victory. Jaylin Simpson returned an interception 50 yards for a landing and recovered a fumble pressured by fellow defensive again Donovan Kaufman.

“It was good to see our protection play laborious,” Freeze mentioned. “I believed we performed more durable than we now have within the scrimmages and than we did within the first possession. I believed we began to point out slightly ardour.”

UMass (1-1) scored a landing on its first possession of the sport however was unable to place up any extra factors till the fourth quarter. Kay’Ron Adams led the Minutemen with 101 dashing yards, whereas backup quarterback Carlos Davis discovered Arizona switch receiver Anthony Simpson for a late 58-yard landing.

“Not day to be a UMass Minuteman, for positive,” UMass head coach Don Brown mentioned. “However I actually consider our guys, we are going to rebound, we are going to observe laborious, and we are going to again subsequent week able to go.”

PLENTY OF FRESH FACES

Greater than half of the scholarship gamers on Auburn’s 2023 roster weren’t on the workforce final yr, together with Thorne and Cobb.

13 of the Tigers’ 22 offensive and defensive starters Saturday had been newcomers, which a number of gamers consider contributed to the slower begin Saturday.

“We’ve acquired a ton of latest guys, new teaching employees,” mentioned exterior linebacker Elijah McAllister, who transferred from Vanderbilt this offseason. “It was our first time enjoying with one another, so we sort of acquired acclimated and settled in.”

A RECORD CROWD

Freeze’s debut got here in entrance of the biggest dwelling crowd in Auburn historical past, because the Tigers introduced an attendance of 88,043 on Saturday. Auburn added new seating inside Jordan-Hare Stadium this summer season to develop from its long-time capability of 87,451.

“To see our largest pupil crowd ever and largest crowd ever, it’s simply fairly humbling,” Freeze mentioned. “I simply can’t say sufficient about their help and what which means to our gamers, our employees, our administration, all people right here at Auburn. It simply speaks to the love and fervour of the Auburn household.”

THE TAKEAWAY

UMass: The Minutemen had been in a position to hit the Tigers for a number of large performs however simply didn’t have the depth or athleticism to really compete with an SEC workforce after the primary quarter.

Auburn: The Tigers struggled to go and cease the run early, which had been each issues from final season. However second-half enchancment in each areas — and the general success of the dashing assault with out Hunter — had been constructive indicators.

UP NEXT

UMass: Hosts Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 9.

Auburn: Visits California on Sept. 9.