The Auburn Corner: Grading Freeze’s First Season

(Photo by Austin Perryman/Auburn Tigers)

Every Tuesday right here you can read The Auburn Corner, where we’ll get into a different topic on the Auburn Tigers, break down the previous game, preview the upcoming game, and everything in between.

In this week’s edition, Auburn’s first season under Hugh Freeze is over, ending with three straight losses and an embarrassing domination at the hands of Maryland in the Music City Bowl. Things aren’t all bad on The Plains however, as Freeze has brought a momentum to Auburn recruiting that the program has not seen in a long time.

Let’s take a look at and grade Freeze’s first year as head coach of the Auburn Tigers:

Recruiting: A

This was never going to be a one-year build. The first job of Hugh Freeze was to pick up the pieces of the Bryan Harsin era and begin to create momentum on the recruiting trail, which he did before even coaching a game by flipping 5-stars Demarcus Riddick and Perry Thompson from Georgia and Alabama.

From a recruiting standpoint, Auburn was, and is, playing with the big boys once again. Freeze also flipped Cam Coleman from Texas A&M during the season, who is one of the best wide receivers in the nation and an instant upgrade over anything on the roster currently. Recruiting wise, it would be hard to give Freeze anything below an A.

On-Field: D-

The product Hugh Freeze put on the field was flat-out not good enough. Freeze brought in Payton Thorne from Michigan State, who struggled throughout the season and had perhaps his worst performance in the bowl game, and Auburn’s passing game was dreadful all season.

Close games against Georgia and Alabama are the saving graces, but moral victories unfortunately are not a reality in high-level college football.

Auburn was embarrassed at home by New Mexico State after a three game winning streak during which it appeared to be building some momentum, but it probably said more about the three SEC teams Auburn beat than it did about Auburn.

The Tigers only won six games with a schedule that was extremely favorable and should have seen at the minimum, a winning record. Nobody expected Auburn to compete for an SEC Title in 2023. But six wins with that schedule was, and is, unacceptable.

Overall: C

All tolled, given the fact that it was always going to be a process and positive momentum has been created on the recruiting trail, Freeze gets an overall average grade of a C. Auburn must take steps forward in 2024, but with Payton Thorne set to return and much of the receiver talent coming from unproven freshmen, Freeze may see 2025 as the year for Auburn.