AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -- Hugh Freeze will start his Auburn tenure with a win as the Tigers dismantle UMass, 59-14 in front of 88,043 fans, the largest home crowd in Auburn history.
A new-look Auburn offense came out of the gates hot, scoring on their first drive from 62 yards out. Payton Thorne and the Auburn offense cruised, scoring on the first five offensive possessions of the game.
Even though running back Jarquez Hunter was unavailable, it was a strong showing for Auburn on the ground totaling seven different ball carriers and gaining 292 yards. Robby Ashford, although he did not get the start, was a man to be reckoned with in the RedZone for the Auburn offense scoring three touchdowns in the half with his legs.
“Every press conference I’ve been in, I’ve said, Robby Ashford is vital to us winning football games," Freeze said about Ashford's performance in the redzone.
Ashford wasn't the only player for Auburn to score on the ground. Damari Alston got the start for the Tigers with Hunter being inactive. The sophomore found the endzone on the first possession of the game and ended the day with eight carries for 43 yards.
Tiger fans got the chance to see how deep the running backs room is with freshman, Jeremiah Cobb, getting five carries for 57 yards and a touchdown of his own. Sean Jackson was the last Tiger to score on the ground after ripping off a 45-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter.
By the end of the day, the Tigers outgained the Minutemen by 194 yards, finishing with 495 total offensive yards.
“We could have been as balanced as we wanted to be tonight," said Freeze. "And anytime you’re running the football effectively you consider yourself balanced because they have to commit people to the box.”
After giving up an opening drive touchdown, the Auburn defense came back out making a statement, forcing two turnovers, and not
allowing another touchdown until the 4th quarter.
Leading the charge for the Auburn defense was linebacker, Eugene Asante, with 6 tackles. Donovan Kaufman had a big sack on UMass Quarterback, Taisun Phommachanh, forcing a fumble that Jaylin Simpson would recover. Later, Simpson would intercept Phommachanh for a pick-six. Auburn gave up 301 total yards to the UMass offense.
“We made some adjustments and I thought we played better than we did the first drive, obviously, but I think we still are giving up too many explosive plays in the run game,” said Freeze.
Auburn will make the cross-country trip next week to take on California. Kick-off is set for 9:30 p.m. CT. on ESPN.