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Friday, December 1, 2023

How are Hugh Freeze and Auburn’s veterans educating the Tigers’ Iron Bowl newbies?

When Hugh Freeze was introduced as Auburn’s head coach last November, surely there was a bit of learning he had to do.

From learning how to navigate the Loveliest Village on the Plains to learning the names of those on Auburn’s roster, there was a lot of catching up he had to do.

However, when it came to that certain football game in late November, Freeze didn’t need educating.

“The Iron Bowl is what it is. I don’t have to be educated on that,” Freeze said at SEC Media Days in July. “I’ve been a part of some big rivalries and understand that in most polls this would be No. 1. I know what it means to the people that support our university and our football program.”

However, the same can’t be said for everyone within Auburn’s locker room.

Considering the Tigers welcomed more than 20 transfers in the offseason and more than 40 new players as a whole, there are plenty of players on Auburn’s roster that will be experiencing the Iron Bowl for the first time on Saturday afternoon.

But Freeze refuses to let them go into the game uneducated.

“We’re going to try to educate our young man as best we can with use of former players and the history of this great game,” Freeze said Monday. “And hopefully they have a clear understanding of what it means to so many people.”

With Auburn set to celebrate the 2013 Auburn football team during Saturday’s game, it can be assumed that members of that roster might be making appearances inside the Tigers’ meeting rooms this week.

But in addition to former players, Auburn’s Iron Bowl newbies do have a handful of teammates they can lean on this week.

Guys like offensive lineman Kam Stutts and tight end Luke Deal have been at Auburn since 2019, meaning they’ll be suiting up for their fifth Iron Bowl on Saturday afternoon.

“Definitely just echoing what it means to each other,” Stutts said when asked what he preaches about the rivalry matchup to new players. “Obviously, we’re a team. It means something to one of us, so it means something to all of us.”

Stutts came to The Plains by way of Killen, which sits nearly 250 miles northwest of Auburn.

“The guys that are from here like me, it’s just expressing how we’ve grown up and telling some of the war stories that gets everybody going and gets everybody bought in,” Stutts said.

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