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Game Preview and Open Thread - Auburn vs Liberty

Last home game for some pretty special guys.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn’s final home game of the 2018 season has arrived, and to be honest, there are likely mixed feelings all around.

While most people absolutely live for Auburn football, this season has been nothing short of tiring. You remember the emotional drainage of the Cam Newton saga, wondering if things were going to tip the Tigers’ way or not? This season’s kind of felt like that with the turmoil surrounding Gus Malzahn. Will we fire him? Won’t we? What about the buyout? Who would we get? What about the administration?

It’s been a little exhausting. And we’ve still got three games to play, including today’s meeting with the Flames of Liberty (it sounds like a badass American-themed band when you say it that way).

What’s going to add even more weirdness is the face across the field leading the opposition. Auburn’s one-time head coaching target, Turner Gill, brings in Liberty for this game in their first season transitioning to the FBS. Gill was one of the popular candidates for the head job on the Plains when Gene Chizik was hired, but ultimately lost out. Amid the decision, there were criticisms of the process that were only silenced when Chizik won a national championship. Gill went on to an unsuccessful stint at Kansas before landing in Lynchburg, where’s done a good job leading Liberty as they make the move up a level.

But that’s all in the past. Most of the people involved in that coaching search a decade ago aren’t involved this time around. Instead, it’s an Auburn team that’s licking its wounds from a frustrating loss to Georgia last weekend, and likely looking ahead to next week’s game against Alabama.

Liberty’s offense is pretty solid, while their defense is near the bottom of the list in efficacy. Auburn should be able to move the ball, and should be able to rack up some pressure against a very immobile quarterback. Gus Malzahn has a tendency to use these types of games as preparation for bigger tests down the road, and at times it turns into a bit of a pressure cooker when Auburn’s not leading comfortably enough.

No matter what happens today, think about the guys that are leaving it out on the field for the final time at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Think about Chandler Cox, Ryan Davis, Dontavius Russell, Derrick Brown (likely), Andrew Williams, Marlon Davidson (likely), Darrell Williams, Deshaun Davis, and Montavious Atkinson. We’ve had some fun watching these guys, and there’s one last opportunity to do so today. Don’t waste it.


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