AUBURN – Nothing needs to be said in that Auburn locker room. Derrick Brown is sure of that.
Quietly inside, they all remember the sinking feeling from walking off that field last year at Mississippi State.
“There’s nothing to speak about,” said Brown, Auburn’s standout defensive tackle, speaking grimly this week. “You know what happened last year.
“It’s just time to go to work.”
Auburn hosts Mississippi State at 6 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first meeting of the teams since the Bulldogs’ 23-9 win over the Tigers last fall in Starkville, Miss. Cowbells rang into the night that evening, as the Tigers hung their heads.
“They embarrassed us,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said.
And it’s stuck with Auburn.
This week, there’s no reminiscing on the Plains over a big road win last Saturday at Texas A&M, and there’s no looking ahead toward a potential T op 10 showdown with Florida coming up, or any congratulations going around about the team’s jump up to No. 7 in the major polls.
Instead, Auburn just wants to beat Mississippi State.
And Auburn wants that, badly.
“They definitely embarrassed us last year,” Brown said, agreeing with his coach’s words. Mississippi State rolled up 349 rushing yards on Auburn last year in a rocking night game at Davis Wade Stadium. The Auburn offense was held out of the end zone.
Then-quarterback Nick Fitzgerald ran wild and then-first-year head coach Joe Moorhead earned a signature win. Frustrated, the Tigers coasted back across the Mississippi line in silence.
“We let the quarterback run for a bunch of yards. That was the highest rushing total we gave up all year,” Brown said. “On defense, look at their rushing statistics and stuff like that — that’s a lot of yards to give up in a game. That really was an embarrassment.”
On the other side, Auburn’s offense only rushed for 90 yards in that game.
It’s easy to see why Auburn won’t be overlooking this team in preparation this week.
“We’re playing a very good Mississippi State team — a team that really just, bottom line, embarrassed us last year. They just lined up and whipped us,” Malzahn said. “That was a tough one.”
And like Brown said, Malzahn doesn’t think there’s much that needs be said.
“The great thing about us, we’ve got most of our guys back. You really don’t have to say anything. They know exactly what happened,” Malzahn said.
“They’re a good team,” he went on. “I don’t have to say much. Our guys know. It’s a new year. It’s completely a new year but at the same time, when you have experiences, whether you’re a player or coach, you remember. And we’ve got to respond.”
That’s the challenge for Auburn this week — starting in preparation even before Saturday’s kickoff.
“That was a bad game, top to bottom, really everywhere,” Auburn offensive right tackle Jack Driscoll said. “It’s something that we’re really going to hold a grudge on this week, because like you said, we got embarrassed and that’s unacceptable — offense, defense, special teams, everyone included.
“This week we know we have another challenge in front of us.”