Year 1 is too early to call for a head coach to be fired, but one of his assistants? That’s fair game. In the regular season finale, Hugh Freeze did what he’s always done best *insert recruiting violations joke here, no not that. He went toe-to-toe with Nick Saban and Alabama, but his defensive coordinator, Ron Roberts, wasn’t ready for the bright lights.
In his first Iron Bowl as the head coach of the Auburn Tigers, Hugh Freeze had No. 8 Alabama on the ropes, facing fourth-and-goal from the 31-yard line with 43 seconds remaining. Then, Jalen Milroe and wide receiver Isaiah Bond connected on the most unlikely of touchdown passes.
At 6-5 and coming off a 31-10 loss to New Mexico State, Auburn didn’t come into this game with much hope, so competing as a 10.5 underdog was a positive step for the program. It just doesn’t feel that way with this type of heartbreaking loss.
Auburn fans have to feel good about having Nick Saban’s possible kryptonite on their sideline for the years to come, but they’re already tired of Roberts. Roberts was the defensive coordinator at Baylor under Dave Aranda for the last three years before joining Freeze’s staff.
Robert’s defense allowed 451 yards and 6.6 yards per play, but fans are mainly unhappy with his lack of aggressiveness on Alabama’s final offensive play. Freeze even used a timeout after seeing Alabama’s alignment before that play to allow Roberts to get to his best call. That call was a two-man rush with a quarterback spy.
Spying Milroe was effective throughout most of the fourth quarter, but even with eight men in coverage, D.J. James was left one-on-one against Bond. He got beat in the back corner of the end zone to seal the devastating loss.
Auburn ranked 49th in total defense this season under Roberts, but with rivalries like the Iron Bowl, your season is judged by how you perform in one game. Roberts wasn’t up to the test.