Auburn will try to end that trend this year and will get an early start on its title defense. The Tigers haven’t opened a football season vs. SEC competition since pounding Ole Miss to begin the 1995 season, but this year they will take on divisional foe Arkansas to begin the season on August 30th at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Senior tight end C.J. Uzomah said the Tigers don’t mind starting with a league test vs. the Razorbacks. “I love it,” he said. “I think everyone is already amped up for football season as is. Having an SEC game off the bat is something that is really going to kick it into full force. I know we are excited as a team and we are going to get after it.”
Asked if opening with a league game puts more pressure on the Tigers to perform, Uzomah said, “I don’t think we will be feeling the pressure as much as the excitement that comes with having the opener with an SEC opponent with the bullets flying straight off the bat. I think we are looking forward to it.”
Coach Gus Malzahn predicts his Tigers will be an inviting target for every team they play. “Last year we snuck up on some people,” he said. “This year we are going to be circled. We told our players that.
“We are going to have to be better in every phase--especially early in the season,” Auburn’s second-year head coach added. “We will get everybody’s best shot. Really, that is where you want your program to be.
“Last year at this time we were just trying to get back to that point,” he noted. “Last year we did that. Obviously, we are disappointed that we came up 13 seconds short of winning the whole thing. We are extremely motivated from a players’ standpoint and a coaches’ standpoint moving forward.”
Reese Dismukes returns for his final season of college football after starting for the three previous seasons.
All-SEC senior center Reese Dismukes noted it “would be cool” if the Tigers could end the drought on back-to-back champions, but said that their head coach has the players squarely focused on taking care of details one day at a time with the goal of preparing for the season opener vs. Arkansas.
Dismukes said the 2014 Tigers have plenty of potential to be successful after finishing the 2013 season with a 12-2 overall record and 7-1 SEC mark. “As long as we go out there and do what the coaches ask us to do, and get better each and every day, the sky is the limit,” he said.