Coach Gus Malzan (above) and his Tigers will try to end a two-game losing streak as they take on Memphis.
Darrell Dickey, the interim head football coach for Auburn bowl opponent, is doing his best to make Coach Gus Malzahn’s 6-6 Tigers seem like a formidable opponent.
Dickey’s team Memphis, which is 9-3 this season, will take on Auburn at the Birmingham Bowl to be played on Dec. 30th at Legion Field.
Dickey said the opportunity for Memphis to take on an opponent from the Southeastern Conference is “very interesting” to a Memphis program that plays in the lower-profile American Conference.
“Our guys love to play and they love to play quality opponents,” he said. “We seem to get up, and get ready and get more focused. I don’t know if that is out of fright or out of competitiveness, but they are very aware that we are going to have to be on top of our game in all three areas.”
Dickey is in charge of the Memphis team through the bowl game, taking over for Justin Fuente, who left to become head coach at Virginia Tech to replace Frank Beamer, who retired. Dickey will remain on the Memphis staff after the bowl game to work for new head coach Mike Norvell, who makes the move from his job as offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
“We are going to have to play as close to mistake-free as possible,” Dickey said about taking on an Auburn team that has to win its finale to avoid a losing record.
“We are going to have to play with unbelievable focus probably to block out the huge Auburn contingent that will be here, but that is what our program has been built on. When we first started Coach Fuente’s motto was, ‘Hey, let’s focus on the things we can control and do your job,’ and that is what we are going to have to do.
“We are going to have to be really focused and give it the best effort we have,” Dickey added. “It’s not going to have to be a miracle, but we’re going to have to play the best we can possibly play to even give ourselves a chance.”
The Memphis Tigers did quite nicely in their only regular season matchup against an SEC team this season, defeating Ole Miss 37-24 on Oct. 17th. Two weeks after that game that was played at Memphis the Rebels handled Auburn 27-19.
“Well, you know it (win vs. Ole Miss) showed us we can compete, but I don’t think that win has anything to do with this game,” Dickey said. “In college football some days the team that is on is going to beat the team that’s not on, and some days both teams are on and you end up with a great football game.
“Anybody can win any more in college football,” Dickey declared. “You see it every weekend. This team beat that team so the thinking is they should automatically beat them and the reverse of that happens. That’s what makes college football so great, the games are played on the field and the games are determined by the players on the field. It is one of those sports where whoever plays the best that day will win the football game.”
Memphis is averaging 42.7 points per game and 510.4 yards per contest. Auburn's head coach said he is impressed. "We are playing a very good Memphis team," he said. "When you look at these guys offensively, they are one of the very best offenses in the entire country. What really stands out to me is their quarterback, Paxton Lynch, a big, athletic guy who can throw it--28 touchdowns and three interceptions."
The Auburn coach said he is also impressed with how Memphis defends the run. "Overall, they are just a very good team."
The game will feaure an 11 a.m. kickoff on Wednesday, Dec. 30th at Legion Field and it will be televised on ESPN.