A much-awaited season debut is just around the corner for Auburn and the rest of the SEC and the Tigers are just excited to play.
The SEC football season was a question mark for months, but now the late-season opener approaches with excitement in the air.
Auburn opens with its first game against the Kentucky Wildcats this Saturday.
“I’m just thankful to play,” senior linebacker K.J. Britt said. “In March and April, we didn’t know we were going to play. I just really wanted to play here, just one more time in Jordan-Hare.”
“The circumstances are the circumstances and we just have to learn to adapt,” Britt said. “It’s like the new normal now. We can’t harp on the past. We just have to bring it, just got to be ready for whatever.”
Britt was a first-year starter last season, finishing the year with 69 total tackles and earned a spot on the All-SEC First Team.
Now heading into 2020, Britt was named a captain along with quarterback Bo Nix, running back Shaun Shivers and defensive end Big Kat Bryant.
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“Being a captain at an SEC school is a huge deal and something I’ll never ever take for granted,” Britt said. “Being a captain here at Auburn University and knowing who all was a captain before me and the foundation that they laid, it was a huge honor. [It’s] an honor that I couldn’t really put into words.”
Nix shared similar sentiments about being named a captain as this was one of the greatest honors he has ever received in his whole sports career.
He is also following in his father’s footsteps as Patrick Nix was a team captain during the 1995 season when he was under center for the Tigers.
As a true freshman last season, Nix led the Tigers with 2,542 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns.
Getting to play this Saturday has Nix more excited than he has ever been before for a game.
“I think I’m more excited than I’ve ever been to play a football game,” Nix said. “Just because of the build-up that it’s had and the questions and the chaos that it’s had. I think we kind of took it for granted in years past.”
Nix is also looking forward to being out in front a crowd and playing against an opponent that isn’t made up of teammates.
We’re just happy to be back out there, happy to be in front of a crowd, happy to play another team that isn’t ourselves, Nix said. “We get to play football on Saturday, and that’s a great feeling. I’m super excited about it.”
Just like the players and the fans, the staff is excited about the first game of the season.
Weeks of practice, Zoom calls and COVID tests have built an excitement like no other.
Head coach Gus Malzahn is looking forward to playing a good Kentucky team, but he’s also excited to start the season.
“It’s been a very interesting journey, a long journey,” Malzahn said. “There were a lot of weeks that you look back and say, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to play.’ And then the next week, they walk out and think we have a chance to play.”
Now fast approaching the first game of the season, Malzahn finally feels like it’s a game week once again.
“Just the excitement has been completely different for our players,” Malzahn said. “Even this Sunday’s practice was different because you could tell the urgency. I know for myself that it feels like game week and we finally got to that point.”
No. 8 Auburn will face off against No. 23 Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 26 inside Jordan-Hare Stadium at 11 a.m. CST.
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