AUBURN, Ala. (WHNT) — Hugh Freeze’s message for week 1 is clear following an offseason of hope for Tigers fans — He just wants to deliver.

Freeze addressed the media on Monday ahead of Saturday’s home opener against UMass in which he was peppered with questions about injuries, quarterback play and his emotions on returning as an SEC head coach.

In the press conference, Freeze touched on the emotion of his return and said he believes that he will experience a first-time feeling as a coach entering Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“The most exciting thing to me will be just taking in what I consider to be the one of the best home atmospheres in college football,” Freeze said. “I don’t know that I’ve had that, no offense to any other place that I have been, but I just don’t think I’ve ever been at a place that has quite the enthusiasm and passion and energy that I think Jordan-Hare’s gonna have.”

With that enthusiasm and passion comes pressure according to Freeze, pressure to deliver to a fanbase whose team has gone 17-19 and is on its third head coach since 2020. The new Tigers coaching staff reignited the fans excitement this offseason by adding 20 players from the transfer portal and 21 players from the high school rank. Now, Freeze is hoping the ‘reveal party’ lives up to fan expectations.

“It’s going to be a magical experience I know in that stadium provided that we play well,” said Freeze. “That’s the pressure or the anxiousness that you feel sitting in this chair is just wanting to deliver.”

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“The incredible fan base that we have has welcomed us so much and bought season tickets and we’ve expanded the stadium size and it’ll be at capacity for Saturday,” said Freeze “You hear all those things and you just so badly want to deliver.”

The opening opponent is one Freeze is familiar with as he took on the Minutemen every season that he was at Liberty, posting a 4-0 record against the program. Despite that previous success, Freeze said the UMass program has improved under Don Brown in his second year as head coach.

“I’ve played them every year the last four years and I saw drastic improvement last year under Coach Brown,” said Freeze. “I have great respect for him, I think he is one of the best defensive play callers in the country.”

UMass enters the match-up with the Tigers after picking up a 41-30 win over New Mexico State on August 26. Kick-off for the Tigers and Minutemen is set for 2:30 p.m.