For the first time in nearly two years, the Auburn Tigers are getting set to play in front of a packed road crowd.
Auburn’s trip to Penn State will put the Tigers in front of a crowd of roughly 106,572 people who will try to maximize the Nittany Lions’ first White Out game since they hosted Michigan in October 2019.
Although there will be a smattering of Auburn fans among the Penn State faithful, Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin explained the team is doing what it can to prepare for what for some players will be the loudest environment they’ve ever experienced.
“It’s interesting because you get on a new staff [and] everybody’s done things differently. And so, I’ve actually kind of enjoyed hearing of the different ways that people have prepared for the noise,” Harsin said Monday. “We have a speaker system and all that. I don’t think that we’re going to get it exactly the way it’s going to be on game night, but we’ll crank the music up or the sound and the crowd noise, the music, whatever it is that we have to use to make it very loud.”
One of the big areas of focus for Auburn as far as the crowd noise will come on the offensive line, where communication and understanding everyone’s responsibilities will be crucial.
Auburn center Nick Brahms explained he’s got experience in similar atmospheres thanks to games at Alabama and Georgia, and though he’s never experienced the environment at Penn State — which boasts the second-largest capacity stadium in the country —- he believes the past experience will help.
Brahms said the non-verbal cues the linemen use with each other along with the quarterback and running back have not really changed since Auburn’s new staff took over, and through two games he’s been happy with how the players have communicated.
The senior added the linemen can improve those non-verbal techniques with the quarterback and running back in the days leading up to Saturday.
While Brahms understands there will be plenty to prepare for outside of a hostile crowd — namely Penn State’s dangerous defensive front — he didn’t downplay its importance in Auburn’s chances.
“We can’t let the external environment control what we do on offense, especially. We know it’s going to be loud,” Brahms said. “We’re going to prepare for it, and we’re going to be ready. We’re planning to succeed. Really, like we talked before, it all comes down to communication. I think that’s going to be a big key for this game.”
The limited-capacity crowds in 2020 meant some of Auburn’s playmakers like running back Tank Bigsby still haven’t played in front of the types of crowds that are typical in stadiums like Penn State’s.
Even with that limited experience, Bigsby didn’t sound flustered by the challenge.
Bigsby said some players get energy even from a road crowd, and he added several of the Tigers’ older players have shared their opinions on the best way to deal with the noise. He showed little concern about the complications the noise could present and instead welcomed the chance to show out in spite of it.
“I’m very excited for it. I’ve never played in a stadium where a lot of people like that. I’m ready for it,” Bigsby said. “I feel like it’s going to bring a lot of energy to our team, being in that stadium. It’s going to be a good atmosphere, and we’re prepared and we’re ready to go out there.”
The Tigers understand Penn State’s fans will try to make life tough on the road team in order to give the Nittany Lions an upper hand Saturday.
As far as Harsin is concerned, that atmosphere is something he thinks all his players should welcome.
“Be a guy that embraces that. Enjoy the opportunity to play in somebody else’s house and to go in there and play good football,” Harsin said. “To me, it’s more really about the mindset that you take into the week and what you have as you look forward to playing on the road somewhere else.”