Jack Driscoll’s been there.
He’s seen The Swamp.
Auburn’s senior right tackle has stepped into the fabled jaws of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium once before. He remembers how it’s built, how that crowd sounds, and just what it’s like to step onto the field in one of college football’s most famous stadiums.
Soon enough, the rest of his teammates are going to find out for themselves.
No. 7 Auburn plays at No. 10 Florida on Saturday in Gainesville. Driscoll, member of the Tigers’ veteran offensive line, actually played there earlier in his career before he transferred to Auburn — and he’s the only player on Auburn’s roster that has.
Driscoll came to Auburn as a graduate transfer from UMass in time for the 2018 season, and before that, he actually made his first start with UMass in a game at Florida to open the 2016 season.
Auburn hasn’t played Florida since 2011 and hasn’t played at Florida since 2007.
“A few people asked if it’s loud and whatnot,” Driscoll said Tuesday as his Tigers got set for the trip. “And it’s a loud stadium because it’s kind of built vertically up — so it’s definitely going to be very loud.”
Auburn has been running certain drills with speakers blasting artificial noise in practice all season to prepare for road games like this one — even on weeks in which the team’s played at home.
It’s become a regular part of the routine for the Tigers and, during games like this one, in which the offense will have a hard time communicating verbally out on the field before each snap, Auburn hopes that preparation pays off.
That communication is especially key along the offensive line, where Driscoll plays.
“We all have to be on the same page,” he said. “Coach (Gus) Malzahn has done a good job of that at practice, shutting the doors and making it loud so we can simulate that and kind of get used to it before the game.”
He paints the picture of Auburn closing up the indoor facility and blasting noise throughout it to simulate what it’s like in front of thousands of screaming fans like there will be Saturday in The Swamp.
For the men who put that offense in motion with each snap, center Kaleb Kim and quarterback Bo Nix, that preparation is critical.
“In this environment, especially in the offense we like to play, which is quick, hurry-up, up-tempo, no-huddle and whatnot, sometimes we almost have to think like Kaleb and see how he’s ID’ing something, or see a call Bo might make — because it might be hard to hear,” Driscoll explained. “But if we’re not all on the same page, then the play won’t work.”
Auburn played its first true road game of the season at Texas A&M on Sept. 21. Outside of a neutral-site game against Oregon in Dallas to open the season, every other game has been a home game for Auburn so far this year.
“Once you get out there, it’s never really too, too bad,” Driscoll said. “There are some times where it can be a little hard to hear the clap, but Bo does a good job of making sure we can hear everything, and Kaleb does a good job communicating. So it hasn’t been too much of a factor.
“It obviously helped at Texas A&M, scoring early and taking the crowd out of it, so that will be something that could be huge in upcoming games, is to kind of try to take the crowd out of it. Because Saturday is going to be loud. We have to do what we can.”
The Tigers think they’re ready for it. For Driscoll, he knows The Swamp will look and sound a little bit different Saturday, on a big SEC gameday featuring a top-10 matchup as compared to the non-conference tune-up he played in there years ago — but he’s excited to make his return all the same.
“It’s definitely going to be a little bit of a different atmosphere than it was back then,” Driscoll said. “But you know, at the end of the day, football is football.
“So it’s going to be more of a primetime game and whatnot, and a little louder, but you know — I’ve just got to go play my game and do what I can do to help the team win.”