ATLANTA — On New Year’s Eve, Scott Frost and Gus Malzahn sat side by side to preview their respective UCF and Auburn teams. The two are set to meet in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
During the nearly 35-minute press conference, Frost and Malzahn addressed everything from their injury lists to what they expect to see from the other team. There were jokes — like Frost’s “It’s better to have fast guys than slow guys” comment — that helped cut through any possible tension between the two coaches.
Malzahn has been more than complimentary of Frost through the Peach Bowl experience, saying he has nothing but respect for Frost and his staff. On Sunday, he touched more specifically on what he’s seen from UCF as a team and what Auburn has to be ready for.
“Well, you can turn the film on, and it doesn’t take you long,” Malzahn said. “You can see they are a very good team. Offensively, very impressed. A great scheme. It really matches their personnel. They have a lot of speed on offense. Defensively, they play extremely hard. They have got some impact players. They are a very good football team, so that’s what happens.
“I mean, you don’t get to a bowl like this unless you’re really good, and probably one of the things that really stands out to me about them, too, is they won some close games. They find ways to win close games, and you know, that’s a trait of a very good football team.”
Beyond Malzahn’s feelings about UCF as a whole, he also has a significant amount of respect for Frost. Over the last month of bowl preparation, Frost balanced Peach Bowl practices with UCF and recruiting and other duties for his new job as coach at Nebraska. It wasn’t an easy task as he flew back and forth from Orlando to Lincoln to make it all work.
In fact, Frost was even noted to have thrown up before one of UCF’s Peach Bowl practices from the grueling schedule. He didn’t slow down, though. He just kept going.
“It’s certainly not ideal to be wearing two hats and to be flying back and forth to two places, and those things are hard,” Frost said. “But the right thing to do was to be here and try to help these kids as much as we could, and hopefully us being here helps a little bit.”
For Malzahn, Frost’s dedication to UCF over the last month speaks volumes. In fact, he hopes Frost becomes an example for other coaches in similar situations going forward.
“Got a lot of respect for their players, their coaches, and Coach Frost,” Malzahn said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him from the standpoint that, you know, he’s taken another job, but he chose to do the right thing, and he chose to be there for his team.
“And I think that’s a great example for coaches in the future. You see college football changing and all the jobs changing and all that, but very impressed with him.”