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Auburn Quarterback Robby Ashford (#9) during the Game between the Auburn Tigers and the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Al on Saturday, Apr 8, 2023.
Jamie Holt/Auburn Tigers
Auburn Quarterback Robby Ashford (#9) during the Game between the Auburn Tigers and the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Al on Saturday, Apr 8, 2023. Jamie Holt/Auburn Tigers

Auburn offense impresses at A-Day, quarterback decision still a long way away

AUBURN, Ala – Auburn football took to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time this year. The new year does not only mean the start of a new football season for Auburn but much more, as Hugh Freeze looks to turn a page and bring the program back to its former glory. 

Freeze’s first A-Day on The Plains did not go as planned. While the 24-point lead for the defense remained unchanged, inclement weather forced the initial plan of playing with a 60-minute running clock and no quarters to be abandoned. 

The change was made to play four 10-minute quarters while maintaining the running clock, however, once again, that plan was alerted, as the team ultimately played three quarters before the weather forced a premature end to the day. 

Even with the many changes, the offense continued to produce, allowing Alex McPherson to drill a 33-yard field goal to tie the game at 24 apiece as time expired. 

Despite the early ending, Freeze expressed his gratitude to those in attendance. 

“Thanks to our fans, the band and everyone that weathered the conditions to come out and support our players today,” Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze said. “I appreciate that very much.”

The weather would not only alter the game format, but it also influenced the offensive game plan.

“We were really wanting to throw that ball around,” Freeze said. “It would have been really ugly and probably a lot of three-and-outs had we tried to do that."

When it came to the quarterback room in the game, it seemed to be a two-man race between Robby Ashford and Holden Geriner. 

Ashford, who ran the first-string offense, did impress in the run game. Whether it was a run-pass option or scramble, the shifty quarterback finished with 38 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Despite only completing one pass on the day, an impressive 39-yard toss to Ja’Varrius Johnson that would lead to a field goal, the offense seemed to come together and click on multiple levels with Ashford at the helm.  

“I just go out there and try to treat everything like a national championship, but I am going to go out there and I am going to have fun every time,” Ashford said. “That was just another one of the days I got to be out there just having fun.” 

Geriner was able to build momentum with the third-string group. The redshirt freshman completed a 19-yard pass to Landen King, which set up a rushing touchdown from Justin Jones. 

While Ashford and Geriner were making plays, it was a much different story for Finley. The quarterback finished the day with one completion and three rushes for 13 yards. Often times it seemed like the offense possessed a confused manner while Finley was out there. 

Despite the poor play, Finley did not shy away from what needs improvement and highlighted that consistency will be a big part in deciding who leads the team out in the opening game later this year. 

“Just being consistent,” Finley said. “Whether it is being a leader or just sitting back and following while other guys on the team lead, I think that will separate who the quarterback one is going to be.”

Freeze was pleased with the work of the quarterbacks today and thinks there is a possibility to have success, but the decision on who will start remains a question to be answered. 

“There is so much that needs to happen for somebody to solidify being the guy,” Freeze said. “I think all have improved and I think all are still inconsistent with some things."

Although Freeze believes that the current quarterbacks on the roster are able to win games, the door will not be shut on adding another player to the position if it is beneficial. 

“I think the transfer portal opens soon, and we are open to any position that would help us improve our team as long as they fit within the culture. And that includes the quarterback room, “Freeze said. “Should a guy that comes available that is a dynamic guy that we think is already a proven commodity at doing that, you know, I think we would have to at least look at that.”

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