A new era has officially begun for Auburn football under the supervision of head coach Hugh Freeze. So far, the head coach has made a great impression, going hard on the recruiting trail, getting involved in the community, and cleaning up in the transfer portal.
But whether or not Freeze finds success will come down to how the Tigers perform on the field this fall. He has worked hard to prepare the team, adding key talent from the transfer portal and filling in holes on the roster along the offensive line and in other positions.
The marquee transfer, of course, was former Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne. Although the Tigers 2022 starter, Robby Ashford, returned this year, there have been worries about his consistency, accuracy, and his lack of experience.
All the newcomers will have a big impact for Auburn football this fall, but according to On3’s JD PicKell, Thorne will either make or break the offense:
"“Did a lot through the portal. Have one of the top portal classes this cycle. Payton Thorne being a part of that portal class. But if Payton Thorne doesn’t bring his a-game, if he doesn’t allow the offense to operate because he’s not up to speed, or he’s making mistakes, he’s not consistent, whatever it ends up being, they will go as Payton Thorne goes,” added PicKell. “So all the excitement around Auburn, all the people taking over 6.5 wins for Auburn, you believe that because you believe in Payton Thorne."
PicKell referred to Thorne as the battery of the offense, noting that everything the Tigers are working towards will build off what Thorne can do under center. Though he will be under a lot of pressure as the Tigers try to correct and come back from the past two seasons, the experienced QB has the opportunity to bring the Tigers back to the level of competition that everyone expects.
A lot will be riding on the shoulders of Payton Thorne, but his talent and his experience as a starter at Michigan State should help him make a surprise contender out of Hugh Freeze’s first Auburn football team.