Auburn football has a renewed competition at the most important position, quarterback, following a one-sided 27-10 Week 4 loss at the hands of Texas A&M on September 23 and ahead of Week 5’s Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry game against Georgia. As AL.com’s Matt Cohen put it, Payton Thorne’s benching against the Aggies means there’s no longer a definitive QB1 on the Plains.
“Benching the starting quarterback in a job he never secured further opens the chance for a renewed quarterback battle that never seemed to end in the first place, based on Freeze’s comments in press conferences,” Cohen wrote.
And that’s catastrophic in every way possible.
Auburn football having three quarterback options means they’re not close to finding the one
Tiger fans who were laughing at Alabama’s unfortunate quarterback situation ahead of the Crimson Tide’s breakthrough Week 4 win over Ole Miss now stare at a far more uncertain scenario under center than what Nick Saban and Tommy Rees have with Jalen Milroe. Against FBS teams this season, Thorne hasn’t come close to Milroe’s 225-yard passing performance against the Rebels.
Ashford reached and cleared those numbers in several games during the 2022 season, though, and that he’s not definitively the starter this year shows a disconnect between the Bryan Harsin transfer recruit from January 2022 and new head coach Hugh Freeze and his first-year offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery.
With No. 9 and QB3 Holden Geriner, who has attempted 12 passes in his collegiate career, both struggling against Texas A&M, there’s nothing close to an answer under center for Auburn. There’s no reason why some Jordan-Hare voodoo against No. 1 Georgia can’t help AU find the answer, but having to rely on the supernatural is certainly not a winning recipe over the long haul.
Sure, Freeze tempered expectations of winning ahead of September 23’s letdown at Kyle Field, but with the SEC adding two powerhouses like Texas and Oklahoma in 2024, and the constant necessity to continue to recruit your own commits, there needs to be stability on the Plains for this program to be back at the top of the conference, and thus, the country, in the future.
There’s currently none at QB. And Auburn is in a dangerous spot because of it.