For most of the 2023 season, the Auburn football team ran a two-quarterback system that seemed to be a lot of trial and error. Between Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne and returning starter Robby Ashford, it was anyone’s guess as to which QB would take the field at any given time.
Though both quarterbacks have found some level of success in different games this season, the Tigers ended their four-game losing streak in a contest where Payton Thorne took control of the offense and hardly rotated with Robby Ashford at all.
Ahead of the Mississippi State matchup, head coach Hugh Freeze made the decision to give Thorne the keys. The QB went on to have one of his best performances of the season, to which he credited the consistency of the game plan and the ability to stay on the field. Allowing Thorne more playing time finally created some sort of rhythm for the offense.
This past weekend against Vanderbilt, Freeze again put Thorne in charge, and Ashford did not see game action. When addressing the local media Monday morning, Freeze said the following, per Auburn Undercover:
"“I believe Payton’s skill set is the most prepared for what we’re doing. It’s not a negative toward anyone else.”"
Freeze noted that Thorne is “the most advanced at running the scheme and the gameplan Auburn wants to run” according to AL.com, but he did go on to say that redshirt freshman Holden Geriner had “a heck of a week” in last week’s practices.
Despite the early season success of the two-quarterback system and “Red Zone Robby” it is becoming increasingly clear that Auburn football has the best chance of winning with Payton Thorne under center and without the constant rotation of quarterbacks.
Thorne’s next big challenge will be this weekend’s road test against Arkansas, which will kick off at 3:00 p.m.