One big question for each of Auburn's position groups heading into spring ball
The Tigers are less than a week away from spring practices. Here's what we'll be looking at the most for each spot on the roster.
EDGE Dylan Brooks (Auburn Athletics)
It might be hard to believe, but Auburn football is now less than a week away from the start of spring practices.
On the field, the new era will begin earlier than usual, as the Tigers are starting spring ball in late February instead of the traditional March dates.
But, don’t worry, the annual A-Day Game will still be the Saturday of Masters weekend. Some things never change.
Virtually everything else has changed for the Auburn football program, which ended the Bryan Harsin era before two full seasons and has now transitioned to Hugh Freeze at the helm.
Freeze and his new-look staff — only Cadillac Williams and Zac Etheridge were retained from the previous regime — have spent the majority of the last three months trying to play catchup in recruiting. And that means they’ve got a whole lot to learn about their roster over the next several weeks.
The roster has already gone through a big transition. The Tigers brought in a top-five transfer class that will add 12 FBS newcomers to the mix. There are also nine early enrollees, including a few of Auburn’s top-rated signees from a 2023 class that went from the basement of the SEC into a more respectable top-20 range in a short amount of time. More freshmen — and more transfers, potentially — will be on the way over the summer.
One could try to put together some sort of a projected depth chart ahead of spring practices, as is the custom at this time of year. But there’s so many new factors — players, coaches, schemes, even the practice facility — that there’s going to be a whole lot of learning for everybody during Auburn’s spring ball.
Instead of trying to come up with a depth chart that would most likely look obsolete from the very first practice, let’s take a position-by-position look at what we’ll be watching the closest this spring. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these questions will cover a lot of ground for a team that will begin the long on-field process of trying to rebuild from back-to-back losing seasons.
And let’s start with the most important position on the field and perhaps the biggest question of them all…
QB Robby Ashford (Auburn Athletics)
Quarterback: How much improvement will Robby Ashford make?
No disrespect to the returning T.J. Finley and redshirt freshman Holden Geriner, but the big focus on the quarterback position is squarely on Robby Ashford. The former Oregon transfer had some big plays — particularly on the ground — after taking over as QB1 last September, but he was arguably the least-efficient passer out of any regular starting quarterback in the FBS last season.
Ashford played through injury in 2022, and that definitely affected his ability to throw the football. However, Ashford would have to make a major leap in 2023 in order to get to “solid SEC starting quarterback” territory. And that work starts in spring practices under the watchful eye of Freeze and Philip Montgomery.
Auburn’s new offensive braintrust has done some good work developing quarterbacks over their respective tenures, so it’s not impossible to see Ashford look like a better and more confident quarterback in a system that fits his skill set. What happens in spring practices will determine how the Tigers will attack the second transfer window at quarterback, so this is going to be a major first impression for Ashford.
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