What is Auburn really looking for in a starting quarterback?
There are a lot of moving parts for the Tigers at the most important position on the field — but it's clear what the staff wants at QB1.
During the midst of preseason practices, Hugh Freeze was asked about his quarterback battle and if there was any separation among the three guys currently vying for the starting job.
“I’ve seen some really good things and some inconsistent things, which is kinda what I expected,” Freeze said. “… If you put on film of a certain day in a certain drill, you feel better about one than the others. And then, (in) the next drills, it’s a different guy you feel good about.”
Freeze could have said that quote at basically any point in Auburn’s recent spring session, and it would have made sense. The message of inconsistent highs and lows for Robby Ashford, T.J. Finley and Holden Geriner was a recurring theme throughout the Tigers’ 15 practices.
However, Freeze actually said that above quote eight years ago — when he was dealing with a quarterback battle between Ryan Buchanan, Devante Kincade and Chad Kelly at Ole Miss.
Freeze hasn’t had a quarterback battle like the one he’s got at Auburn right now since that 2015 competition at Ole Miss.
And that battle stretched well into the fall, as a starter wasn’t named until late August and all three quarterbacks appeared in the first two games of the season.
Auburn is heading toward a similar path, as spring ball came and went without anyone taking total control of the starting quarterback job.
That’s to be expected, though, as the quarterbacks spent the spring getting adjusted to a new offense and a new staff — and there’s a clear-cut chance for the Tigers to add another one to the battle via the transfer portal window that opened the week after the A-Day Game.
“The transfer portal opens soon, and we are open to any position that'll help us improve our team, as long as they fit within the culture,” Freeze said after the A-Day Game on April 8. “That includes the quarterback room. I know people make a big deal out of that, but the bottom line is… I think competition is helpful for those that handle it right. And for those that don't, they're probably not going to be the winners for you anyway.
“And so, we're open. Do I think we can win some games with what we have? Yes. I do. But, you know, I don't want to ever be put in a box where I say something and I do the opposite. I don't know the answer. I don't know if we are. I know that I would be open to it.”
Then Freeze was asked another question about the position: What do you need from a starting quarterback in the SEC?
“I think you've got to have somebody that can make the throws in tight coverage,” Freeze said. “And you've got to have receivers that can get open, too. We're looking for some of that consistency in both spots. They're going to be some games you just can't (pass). They're going to stop the run. and you're going to have to make some throws to win the game. We're not proven in the room that we have that any of those who have done that.
“I'm not saying they can't, and I'm certainly not down on them. I think we can win games with these guys. But should a guy come available that is a dynamic guy that we think is already a proven commodity doing that, I think we would have to at least look at that.”
And so, it sounds like Auburn is open for business at quarterback. But the Tigers can’t just make up a player in the portal.