The Auburn Tigers are set to start the 2023 Spring practice on February 27th which will conclude with the annual A-Day Game on April 8th. Plenty of questions must be addressed when the Tigers hit the practice field under new head coach Hugh Freeze. One of those will be the quarterback position. Despite a few attempts, Auburn was unable to land a quarterback from the transfer portal. That means they will have to roll with some returning signal callers from last season’s 5-7 squad. Today we begin the Auburn Spring preview with the quarterbacks.
Auburn Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
Philip Montgomery, Offensive Coordinator
Auburn had the worst passing offense in the SEC in 2022 finishing last in yards per game (172.7), touchdowns (9), and completion percentage (51.6%). Freeze and offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery will look to turn that around beginning with spring practice. Montgomery spent the last eight seasons as the head coach of the University of Tulsa. He also had stints at Baylor and Houston as offensive coordinator where he helped develop Bryce Petty, Robert Griffin III, and Case Keenum to name a few. When Auburn hired Freeze, they expect him and his staff to improve that part of the offense.
The Spring preview starts with the Auburn quarterback who started the most games in 2022. It is a big Spring for last season’s starting quarterback Robby Ashford. This will be the time to show he has made improvements as a passer, and impress head coach Hugh Freeze. The overall passing numbers were not great for Ashford in 2022. He completed just 49% of his passes for 1,613 yards and nine touchdowns. Though he did show some promise during the season, he was dealing with multiple injuries to close out the season. Ashford was second on the team with 710 yards on the ground, reaching the endzone seven times. With his athletic ability, it is easy to make comparisons to Malik Willis. The former Liberty quarterback developed into an NFL prospect under the tutelage of Freeze with the same skillset.
The casual fan may have forgotten that T.J. Finley is still an Auburn quarterback. Finley has spent two seasons with the Tigers after playing for LSU in 2020. He was the starter to open the 2022 season but lost the job to Ashford due to injury and lack of production. His inability to show mobility behind a bad offensive line did not help his case. Finley also had issues with turnovers in those first three games with four interceptions. What he does bring as a positive is his playing experience in the SEC. Overall in his career, he has thrown for 12 touchdowns and 2,199 yards with a completion percentage of 57%. His big frame of 6-7 and 246 pounds could be of great use in short-yard situations. This Auburn Spring could be the final chance for Finley.
While Ashford brings athleticism and Finley has the experience, Holden Geriner is the most gifted passer of the Auburn quarterbacks. The former four-star recruit from the state of Georgia has the ability to make most throws. He just has little experience compared to the two previously mentioned. Geriner only saw action against Missouri going two for three for eight yards while filling in for an injured Ashford. He passed for 3,377 yards and 36 touchdowns in high school to lead his team to a state championship. He is not a quarterback that will impress with his great running ability and is a true traditional pocket passer. Freeze has had signal callers of that skillset while at Ole Miss with Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly. It would not be a surprise if Geriner was able to push Ashford during the Auburn Spring.