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some separation for QBs after first scrimmage


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AUBURN, Alabama — Naturally, Bryan Harsin won’t divulge the details just yet. But after Scrimmage 1 of fall camp — and entering a key week of evaluations at all position groups — there’s movement in his three-man quarterback competition.

The Tigers scrimmaged inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night, and quarterback contenders T.J. Finley, Zach Calzada and Robby Ashford all got their chances to run the first-team offense — just as they had through the first seven days of preseason practices on the Plains.

At the controls for what was mostly situational work, Harsin told reporters late Saturday night, the QBs “all did some really good things,” to put it simply.

Finley led a 14-play drive down the field, “executed well when he needed to in some critical moments," and threw a touchdown to freshman receiver Camden Brown. Ashford displayed his signature elusiveness and, as has been mentioned by his coaches and teammates this preseason, showed a stronger understanding of the offense in how he “operated the huddle.” Calzada’s passing throughout the evening was “solid,” and he had a touchdown pass of undisclosed length to tight end John Samuel Shenker.

“There’s some,” Harsin said when asked if he’s seen separation among the three quarterbacks yet. “... We’ve got to start making some decisions. We’ve got to start figuring out who’s going to get a little bit more reps.”

The second scrimmage next Friday will be even more important for the position battle’s rationing of first-team work, and it’s possible the competition could be whittled down by a member this time next week.

Saturday, though, provided Auburn’s coaching staff with valuable tape and increased sample sizes to add to what they saw through the team’s first seven practices. Coaches will study the film on Sunday, then devise a plan for Week 3 of camp before players return to the practice field Tuesday.

 

And for Harsin, his assessment of the quarterback race goes beyond their numbers in the passing game. It’s also about how they orchestrate it.

“I watch the whole thing,” Harsin said. “The sideline, all the field, how we operate in between plays, the sense of urgency, how fast we call the plays, how fast we get to the ball, how we check things, how we get our offense into the right situations, all of those things come into play. It’s not just, ‘Hey that guy throws the ball the best every time.’ You want that, but how’s he operating? What’s he doing? What’s he doing in the run game and can he help us with his feet? Can he do some things in the pass game? There are a lot more factors. And then you’re watching how accurate they are. You’re watching the decision-making process. That’s what I was looking at tonight.

“What I told those guys tonight is that I want to see them lead. That’s what I wanted to see. From the sideline to on the field, that’s the number one thing for me, and Coach Kiesau can figure out the rest. I want to see these guys lead. I want to see them just operate our offense.”

Things were mostly smooth, though Harsin did mention a sequence where a quarterback broke the huddle, the running back lined up on the opposite side of the formation, and it wasn’t fixed before the ball was snapped, leading to a broken play. That’s an example of the attention to detail — or a lack thereof — Harsin wants to see in his starter.

“You've got to know it,” Harsin said. “You've got to know your system. … There's an example of leading your offense on the field — where you already know he's in the wrong spot before he's even getting there and you're telling them to go the other way. Those are things you want to see from your quarterback. They know what's going on. They know everybody's job. They know what everybody's doing. They know the alignment and the assignment of every single player around them.

“And you can tell that very quickly about a quarterback, because he's observing and he'll know right away that it's wrong. And you'll see them look right at them. And you'll know when a guy has no clue. They're lined up wrong, and they're just looking down and waiting for the snap, and everything's wrong. And that's the type of stuff you have to correct as a quarterback. You can't let that happen. You've got to know.”

With classes at the university starting Tuesday, players have the day off practice Monday.

“Monday will give us a chance, as coaches, to go back, look at and evaluate where we are, maybe move some guys around the depth chart, start pinpointing some more specific spots for them,” Harsin said. “That will include special teams, which is a key factor for us, as well, with the travel squad. And then dialing that in before that second scrimmage on Friday.

“And then after that, you've got to start getting it down to your two-deep, your scout teams, then getting onto Mercer and your first few games to prepare for that. That's where we are right now.”

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I wonder how this plays out. If Finley is the leading candidate and Ashford, not Calzada, is doing the second best, does Harsin pull reps from Calzada and give them to a deserving Ashford? Or does he force Calzada vs Finley going forward, because Calzada is suppose to be the golden boy? 

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1 hour ago, AuCivilEng1 said:

I wonder how this plays out. If Finley is the leading candidate and Ashford, not Calzada, is doing the second best, does Harsin pull reps from Calzada and give them to a deserving Ashford? Or does he force Calzada vs Finley going forward, because Calzada is suppose to be the golden boy? 

This is a scenario no one wanted to entertain 6 months ago, but I am loving the premise of people having to entertain it 

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1 hour ago, AuCivilEng1 said:

I wonder how this plays out. If Finley is the leading candidate and Ashford, not Calzada, is doing the second best, does Harsin pull reps from Calzada and give them to a deserving Ashford? Or does he force Calzada vs Finley going forward, because Calzada is suppose to be the golden boy? 

I think Ashford may not fit the scheme the best, but I think he gives us the best chance to win. And the best chance at a dynamic offense. Just my thought….

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7 minutes ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

This is a scenario no one wanted to entertain 6 months ago, but I am loving the premise of people having to entertain it 

The way that situation would be handled would tell us sooo much about Harsin and who he really is. Does that best guy get to play, or not? Off-season drama!

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4 minutes ago, AUwartigerAU said:

I think Ashford may not fit the scheme the best, but I think he gives us the best chance to win. And the best chance at a dynamic offense. Just my thought….

If he does give us the best chance to win, according to Harsin, he will play. I for one wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the best of the 3. I’ve seen the other two play, and neither is exactly a head turner.

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4 minutes ago, AuCivilEng1 said:

The way that situation would be handled would tell us sooo much about Harsin and who he really is. Does that best guy get to play, or not? Off-season drama!

With as much emphasis has been placed on competition, I don't see him playing anyone that isn't the best.

Results > Feelings

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7 minutes ago, bigbird said:

With as much emphasis has been placed on competition, I don't see him playing anyone that isn't the best.

Results > Feelings

Man I hope so.

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Cal should be behind and rusty since, because of the surgery, he hasn't had meaningful reps in this calendar year until what 7 days ago. And, he is learning an entirely new offense.   When you are mentally unsure and thinking too much, it can impact mechanics   Robby looked good in the spring game, but that isn't a great test.  Better than throwing against air, but still.... Finley has started meaningful games at 2 really good programs and has been hot and cold at both (particularly when hurt) but as Bbird said JC didn't light it up until 2004.  Let's try to enjoy the ride.   One of these young men will start for our Tigers, and all of them will play.   We are still a good ways away from our first meaningful game.  Plenty of time for all of them to improve. 

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22 minutes ago, bigbird said:

With as much emphasis has been placed on competition, I don't see him playing anyone that isn't the best.

Results > Feelings

If he goes the feelings route, this will be his last season. 

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Exactly, the midwest coach going with the west coast Ashford would not surprise me.

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He will play the best one . Love the competition. I personally have a soft spot for ashford , but let the best man win 

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1 hour ago, LPTiger said:

Cal should be behind and rusty since, because of the surgery, he hasn't had meaningful reps in this calendar year until what 7 days ago. And, he is learning an entirely new offense.   When you are mentally unsure and thinking too much, it can impact mechanics   Robby looked good in the spring game, but that isn't a great test.  Better than throwing against air, but still.... Finley has started meaningful games at 2 really good programs and has been hot and cold at both (particularly when hurt) but as Bbird said JC didn't light it up until 2004.  Let's try to enjoy the ride.   One of these young men will start for our Tigers, and all of them will play.   We are still a good ways away from our first meaningful game.  Plenty of time for all of them to improve. 

I just hope Finley doesn’t get boo’d before taking a snap this season if he’s announced as the starter. The media will find any reason to crap on Auburn, and that would be easy fuel, not to mention a real downer for recruiting. But so many Auburn fans seem to be legitimately anti TJ.

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7 minutes ago, ScotsAU said:

I just hope Finley doesn’t get boo’d before taking a snap this season if he’s announced as the starter. The media will find any reason to crap on Auburn, and that would be easy fuel, not to mention a real downer for recruiting. But so many Auburn fans seem to be legitimately anti TJ.

The backup QB is often the most popular player among fans who don't see practices and don't get paid to win like coaches.  Folks who are anti TJ are not real Auburn fans and probably have other issues.

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24 minutes ago, ScotsAU said:

I just hope Finley doesn’t get boo’d before taking a snap this season if he’s announced as the starter. The media will find any reason to crap on Auburn, and that would be easy fuel, not to mention a real downer for recruiting. But so many Auburn fans seem to be legitimately anti TJ.

I personally respect the hell out of TJ. He’s a tough kid and seems like a really cool guy. But I can’t help but have flashbacks of Jeremy Johnson when I watch him back there, and it just kills it for me. Not to mention he was back there for our slide into hell last year, at the end of the season.

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3 hours ago, AuCivilEng1 said:

I wonder how this plays out. If Finley is the leading candidate and Ashford, not Calzada, is doing the second best, does Harsin pull reps from Calzada and give them to a deserving Ashford? Or does he force Calzada vs Finley going forward, because Calzada is suppose to be the golden boy? 

That’s a good question. I think Harsin gone give Calzada as many chances as he can to get the starting spot.
 

Also did Geriner even play in the scrimmage? I know you don’t wanna depend on a true freshman to save your job but what if he was performing the best, would Harsin actually name him the starter 🤔

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1 hour ago, Sizzle said:

That’s a good question. I think Harsin gone give Calzada as many chances as he can to get the starting spot.
 

Also did Geriner even play in the scrimmage? I know you don’t wanna depend on a true freshman to save your job but what if he was performing the best, would Harsin actually name him the starter 🤔

I think if everyone of his coaching staff agrees he would but I bet he would on board every one on his staff.

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3 hours ago, AUwartigerAU said:

I think Ashford may not fit the scheme the best, but I think he gives us the best chance to win. And the best chance at a dynamic offense. Just my thought….

I honestly don't think the scheme optimizes QB running enough to allow him to do that. if it's mirroring most of what we saw last season, Nix's legs were certainly not used INTENTIONALLY as much as you'd think for it being Bo Nix. Maybe because he had to run so much unintentionally 

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4 hours ago, Dual-Threat Rigby said:

This is a scenario no one wanted to entertain 6 months ago, but I am loving the premise of people having to entertain it 

One person said it......and people didn't even have to pay for it! 

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It just goes to show that this was a closer battle than most thought, the front runner wasn't as good as most hyped and the scapegoat wasn't as bad as projected. There were a bunch of variables in performances.......

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We don't know anything yet, whether the coaches do or not. 

I do trust Harsin to play the best QB. 

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6 hours ago, bigbird said:

With as much emphasis has been placed on competition, I don't see him playing anyone that isn't the best.

Results > Feelings

This would be a refreshing change

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5 hours ago, LPTiger said:

The backup QB is often the most popular player among fans who don't see practices and don't get paid to win like coaches.  Folks who are anti TJ are not real Auburn fans and probably have other issues.

Folks are anti TJ because they have seen him be a 2nd tier QB at 2 different schools now. 

If something clicks and it all comes together then he will show it and people will love him in the improved state. 

If it's the same ol TJ, we all know what we're getting and it isn't good. 

 

Just like the last few years when people decided to hate Bo the person and not Bo the QB, one can hope and pray TJ isn't our best option without any personal attacks. 

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