Auburn Football began the season with an identity issue at quarterback. It was a crisis that head coach Bryan Harsin had hoped would be resolved by week three’s crucial home game against Penn State.
As Auburn enters week four against Missouri for the SEC opener, the quarterback issue has shown zero signs of settling.
Both T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford had their best game passing the football in Saturday’s loss to Penn State, as both players attempted 19 passes and threw for over 140 yards each. However, both players threw an interception, so there was not a clear contender left standing once the dust settled.
When neither quarterback takes a commanding lead, how hard is that to assess? Head coach Bryan Harsin told the media Wednesday that scouting overall performance is not as complex as one would think, but it is the big picture that can provide a challenge.
“It doesn’t make it difficult to assess. The situation is difficult, but you watch the plays, watch how they execute them, watch the operation. You can evaluate that,” Harsin said during his weekly press conference on Monday. “Sometimes you get into the last final few minutes of the game, and you try to do some things that may be crazy to try and get back into it and that’s hard.”
Looking at the depth chart that Auburn provided on Monday, Finley is listed as the clear-cut starter over Ashford. However, the ensuing week of practice will tell the ultimate story of who gets the most snaps on Saturday.
“Like I said, we’ll let guys compete this week,” Harsin said. “We haven’t decided yet what we’re going to do. Through the week of practice, it will be decided. But we’ll let guys compete, and we’ll put the best guys out there on Saturday to go play.”
There is one name, however, that has gotten lost in the shuffle, and that is Zach Calzada. Calzada, who transferred to Auburn in the offseason from Texas A&M, was expected to take over the role of starting quarterback earlier this offseason. Through three games, he has yet to take a snap.
Could this be the week that Calzada plays a role in the quarterback battle? Harsin says that Calzada will keep competing this week, just like Finley and Ashford.
“(Calzada) is competing like everybody else,” Harsin said. “Every single week those guys get opportunities, and we try to play the best players. Again, that’s what happens from Sunday through Friday.”
Harsin says that in addition to each quarterback competing for the job this week, all three candidates will be healthy for Auburn’s game with Missouri at Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday.