By Harrison Tarr
For the Observer
The Auburn football program wrapped up its second season of spring practice under head coach Bryan Harsin when the Tigers competed in their annual A-Day spring scrimmage at Jordan-Hare stadium which featured just 19 combined points and — per usual — a quarterback battle at center stage.
According to Harsin, the spring finale was a prime example of the centerpiece of the practice period: competition and leadership.
“That’s really been the theme of spring,” Harsin said. “It’s just been competition; We talked about leadership. We talked about chemistry, all those things like that, just competing.”
Although the head coach was pleased to see his squad committed to competing with one another, he has since shifted his attention to development and replicating the new skills acquired throughout the spring.
“Now, moving forward, it’s going to be about execution and making sure that what we learned from spring and what we’re doing moving forward is for us to execute when it’s time for us to go out there and play and actually win a football game,” Harsin said.
With three serious contenders — TJ Finley, Robby Ashford and Zach Calzada — the quarterback room’s ability to retain and build upon the foundation established this spring will likely be evaluated with a fine-tooth comb. Harsin was pleased with the pair who were able to compete in the annual scrimmage.
“Competition was good,” Harsin said. “QBs led some good drives; Opening drives, 13 plays, 80 yards. (Ashford) followed that up with a nice drive; we just had some penalties that hurt us in that one.”
Although unlikely to win the starting job in 2022, the fourth member of the Auburn quarterback staff — true freshman Holden Geriner — was given the keys to the offense late in the contest, turning heads by mounting what could have been a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
“It was fun to have the opportunity to end that way. It kind of ties into the theme of what spring ball has been, which is competitive,” Harsin said. “So, a two-point conversion and that last drive Holden (Geriner) was able to make a throw and Landen (King) was able to make the catch there to give their team a chance to win the game.”
Geriner completed his spring outing 9-11 for 71 yards and a touchdown.
“I think the thing now for our players, just so you guys know what’s happening moving forward, the next two weeks there are evaluations with the coaches,” Harsin said. “This next week, there are evaluations with me. Then, these guys have finals. They need to finish up really strong academically.”
Although the quarterback competition was certainly the center of attention for fans and coaches alike, the importance of developing the rest of the Tiger offense was certainly a point of emphasis.
Junior running back Tank Bigsby was the standout performer for Auburn both on and off the field; his focus appears to have adapted from not only his performance on the field but also his presence in the locker room.
“Today was really a situational day and we handled our business,” Bigsby said. “Our guys are working and competing, they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I hold myself accountable to be a leader of this team trying to get the guys in the direction we need to be in. I work hard and as a team we’ve come a long way already.”
Bigsby reminded the orange and blue faithful why coaches around the conference have to tailor their defensive gameplans to defending him on a weekly basis, posting 28 yards on three receptions. Following the conclusion of spring ball, Auburn football fans are forced to wait another five months to see their beloved Tigers back in action and — as of right now — the group likely has more questions than it has answers; Harsin’s squad will be back in action on Sept. 3 when the Tigers play host to Mercer.