Auburn still trying to resolve quarterback issues as it hosts Samford

Robby Ashford

Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford looks for a receiver during the second half of the team’s NCAA college football game against California on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

As Auburn prepares to host Samford, it’s a chance for the Tigers to get their offensive issues, especially at quarterback, resolved before Southeastern Conference play starts.

Payton Thorne has started the first two games, but Robby Ashford has gotten significant playing time too. Neither was effective for most of the Tigers’ 14-10 win at California. Coach Hugh Freeze has admitted that “we’ve got to figure it out,” but still wants Ashford getting his chances with the ball. Auburn had four turnovers and gained just 230 yards against Cal. Defending Southern Conference champion Samford just lost its league opener to Western Carolina, 30-7, in a game that included a six-hour lightning delay.

KEY MATCHUP

Auburn’s passing game versus Samford’s defense. Neither Thorne nor Ashford has been a consistent passer this season. In fact, Auburn didn’t attempt a pass in the third quarter against Cal. Thorne has passed for 235 yards while Ashford has been used more as a runner and is 3 of 9 for 3 yards in two games. Samford gave up 546 total yards against Western Carolina.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Auburn: RB Jarquez Hunter was the team’s most heralded playmaker coming into the season. Hunter didn’t play in the opener but rushed for 53 yards in Game 2. The Tigers have a pretty deep backfield but still need him to get going.

FACTS & FIGURES

Auburn has 19 shutouts in the series. Twenty of the meetings came from 1903-33, and the teams didn’t face each other from 1945 until 1992. The only time Samford, then known as Howard, didn’t lose was a 9-9 tie in 1927. … The 10 points allowed by the Auburn defense at California matched the fewest the Tigers have given up to a Power 5 opponent since defeating Arkansas 34-3 in 2018. … Samford is 2-80-3 against SEC teams, beating Mississippi State in 1909 (6-0) and Mississippi in 1934 (7-6).

Samford (1-1) at Auburn (2-0), Saturday, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN+/SEC Network+)

Series record: Auburn leads 28-0-1.

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