【AL】 Auburn’s uncertain quarterback situation has no impact ‘at all’ on Missouri – Alabama News

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Auburn’s quarterback quandary doesn’t appear to be of major concern to Eli Drinkwitz.

When asked Tuesday whether Auburn’s uncertain quarterback situation affects how his team is preparing for Saturday’s 11 a.m. matchup on the Plains, the third-year Missouri coach said it has no impact whatsoever on his team’s approach to their SEC opener.

“It’s not about who they put at the quarterback position,” Drinkwitz said Tuesday. “Every quarterback has some unique nuances, but for us it’s about, ‘do we stay on top of wide receivers when they get vertical releases on 9-balls? Or are we not and inviting those? Are we going to get penetration and disruption at the defensive line, which will cause them to be behind the chains? Or are we not, and let them stay ahead of the chains? Are we gap-sound? Do we know who our quarterback player is? Those things really don’t have anything to do with which guy’s taking the snap.”

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Drinkwitz reiterated multiple times Tuesday during his weekly press conference that this week’s matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium isn’t so much about what Auburn does or doesn’t do, but more so about Missouri’s internal improvement and how it handles the start of SEC play on the road in a tough environment.

As for Auburn, second-year coach Bryan Harsin was noncommittal Monday when asked about his starting quarterback for Saturday, saying that guys would compete throughout the week before coaches make a decision in the best interest of the team.

T.J. Finley has started all three games so far this season but, along with sustaining a shoulder injury in the first half against Penn State, was benched early in the third quarter of the team’s 41-12 loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Robby Ashford, who has rotated in through the first three weeks, took over the offense for the remainder of the game and led Auburn’s only touchdown drive of the afternoon in its most lopsided home loss in a decade.

Through three games, Auburn’s quarterback play has been underwhelming, to say the least. Questions the team faced about the position throughout the offseason have only been amplified during the last three weeks, as Auburn quarterbacks have completed 58.5 percent of their passes for 676 yards, two touchdowns, six interceptions and a lost fumble.

Finley, who won the starting job a week before the season opener, has completed 33-of-53 passes (62.3 percent) for 431 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions, as well as one rushing touchdown. He has committed multiple turnovers in two of Auburn’s three games, with a pair of interceptions in the opener against Mercer and then an interception and lost fumble in last weekend’s game against Penn State before being pulled in the third quarter.

Ashford, a transfer from Oregon who made his college debut in Week 1, has completed 15-of-29 passes for (51.7 percent) for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions while also rushing for 158 yards on 24 attempts. He has thrown an interception in back-to-back games.

Auburn’s other two quarterback options, Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada and true freshman Holden Geriner, have yet to see the field, though Harsin said Saturday that there was discussion about putting Calzada in during the second half against Penn State. Calzada started 10 games for the Aggies last season, including a win against Alabama. He completed 56.1 percent of his passes for 2,185 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year before transferring to Auburn, where he was limited throughout the spring due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder (which he sustained, incidentally, against Auburn last November).

“They’re going to have somebody that takes the snap from the center, and whether it’s any one of the talented quarterbacks they have — which, they have plenty of talented quarterbacks — or whether or not they line up Tank Bigsby back there in Wildcat formation, there’s going to be somebody back there that we have to be ready for,” Drinkwitz said. “That’s what we’re prepared for; we’re prepared for all of that, and it’s really not about them. It’s about us.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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