AUBURN — After the first A-Day of the Hugh Freeze era, everyone gets steaks in the 24-24 tie between the offensive and defensive units.

Under the new rules, the Auburn defense began with a 24-0 lead, and the offense had four 10-minute quarters to complete a comeback. The game only went three quarters, due in part to inclement weather, but with only seconds left on the clock, kicker Alex McPherson secured the tie, and the teams headed to the locker rooms to celebrate. 

“I told them it's our first trip into Jordan-Hare and both sides are undefeated. I like the way it ended. I did give the option to the coordinators,” Freeze said. “They said, 'Let's leave it a tie,' so I'm happy with the way it ended. It really is good seeing them kick that thing through under those conditions.”

McPherson had some big shoes to fill at the placekicker position as the first non-Carlson brother to handle place-kicking duties since 2013. His day started rough as the conditions set it and he missed a 48-yard field goal on the offense’s second possession, but he bounced back with two kicks from 30+, including the one that secured the tie. 

However, not everyone agreed with the tie. 

“I think they should’ve let the offense try to get the touchdown,” said junior running back Jarquez Hunter. “I don’t like ties. I like to win.”

With Tank Bigsby heading to the NFL, Hunter is now the top guy on the roster and leading a room that features a lot of new faces and experienced a lot of success on A-Day.

Auburn’s rushing attack dominated with 280 total yards on the ground, 229 of which came from the running backs. Hunter finished the game with four carries and 27 yards, but four backs had five carries or more and the unit was led by Sean Jackson with 77 yards on 13 carries. 

“You can put anybody in, we can like do the job and get the job done. It was just great to see everybody just go out there and compete,” Hunter said of the running back room which will add Jeremiah Cobb before the fall. 

The Auburn offense ran 63 plays during A-Day, and 51 of those were running plays. With the weather playing a factor, Auburn threw the ball just 12 times, with Holden Geriner leading the way with three completions on five attempts. 

“We got through it without anybody getting injured, which is always a plus,” Freeze said. “We really wanted to throw that ball around and it would've been really ugly and probably a lot of three-and-outs had we tried to do that.”

Robby Ashford had the throw of the day with a 39-yard completion to Tar’Varish Dawson, Jr. It was Ashford’s only completion of the day in three attempts. He also ran for 38 yards on six carries and scored the first touchdown of the game on the ground. Ashford ended his first season on the Plains as the starting quarterback and has been trying to build off of that going into 2023.

“I feel like every single day, I found something to get better at. And coach Freeze definitely challenged me. And I appreciate that. Because he's taught me so much already in such a short time,” Ashford said. “I just can't wait to just see where this goes and just continue to compete and just continue to get better every single day with the best coaches in the country.”

With the transfer portal opening soon, and members of the 2023 class preparing to join the roster, there are still a lot of ways this team could evolve between now and the fall. Hugh Freeze even indicated that the transfer portal could affect the Tigers in a few ways. 

“I think the transfer portal opens soon, and we are open to any position that would help us improve our team as long as they fit within the culture. And that includes the quarterback room,” Freeze said. “I think competition is helpful and those that handle it right. And those that don't, they're probably not going to be the winners for you anyway.”

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