In his Monday press conference, Bryan Harsin set the record straight on the perceived quarterback controversy between T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford. According to Harsin, there is no controversy. 

“I think everybody feels like if you have two guys playing, there's some controversy or the one guy's not good enough. I just started to look at it like these guys are all football players," Harsin said. “They're here to play just like our tailbacks, just like our tight ends, just like our linebackers. And if they're good enough to play, then we should find a role for him.”

This is not an unprecedented approach for Harsin, who ran a two-quarterback system during the 2017 season at Boise State, a season in which the Broncos went 11-3 and won the Mountain West.

Harsin would turn to his quarterback room again in 2019, using three quarterbacks throughout the year, resulting in one of the best years of Harsin’s career as the team went 12-2 and undefeated in the Mountain West. 

“We had to play three in 2019 when I was in Boise. And the third guy ended up being undefeated [and] the MVP of the championship game,” Harsin said. 

The back-and-forth throughout the Mercer game was part of the offensive game plan, as well as getting Ashford the reps in the second half after the two interceptions from Finley. Finley finished the game with nine completions on 14 attempts for 100 yards and a touchdown but two interceptions.

As for Robby Ashford, he went 4-7 for 100 yards as well and 68 more yards on the ground. After the season-opening win on Saturday, Harsin reaffirmed that T.J. Finley was the starter, despite Ashford running the offense in the second half.

“I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Harsin said when asked about Ashford taking over for Finley in the second half. “We go back to work tomorrow, and we'll see what our game plan looks like later in the week. And then we'll start packaging things. So, when we get to the game, we know who's going to be out there.”

As for the prospect of the two-quarterback system, starting center Tate Johnson, who had his first career start on Saturday, said it did not make much difference to him.

“The two quarterback thing, it doesn't really affect my job too much,” Johnson advised. “It doesn't really make a huge difference to me, or really the rest of the offensive line. So it's not, it's not the craziest thing in the world to me.”

Johnson has stepped up for an injured Nick Brahms, who was forced to retire from football just before the season started. Johnson, who was a former four-star recruit, has sat behind Brahms for two years before taking over this season. 

Veteran receiver Shedrick Jackson, who caught Ashford's first completion as an Auburn Tiger, echoed Johnson’s sentiment about the two quarterbacks.

“I think they've got control of the offense. They know what they're doing. So I like working with both of them,” Jackson said.

As of now, the indication appears to be a mix of Finley and Ashford until one truly takes the reins, but the two-quarterback system has worked for Harsin and offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau before, and it may be what they turn to again. 

Auburn will be back in Jordan-Hare Stadium for game two of its five-game homestand next Saturday to take on San Jose State (1-0). Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CST.

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