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Running back Damari Alston on the sidelines following a rainy A-Day. Photo cred: Jake Lazarus/ EETV

A cold and wet A-Day had “some good things and some not-so-good things”

AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) -- Auburn held its annual A-Day football game this cold and rainy Saturday in Jordan Hare Stadium for the first time under new head coach, Hugh Freeze.

The rules were A-Day were a little different than in past years. The defense started up 24-0, and the offense’s goal was to score and win by taking the lead. The game would be timed using four 10-minute running clock quarters with no true halftime.

Coach Freeze made clear to fans attending the spring game that “unrealistic expectations lead to frustration.” He is taking over a program that has failed to win more than six games in each of the last three seasons, and is 5-11 in SEC play in the past two.

 “Man, I want to give them something to be (excited about): man, our kids are competing. They love to play the game; they’re doing it the right way,” said Coach Freeze. “They’re playing with passion. And they’re in some games because of that. But also, be realistic of where we’ve been and where we want to go, and how fast can that happen? I don’t know. But everybody’s got to look at that with wide-open eyes and see that this is who we are currently.”

Coach Freeze has made clear there will be some competition for who is atop the QB depth chart heading into the 2023 season. Robby Ashford, T.J. Finley, and redshirt freshman Holden Geriner are all fighting for the lead coming out of spring, but Freeze has already said the competition will likely continue into preseason camp.

Robby Ashford earned offensive MVP, rushing for 38 yards and a touchdown. Ashford made a 39-yard throw down the middle of the field to Tavarish Dawson for the offense’s longest play of the day.

“I feel better than I did 15 practices ago,” said Coach Freeze. “But there’s so much that needs to be done for someone to solidify themselves as the guy.” He said the offense wanted to throw the ball all scrimmage, but the rain and cold weather prevented it.

Running back Damari Alston impressed coach Freeze on Saturday, totaling 43 yards on five carries. “I didn’t give enough credit to [Alston] coming into this job, but he’s had one heck of a spring for us.”

Alex McPherson won special teams MVP, going two for three on field goal attempts, including a walk-off to tie the game at 24.

For good reason, Auburn fans have been excited about Coach Freeze’s recruiting ability, and it was again on display this weekend. He hosted a trio of uncommitted 5-star recruits, including KJ Bolden, Zayden Walker, and Caleb Cunningham. The coaching staff hosted dozens of players this weekend to bolster their 13th-ranked class of 2024.

The scrimmage ended in a 24-24 tie meaning both the defense and offense earned a steak dinner.

Auburn will continue spring practices and look to improve in-house and via the transfer portal before summer.