Robby Ashford will enter the 2023 season as Auburn’s backup quarterback, but Hugh Freeze wants him to be ready to play regularly.

Ashford started the final 9 games of the 2022 season for the Auburn Tigers. The results were mixed, with Ashford impressing with his feet, but putting up pedestrian numbers through the air.

Ashford finished the season with 1,613 passing yards, 7 passing touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. The young QB did contribute over 700 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns as well.

Freeze announced that Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne has won the QB job to start the 2023 season. Thorne was the Spartans’ starter for 2 seasons before transferring in the spring.

While Ashford has been relegated to backup duties, Freeze stated that the athletic QB will still see the field.

“Robby, he will always have a package,” Freeze told reporters Thursday. “If he handles all of this the right way, he will always have a package because he has an element to us that’s just a little different.”

Freeze clearly does not want Ashford to transfer. Instead, Freeze emphasized the importance of having multiple quality options.

“I believe with all my heart Robby Ashford gives us an absolute better chance to win the game if he accepts this news and continues to work and develops himself, because he might be the most freakish athlete I’ve ever had at quarterback,” said Freeze.

Thorne will be under center to open the season on September 2 against UMass.