Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin works with quarterbacks at spring practice

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AUBURN — Bryan Harsin challenged one of his newcomers.

"Come on, man, find the laces!" he implored Robby Ashford after an errant throw. Ashford's next was a dart.

"You see what I'm saying?" Harsin said.

Dressed head to toe in fluorescent orange, the second-year Auburn football coach wasn't shy with his quarterbacks Monday. During a brief three-period media viewing window of Auburn's eighth spring practice, Harsin monitored and coached the four contenders in a number of drills that involved receivers, running backs and tight ends.

Who can make all the throws?

The Tigers are in no rush to narrow their four-quarterback competition, so repetition of fundamentals is crucial. Harsin has said the coaching staff is closely studying everything on film: "Their life is like a documentary."

During one drill Monday, quarterbacks took snaps under center, handed off to a running back then rolled out, receiving a lateral pitch and going straight into a throwing motion with the new ball.

It led to a number of incompletions, including the one where Harsin told Ashford to improve his grip on the ball. The Oregon transfer made a few of the best throws of the day, rivaling the returning three-game starter T.J. Finley. But Ashford's consistency needs work. He was off target on several comeback routes and deep patterns.

The group practiced wheel routes with tight ends and running backs; a few quick slants and seam routes to tight ends; and the always difficult deep-ball corner route to the field side. Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada, still limited by a shoulder injury, was sharp on his short throws. Ashford is ahead of freshman Holden Geriner in challenging Finley at this point.

Finley also had an inconsistent day but made one of the most impressive completions, a 25-yard beauty downfield to the wide side, hitting receiver Tar'Varish Dawson perfectly in stride.

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Landen King's role

In the 2021 Iron Bowl, tight end Landen King made one of the heroic plays of the season when his first career touchdown came in overtime. He was one of the only freshmen to earn such important reps. On Monday, King was briefly working with receivers. He could be a slot receiver option given the receiver room's lack of depth.

Eventually, King moved back to the tight end group Monday. He showed he has the speed and skill to play straight-up receiver, but he dropped three passes during the viewing window. That needs work.

Best-looking route runners

Dawson was at the end of that pretty ball from Finley thanks to his impressive acceleration. If the redshirt freshman is healthy, he's showing potential to be one of Auburn's best play makers.

Running back Tank Bigsby also looked solid catching passes out of the backfield. He earned "good route" compliments from offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau and other coaches after several flat routes and wheels. Even when he's not going up against defenders in practice, it's clear how much Bigsby's talent stands out.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin works with QBs at spring practice