April 20, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — If Gus Malzahn didn't name a starting quarterback after A-Day when Cam Newton played, well…
The Auburn head coach didn't in 2010, and he didn't after Saturday's game in 2013, either. No one expected him to do it, and he probably won't name one after the Tigers wrap up spring practice Wednesday, either.
Yes, Wednesday. But that's only after Tuesday's practice.
There's still work to be done, though Auburn put on a show Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium in front of a school spring record of 83,401. Quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace played a part in the six offensive touchdowns in the Orange's 35-14 victory, whether directly (Wallace threw for two touchdowns while Frazier threw for one and ran for one) or by leading the offense in for the other scores.
And there were intangibles, like the crowd.
"Nobody expected that many people to be there," Frazier said. "The stadium was almost full, and especially after the season we had last year, it was definitely encouraging. Just to see the fans' confidence in us that we're going to bounce back and have a good team, that gives us confidence."
Did the game decide anything for the quarterbacks? Maybe not. Malzahn, then the offensive coordinator, and then-head coach Gene Chizik waited 11 days after spring practice to say Newton would be the No. 1 quarterback heading into the Summer of '10. He would go on to win the Heisman Trophy. The wait may be longer to name a starter in '13.
"At all positions, we're going to play the best people, whether that's quarterback or kicker or center," Malzahn said. "Until you get about three weeks into fall camp, you don’t have any positions completely solidified. The verdict is still out."
Malzahn said "there were a couple of good things" the quarterbacks did. And, "there were a couple things, just standing behind them, I was kind of whispering to them a little bit. It was great to evaluate the guys."
Three more quarterbacks will join the competition in the fall.
Here are the cold, hard stats from Saturday:
•Wallace was 18-of-26 passing for 191 yards with two touchdown passes and an interception.
•Frazier was 10-of-16 pasing for 125 yards with a touchdown pass and touchdown run.
•(For the record, Newton passing was 3-of-8 for 80 yards in his spring game.)
What you couldn't see on the stat sheet is this:
"One thing that we've really stressed this spring is body language," Wallace said. "That's something my coaches have stressed to us as quarterbacks. Everybody is going to look to us. Whatever we're giving our guys, that's how they're going to respond. It's just a matter of being positive around the guys."
Auburn scored seven times, six on offense, in the first half when it was serious. They didn't stop the clock in a scoreless second half when the backups mostly played.
"I think I did pretty good. I've still got a lot of work. I've got to correct a lot of things," Wallace said.
Frazier gave his performance a similar review.
"I feel like we got better," he said. "I felt like I did all right. I got most of the procedure down. I was pretty comfortable. Overall, as a team, I thought we did really well."
But Frazier knows Malzahn.
"We probably need to speed up a little bit. Coach Malzahn is never happy with the pace," Frazier said.
Follow Auburn on Twitter: