July 19, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says he has four legitimate candidates to become Auburn's starting quarterback, but with options comes this: How's he going to give all of them an equal chance to impress in the first few weeks of fall practice?
"I'm going to have to get creative on how I'm making sure they're all getting the right amount of reps to get all the information we need to make that decision. That's the one thing that will be somewhat challenging," Lashlee said Friday.
Practice begins Aug. 2, and that's when Lashlee will get a collective look at Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson for the first time. Frazier and Wallace practiced for Lashlee in spring ball. Johnson, the state's Mr. Football, arrived for the first summer semester. Marshall, the junior college transfer, arrived for the second.
"There's not a big difference coming in in late June and coming in the first session," Lashlee said. "I think if you get in in the summer and you have a couple of weeks, they're at least going to be exposed to the base things that we do. When they come into my meeting on Day 1, it's not like it's the first time they've ever heard it.
"I think the fact they've come in either summer session is big. If you didn't come in in either summer session, that's when you'd be at a real disadvantage. So the fact that all four guys have been here since about June 18, I think will bode well going into fall camp."
Lashlee says there is no "cutoff line" on choosing his starter.
"We have in our mind a date that we'd like to know by, or know pretty quick," he said. "As quick as we can make that decision, we're going to make it. When it becomes evident that this is the individual that needs to lead our football team, and gives us the best chance to win, I don't think you wait. I think you make that call."
That's because Lashlee wants his starter, and likely the primary backup, to get most of the snaps with the offensive players who will most likely play.
"I think a couple of weeks in are reasonable," Lashlee said. "But at the same time, you wait until the week of the first game. If you have to, you'll do that. I think the most important thing is to get it right."
Lashlee said all four quarterbacks are similar enough that the offensive game plan won't change much no matter who is chosen. But their running ability will only be tested so far in fall practice.
No tackling or injuries, please.
"We tried that before and a couple of guys went down," Lashlee said. "The first year we were here we got Barrett Trotter and Neil Caudle, in back-to-back plays I think. We didn't do it with Cam. We weren't completely sure how great he was going to be with his feet, but we had a pretty good idea that no one really wanted to tackle him.
"the good thing is that they're all mobile to certain degrees, so when we're installing we know there's a good chance, no matter who wins the job, that's going to be a big part of our offense as opposed to a guy who can run a little bit and a guy who can't run at all."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine