Aug. 7, 2013
Gus Malzahn sets up his Wednesday scrimmage during Tuesday's practice (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Coach Gus Malzahn needs a starting quarterback. What better place to look for one than in Jordan-Hare Stadium?
Auburn will stage its first scrimmage of fall practice in the stadium Wednesday with a focus on finding a manageable rotation for quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson.
Do the quarterbacks understand that?
"They should," Malzahn said. "They’ve been told and I really believe they’ll be ready. There’s nothing better to evaluate a quarterback than a scrimmage situation. Some people find a way to raise their level and some people get a little nervous."
Frazier and Wallace started for Auburn last year. Marshall is a junior college transfer. Johnson was in high school in the spring.
"The two new guys are getting more comfortable, you can tell. I think they’re getting a better understanding," Malzahn said. "We’re putting our installs in so there’s a lot going on. The older guys, they’re a little more comfortable.
But trying to give four quarterbacks equal practice time has been a challenge in the first five days of practice.
"The scrimmage will help us," Malzahn said.
Auburn prepared for the scrimmage by practicing in full pads Tuesday for the first time this fall.
"I think guys were excited to get to some tackle football," said fullback Jay Prosch. "The last few days we’ve been doing kind of thud practices. Guys really came out today and were physical."
Auburn has stretched its practices into a first, second and third-teams so the coaches can properly evaluate the quarterbacks.
"It’s hard really when you come out to the practice field to have one thing really stand out as far as the young guys are concerned," Malzahn said. "But here’s the good thing: They’re getting plenty of opportunities to show the coaches what they can do and that was part of the plan."
But trying to give four quarterbacks equal practice time is a challenge.
"I think they're somewhat similar. Each one of them has got strengths," Malzahn said. "I will tell you this: I think they're all four solid quarterbacks. I think that's the positive."
Malzahn said he'd use his patented hurry-up offense with the veterans. He'll slow it down for the rookies.
"There will be a little bit of pace with the older guys and the younger guys we'll slow down just a little bit so we can evaluate them," he said.
Malzahn's focus on the scrimmage was evident even in Tuesday's practice. He cut it short so everybody will be ready for the scrimmage.
"We just want to make sure everybody gets to the scrimmage somewhat fresh," Malzahn said. "It will be a big scrimmage for us, not only for players but with the coaches evaluating them.
"We’ll be fairly basic offensively and defensively so we can evaluate."
The players say they know what's in store.
"Coach Malzahn told us a 100-play scrimmage. It’s going to be a long day," said defensive lineman Craig Sanders.
Charles Goldberg writes for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: