Auburn defenders relish seeing quarterbacks in blue

Aug. 8, 2013

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Auburn quarterbacks had to deal with onrushing defenders in Wednesday scrimmage (Todd Van Emst photo)

By Phillip Marshall
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - When Jermaine Whitehead and his defensive teammates got the news before Wednesday's scrimmage, they whooped and hollered in celebration.

The quarterbacks, they were told, would wear blue instead of orange. That meant they could be hit. Whitehead was still smiling at the thought when the scrimmage was over.

"That turns our whole defense up," Whitehead said, laughing. "You get to hit the guys that have been talking all the smack. Don't let them complete a pass. They'll carry on for the rest of the day."

Defenders put the heat on Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson every chance they got in the scrimmage that was moved from Jordan-Hare Stadium to the indoor facility because of heavy rain. The four quarterbacks, all competing for the starting job, apparently emerged no worse for the experience.

"I don't think we got anything big," Whitehead said. "I think we got to them in a couple of sacks and smashed them down to the ground a little bit, but I don't think we got to take anybody's head off."

In fact, Whitehead said, the quarterbacks were willing to give as good as they got.

"They ran pretty much, especially the ones that think they are bad and can run people over," Whitehead said, laughing again. "They tried to hit us back, which was good to see, that they would deliver a blow."

The next question for Whitehead was whether any of the quarterbacks did run over any defenders.

"Ah, no," he said. "They aren't living up to that."

Good-natured talking aside, senior linebacker Jake Holland said he thought it was a good move by head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff to make the quarterbacks live.

"I was excited," Holland said. "It brings a new aspect to the scrimmage, for sure. I've never been in a scrimmage where quarterbacks were live before. I think the d-line got a few good shots. I didn't get a chance to.

"For a coach, that's a huge deal. They want to see who can get out of tough situations. I think our guys handled that well."

Whitehead said even Marshall and Johnson, newcomers to the quarterback race, have shown confidence and poise since the start of spring practice.

"They embraced it," Whitehead said. "We've been embracing them as a team. They feel at home. They feel like it's their time and they have a chance."

 

Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: