Country music legend, Alan Jackson, once sang that too much of a good thing is a good thing.
The Auburn Tigers and first-year head coach, Gus Malzahn are finding out having good things can make it tough sometimes as a four-way quarterback battle is ensuing in Auburns’ fall camp.
For a coach that prides himself on his team’s up-tempo, scoring lots of points, Malzahn has been in no hurry mode to name a starter behind center that will lead his troops out against Washington State on August 31.
Malzahn said this offseason that determining a starter at quarterback from a list of four candidates would be amongst his top priority going into preseason drills on Aug. 2.
This season will mark Malzahns’ eighth consecutive college-coaching season that he will have to name a new starting signal caller including previous stops at Arkansas, Tulsa, Auburn and Arkansas State.
Offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee says the main attribute him and Malzahn want is someone who can effectively run Malzahns’ no-huddle run-and-gun style of offense by protecting the football and making all the pivotal reads and throws. Lashlee also said the team should have a starting quarterback named in mid-August.
Junior Kiehl Frazier, sophomore Jonathan Wallace, freshman Jeremy Johnson and junior college transfer Nick Marshall make up the list of talented quarterbacks vying for the starting position this season.
Frazier, former USA Today national high school player of the year, is the most experienced of the group coming into this season for the Tigers, having played his freshmen season with Malzahn and a no-huddle offense in high school at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Arkansas. In nine games last season, six as the starter, he completed 62 of 116 passes for 753 yards, two touchdowns and eight pickoffs.
Frazier could be the biggest wild card at quarterback going into this season. After starting the season 1-4 as the starting quarterback last season in Scot Loeffler’s ground-and-pound offense, Frazier was benched for the rest of the season. As a result, Frazier’s confidence took a hit. The biggest question is whether or not a more familiar offense could make a difference for him to break out in 2013.
Wallace completed 46 of his 80 passes last season for four scores, coming off the pine to start the Tigers’ last four games going 2-2 and setting the Auburn freshman quarterback efficiency record at 139.80. Wallace seemed to be a little ahead of the pack coming out of spring, Wallace looked more comfortable with the offense in the spring game and made some completions in tight windows. But, Wallace never distanced himself from the pack after throwing an interception in the game. A big no-no for any quarterback competing in a tight position battle.
True freshman, Jeremy Johnson is the tallest at 6-foot-6 and could be possess the best arm of Malzahn’s group at the quarterback position. Johnson, Mr. Football in the state of Alabama last season, passed for 3,193 yards and rushed for 705 yards with 31 touchdowns while leading his Wolverine team to a 11-2 record at Montgomery G.W. Carver High School his senior season. Johnson is a blue chip, highly recruited dual-threat quarterback out of high school looks to be the “future” for the Tigers at the position. Johnson may very well be the best at the position, but it is evident that he could be putting on the red shirt this season and becoming the heir for 2013.
Junior college transfer Marshall passed for three 142 yards, rushed for 1,095 yards with 37 touchdowns combined at Garden City (KS) Community College last season. Marshall has all the tools you look for in a spread offense quarterback. Has a very lively arm and can flee the pocket and pick up first downs. He gives the Tigers’ immediate playmaking ability if given the starting nod. He also is the only one in the group that has been successful at the college level.
The Tigers’ are ready to break out this season and bring the program back to national prominence after going 3-9 overall, including going 0-8 last season in the SEC with Gus Malzahn as their new head coach.
How does the Auburn Tigers get back to winning in this league and gaining national prominence?
History has proven that when Auburn and Malzahn has that right-system quarterback, they can compete for SEC and most importantly, national championships.
Ever heard of Cam Newton?