Chizik Talks Trotter, Auburn Offense

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik talks about Barrett Trotter, the quarterback pecking order, offense and much more.

Auburn, Ala.—The offensive struggles that have plagued the Auburn Tigers surfaced again on Saturday night in a 38-14 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road. A combination of quarterback play, protection problems, dropped passes and penalties cost Coach Gene Chizik's team dearly and he said it's all of those things and more that the coaching staff is looking over on Sunday.

"Today we're really going back and evaluating closely our game last night with Arkansas before we move ahead with Florida," Chizik said. "We've got a lot of things to correct and a lot of things to get better at starting today. We obviously understand the great challenge with Florida coming in here. It ought to be a good football game."

When an offense has problems the first player to get the blame is the quarterback and there's no question that Barrett Trotter had had his share of mistakes. Against Arkansas he was just 6-19 for 81 yards with an interception, but you can look closer at his numbers and see that it doesn't all fall on his shoulders. Five dropped passes would have changed things considerably on his stat line as well as for Auburn's offensive fortunes. Throw in several holding calls that negated big gainers and Chizik said it was a total team loss and not just on Trotter.

"I thought our play could have been much better at the quarterback position, but it wasn't solely on the quarterback that's for sure," Chizik said. "I think without question the pressure he was under some of the night was part of the effect. I think the five or six different dropped balls were part of the reason, one of those resulting in an interception. We certainly could have played better there's no question about that. It was a total team loss. You can't pin that on one guy or one side of the ball. It was a team loss."

On the season Auburn's offense is third in the league in rushing, but ninth in passing yardage and eight in total defense. Those rankings are a far cry from any offense Gus Malzahn has ever put on the field as a college coordinator. When that happens the questions arise about the starting quarterback. With Kiehl Frazier getting more involved and Clint Moseley waiting in the wings Chizik said at the moment there is no change at the position.

"Today, Barrett Trotter is our starting quarterback," Chizik said. "Obviously we'll spend all day today, we'll spend all day tomorrow evaluating all of our positions on our team just like we do every Sunday and every Monday. And we'll go from there. But today, Barrett Trotter is our starting quarterback.

"There is always competition at that position. There is always competition at every position. We're going to continue to closely evaluate whatever gives us the best chance to win every week. That's not just the quarterback spot that's every spot."

With Frazier getting more and more work and the offense rotating quarterbacks during drives it could be a case of breeding continuity problems at the position. Chizik said that's not a concern for the Tigers however because they are essentially running two different offenses.

"I don't worry about the continuity because it's two different mindsets," Chizik said. "It's not different than going wildcat from a couple of years ago. For us to move the football, we need to run the football. That's the bottom line. We have to be able to run the ball. We ran for 291 yards yesterday. Not that we're satisfied with that; we lost. The idea is that we have to run the football. We're going to create ways to be able to do that. That is one of the ways we feel like we can (run the ball.) That in conjunction with our normal running game and play-action pass, that's what we feel like gives us a chance to pass the ball." While Auburn has quarterback and offensive questions, for this week's opponent it's more like quarterback concerns. Neither starter John Brantley or second-teamer Jeff Driskell dressed out for the 41-11 loss at LSU and Brantley is expected to be out for at least two more weeks. True freshman Jacoby Brissett took over for the Gators and played solid in the loss and could be the guy this week for Will Muschamp's team. Chizik said Auburn will go into the game having to form a plan based more on the offense and less on which quarterback will play.

"They are just a very talented team," Chizik said. "They have really, really good players and a great coaching staff. When you're not sure who is going to play quarterback you have to play the what-if game, which certainly gets interesting. We'll look at everything very closely and give our best educated guess on who they are going to use."

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Chizik said that Emory Blake is still being evaluated this week as is senior offensive lineman Jared Cooper. Blake missed the game with an ankle injury while Cooper went down with a lower leg injury during Saturday night's game. He was wearing a walking boot late in the game on the sidelines.

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