Auburn, Ala.—For the fourth time in his four seasons as coach of the Auburn Tigers, Gene Chizik heads into a new campaign searching for his starting quarterback.
With Barrett Trotter gone from last year's team and troubled freshman Zeke Pike gone after a tumultuous few months on the Plains, Auburn heads into the 2012 season with only three scholarship quarterbacks and two candidates for the starting job in junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier.
Playing in 10 games with six starts as a sophomore in 2011, Moseley got a taste of life in the SEC and played well at times as a redshirt sophomore. Completing a very respectable 61.1 percent of his passes for 800 yards, the Leroy native had five touchdowns and three interceptions.
The problem was that four of his touchdowns came in a win over Ole Miss and the other in a victory over Samford. In those two games Moseley completed 25-35 passes for 327 yards. In the remaining seven games he played in last season (four starts) he completed just 41-73 passes for 463 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Now looking for more consistency and improvement on the field, Moseley said one of the positives for him on the first day of preseason practice was the carryover on offense allowing them to hit the ground running.
"It was a lot different today than it was in the spring," Moseley said following the first practice. "We're a lot farther along. That was just an introduction in the spring. He (Scot Loeffler) wanted to go a lot more in-depth and a lot quicker in the spring. It being such a difficult offense to learn and that being the first semester, we weren't able to go as fast as we wanted to.
"Now that it's getting closer to game time, we have to. It's a night and day difference this fall camp. Not only the pace we're going but how much me and Kiehl know. And Wallace coming in, he's got a lot to learn, but he's one that will definitely put the time in to do it. Just all around, it's a lot different."
While Moseley had the opportunity to throw the football last season, the same can't be said of Frazier. Attempting 12 total passes and completing five for just 34 yards with two interceptions, the true freshman looked overwhelmed at times in 2011 trying to make plays in the SEC.
Part of the reason for that could have been that he was used mainly as a runner and never had the opportunity to get any kind of feel for throwing the football. He said that's one of the reasons he has worked hard to improve the technical aspect of his game.
"Really it's just footwork and reads," Frazier said of his improvements. "I didn't do much of that last year in Coach Malzahn's system. I kind of just did the read option. Really just overall quarterback play, Coach Loeffler has really helped me progress there."
Splitting the reps with the first team in the opening practice, both Moseley and Frazier know exactly what's ahead. With Chizik and Loeffler waiting to see which quarterback steps up to earn the starting job, both said it's time to make it happen.
"You mean is this it?" Moseley asked about it being his last true shot to be the starter. "Yeah, I guess so, but at the same time the same thing happened last year. Kiehl could get hurt in game one or he could not get hurt. The desperation is there. Yeah, there's definitely a sense of urgency. I realize that my time is coming in a couple of years here at Auburn. So yeah, it's there, but it's not going to completely change the way I go about it."
Frazier, a heavily recruited prospect out of Springdale, Ark., said, "Everybody wants to be the starter. That's why everybody came to Auburn, to play at Jordan-Hare and be the starting quarterback. Really we're just worried about getting better. Clint is really one of my best friends on the team. We're just taking it one day at a time trying to get better individually."