Wallace In Running For Starting Job

Auburn coach Gene Chizik talks about the quarterback position and the play of freshman Jonathan Wallace.

Auburn, Ala.—A day after one of the worst performances in Auburn football history, coach Gene Chizik and the Tigers are taking the day off to lick their wounds and spend some time watching video of the many mistakes in the 63-21 loss to Texas A&M. With the worst start to a season in 60 years and homecoming this week against one-win New Mexico State, Chizik said the focus is on self-evaluation for the Tigers.

"It's tough," Chizik said. "You go back and look and evaluate things, where as coaches we could have put them in better positions to make plays, also as players when you're in a position to make plays, making those plays and not making those plays. Just going back and really doing a very thorough self-evaluation of a very tough game, it's hard. That's why we're spending more time in there today in the film room and more time on the game film really going over in greater detail and get some of these things fixed."

The first order of business is at the quarterback position where true freshman Jonathan Wallace was one of the few bright spots on offense for the Tigers. With starter Clint Moseley banged up with a sore ankle and sophomore Kiehl Frazier still struggling with an arm injury, Wallace came on and led the Tigers to a pair of touchdowns through the air and was on the field for Tre Mason's rushing touchdown as well.

With his play and the spark he provided for the offense, Chizik said Wallace and the rest of the quarterbacks will be evaluated this week with the freshman having a legit shot to earn the starting job.

"By Tuesday we really need to see where the status health-wise is off all our quarterbacks," Chizik said. "I think everybody knows that Jonathan came in and did a very nice job. That was very good to see. The offense, he's kind of picked it up piece by piece. It was really good to see him get into a game and really execute at a pretty high level. Obviously he'll be in strong consideration for quarterback playing time on a full-time basis. When we put together the health of all the quarterbacks we'll see where we're at."

Completing 6-9 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, Wallace equaled Frazier's team lead for touchdown passes this season with that performance. Showing poise in the pocket and the ability to make plays with his feet, Chizik said overall it was a big showing for a player still learning the offense.

"I was very proud of him," Chizik said. "If you go back and look at it, number one, he was very patient when he threw the football. Even though there might have been some pass rush around him, he stood back in the pocket and he threw it without really working about where the rush was. That was good to see.

"There were times when he got out of a little bit of trouble and extended a play with his feet and made a play," he added. "I thought he was very productive, even running the football. He fumbled the ball two times last week, he came back and he was very adamant about protecting the ball every time he carried it. I thought he made very good decisions. The most impressive part to me was he stood back in the pocket when it was time to throw the football, and he made some accurate throws with some pressure around him. That was good to see."

With a season on the brink Auburn fans showed their displeasure in the Tigers' performance last night by leaving in droves at halftime and much of the second half in the big loss. Chizik said it's something that comes with the territory when you aren't playing well, but he believes better times are coming for the program.

"I feel a very high sense of responsibility to our fans because I think we've got great fans but they also want to see us win," Chizik said. "I think that's fair. As we went back and looked at the film, you can see a lot of them left. Based on the production of what they saw, I understand why they did. I do want to encourage them that there will be a better day and I do want to encourage them that being part of Auburn is coming to support their team. I'm hoping that they'll still do that.

"Our guys are young guys learning how to win. It's going to be an early game but I want to encourage everybody to come out and support our guys, because it's all about the players. It's all about these young guys. I understand it. Everybody wants a win. Obviously last night we didn't give them a lot of reason to stay. I think that's fair to say. But I do want to still reach out to them and hope to encourage them to come and support our guys, everybody that loves Auburn."

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