Quarterback Battle Remains On For Tigers

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee discusses the play of the quarterbacks on Saturday and throughout spring practice.

Auburn, Ala.—With spring practice winding down for the Auburn Tigers the number one question that remains is who is going to be the quarterback? Junior Kiehl Frazier and sophomore Jonathan Wallace has been locked in a battle for the number one spot throughout the 14 practice days for the Tigers and while both did some good things again during Saturday's A-Day Game, Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says the battle will continue into fall practice.

"I expect both of them to attack it," Lashlee says of the position. "It's a challenge. I hope that makes them work even harder. Sure, people want to know what's going on and this and that. Y'all want to know. They want to know. That's just not where we're at right now. That's not what we need to be doing.

"It's good for those guys to keep pushing each other," he adds. "The thing I've been real proud of, they root for each other in practice. They're good friends, they're close, but competition makes everybody better. Everybody, not only them, it's going to make the whole team better. We still have a lot of competition going on everywhere. Even once we get out of spring when you set a two-deep, it's a preliminary two-deep. You go into August, that thing can change in a heartbeat, too. I expect them to continue to attack the challenge and try to get better and win the job."

Jonathan Wallace

An early three-and-out and a turnover that led directly to a defensive touchdown marred the offense to start Saturday's game, but Lashlee says he saw something out of his group the remainder of the first half. With six touchdown drives on offense and five of them coming on drives of over 65 yards, the first-year Auburn coordinator says it was something to build on for the group heading into the long, hot summer.

"I thought probably the last two series for the White team and the last series for the Blue in the second quarter was when we finally got a little continuity going," Lashlee says. "We had a little rhythm, and our guys started to notice the advantage of pace. That what we were telling them, 'Hey, we're in the second quarter now. Our advantage should start to show a little bit in the second, third and fourth quarter. We had two long drives with the White group really running the football and imposing our will a little bit. That was positive. The Blue group had a nice drive and went down and scored. That was good that we finished the half well. It's still a work in progress as far as being consistent. We'll execute a play really, really well and then it's hard to string three and four and five together sometimes. Between now and the fall, we've got to get to the point where we're executing at a high level more consistently.

"Did we execute flawlessly? No way. Could we have been much better? You bet. And that's what our goal is, that's what their goal is. Both quarterbacks and as a whole on offense, I felt like when things are bad early, what's the natural tendency to do, especially with the most recent history? It's to say, 'OK, here we go again,' and quit. And not one guy quit to a man, not either one of those quarterbacks quit. They pressed on and found a way to lead some drives, go score some points, get some first downs, and battled. That's the first step. The X's and O's, the quality execution every time, will come. That's why we practice. That's part of the process. That's the thing I was most proud of was the intangible part that we pushed through those adverse situations. It started bad in front of 80,000 people, it's really easy to tank it and they didn't."

With the final practice of the spring on Wednesday and not in full pads, the heavy lifting is pretty much done for the Tigers and for the seventh-straight year Auburn won't have a quarterback coming out of the spring. Even though it was only 11 days after spring practice ended before Cam Newton was named the starter, technically the last guy cemented into the position following spring drills was Brandon Cox in 2006. That means a lot of work is yet to be done for both quarterbacks and Lashlee is anxious to see how they respond.

"Right now, it's kind of an either-or deal," Lashlee notes. "That's kind of how I rotated them all spring, even through A-Day. That's the way it was in practice. There was no rhyme or reason. They got equal reps throughout all the spring. They both stayed healthy. Their arms are in good shape. The positive is they've gotten a lot of reps, and they got so much better from day one to now, but there's still a long way to go and they know that. The key is for them on their own, how bad do they want it from now to August because we don't get to work with them. How much work are they willing to put in to take that next jump before we get back together."

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