Jason Caldwell

Auburn's Quarterback Shuffle Has Jonathan Wallace, Jason Smith Pulling Double Duty

A pair of Auburn players are practicing at quarterback as well as wide receiver as the Tigers prepare for Mississippi State.

Jason Smith is a redshirt sophomore for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--In addition to the news that Sean White will start Saturday’s home football game vs. Mississippi State playing quarterback in place of struggling Jeremy Johnson, Coach Gus Malzahn said on Tuesday that a pair of offensive players will be pulling double duty this week.

Senior Jonathan Wallace a starter at quarterback to close the 2012 season, will split practice reps this week between quarterback and wide receiver the coach said.

Newcomer Jason Smith, a juco transfer who joined the team in time for spring training, has been working at wide receiver after being moved to that position from quarterback the first week of spring practice. However, Malzahn notes that the redshirt sophomore will also split time in practice between quarterback and receiver.

“Both of those guys have gotten some (quarterback) reps throughout fall camp and throughout the first couple games,” Auburn’s head coach said. “Both of those guys are also receivers, and both of them are getting better. Both of them will get some reps.”

Smith, one of the team’s faster players, was a big-play threat as a runner last season while playing quarterback at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community. Prior to that he was a dynamic runner while playing quarterback at McGill-Toolen High in Mobile.

Malzahn wouldn’t say if Smith will be used as a wildcat QB this week, but that is something he and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have both said is a possibility.

“I don’t really want to say exactly wildcat or regular offense,” Malzahn said. “I’m probably saying too much by saying both of them are getting reps at quarterback. It could be wildcat.”

Photo: Laura Chramer

Jonathan Wallace is a senior and team captain for the Tigers.

Smith could help the Auburn rushing attack, which has not been up to Malzahn’s standards. The Tigers are averaging 171.7 rushing yards per game, which is ninth in this week’s SEC statistics. Normally the Tigers are or near the top of the league’s rushing categories.

“I think we can run the football,” Malzahn says. “We have to be more consistent with that. Our offensive line and our running backs are a strength.

“In our passing game we have to do what we can do. I still think that we are going to be really efficient in the passing game not only the rest of the season, but in the near future.

“Now that we are narrowing things down and getting the pieces to the puzzle personnel-wise, that will help us moving forward, and we will have a chance to improve each week and really be able to make adjustments. We will do a better job of taking what the defense gives us and be able to execute base plays. That has been our mindset.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s game at soldout Jordan-Hare Stadium is 6:30 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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