QB Competition Continues at Wednesday Workout

A report on Auburn's football practice features comments from coaches and players.

Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn said after Wednesday's Auburn football practice he would like to have a starting quarterback named by the end of spring drills, but with six practices left he noted that he hasn't narrowed the competition in the battle for No. 1.

"We are still letting all four of them get reps," Malzahn said. "We are trying to put them in different situations, especially the young guys right there trying to give them a good look at different things, seeing different blitzes and all that."

Commenting on his quarterback group that includes Cameron Newton, Neil Caudle, Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley, Malzahn said, "I am just trying to figure out the information I need to find out from each one of them. I know all four are good in certain areas. I am trying to find out--we are doing a whole lot of blitz pickups, hot reads and all of that. We are just trying to put those guys in the situation that they need so we can find out the information about them and at the same time try to be successful as a whole offense."

Malzahn added, "The good thing is I feel like we have four quality quarterbacks. There is no doubt about that. At same time, we are not in a hurry, just like last year. We want to be 110 percent for sure, not only when we name a starter, but when we really narrow things down.

"Like I said earlier, common sense will tell you that you would like to do that as soon as you can just for your team's sake, but at the same time we have luxury of the spring. I just want to make sure, and Coach Chiz (Gene Chizik) wants to make sure, we get the right guy and give everybody an equal chance."

The Tigers split their workout of two hours and 15 minutes into defense only and offense only sessions and then offense vs. defense drills with officials there to call penalties. The team won't practice again until a scrimmage on Saturday.

"Both (offense and defense) of us are adding things right now so we saw some different looks and then we had some different wrinkles, too," said Malzahn, who noted he is happy with the fast pace all four quarterbacks are working at in practice.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said, "I thought the contact speed was a little bit better than it was the other day (in the Saturday scrimmage)." However, he added that it is not where it needs to be.

"I thought the procedure was better as far as getting the calls, getting lined up, communication, the procedure of the scrimmage, I thought we did a better job of that today," Roof added.

One of Roof's linebackers, senior Craig Stevens, said he thought the defense had a solid performance on Wednesday.

"We pretty good today," he said. "I don't think we got a three-and-out today, but we got a lot of stops. I think we might have allowed one score today."

Stevens, who has been helping early high school graduate Jessel Curry learn his assignments at linebacker, said the newcomer is making progress. "He has been picking up on it," Stevens noted. "He just has to get used to the athletes being out on the field. He has been picking it up in the classroom. You have to get used to the speed of the game out there. He is just making basic mental mistakes every freshman does."

Stevens predicted by the start of the season that the freshman will be ready to contribute.

Jessel Curry is shown in a linebacker drill at Wednesday's practice. Curry is an early high school graduate.

Malzahn said he is pleased to get sophomore Philip Lutzenkirchen back in the practice after he was sidelined for nearly a week with a mild concussion. "It was just a little minor injury and I sat out for precautionary reasons," Lutzenkirchen said. "Everything is back to normal."

Commenting on his role this season, Lutzenkirchen said, "I am doing a lot of the tight end stuff, with my hand down. We have really been working a lot on that. We have been doing some fullback stuff out of the three spot and some slot work, too--a little bit of everything."

Philip Lutzenkirchen is shown at Wednesday's practice. He was injured earlier this spring after being sandwiched on a tackle by Drew Cole and Eltoro Freeman.

"You can see him getting confidence and getting more physical," Malzahn said of Lutzenkirchen.

News and Notes: Quarterback prospect Christian LeMay from Butler High School in North Carolina attended the practice. The 6-2, 188-pound junior is ranked as the No. 2 QB prospect in the country by Scout.com...Former Tiger linebackers Jason Miska and Antarrious Williams watched Wednesday's practice...Sophomore wide receiver Philip Pierre-Louis, who injured his knee in Saturday's scrimmage, was not at the practice. Auburn's coaches have not commented on when he might be back...Zach Clayton, who was hurt virtually the entire season last year with an ankle injury, has his old quickness back and should be able to contribute at both tackle and end this season...ESPN TV's Craig James was in Auburn on Wednesday as part of a tour of the campuses in the Southeast...Walk-on safety Ikeem Means from Wetumpka, who turned down scholarships from Alabama State, Tuskegee and Alabama A&AM to try to play at Auburn last year, won praise from defensive coordinator Roof, who said the sophomore-to-be is in the mix for playing time. Means, who played wide receiver at Wetumpka High School, said he is getting help from veteran safeties Zac Etheridge and Aarion Savage. Last season he saw significant playing time on special teams and limited duty at safety in games...Mario Fannin got "quite a few looks" at tailback in Wednesday's practice, Malzahn said. The coach noted that he would like to see the senior step up and win a starting spot...Malzahn said the battle for the starting right tackle spot between Brandon Mosley and Roszell Gayden is a good one.


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