Multiple QBs Shine at Auburn's A-Day

A game report on Auburn's A-Day football contest features comments from Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Ted Roof and Auburn players.

Auburn, Ala.--An Auburn record spring football crowd turned out on a beautiful April afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the annual spring game that was turnover-free and featured big plays from the offense.

However, anybody who was looking for clarity in the quarterback situation probably left Jordan-Hare Stadium still puzzled about who is No. 1 in the battle to replace graduated Chris Todd as Auburn's starting signal caller.

Neil Caudle, last year's top backup, completed 17-21 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown and looked generally poised running the offense. The interception problems which nagged him at earlier scrimmages were not an issue on Saturday.

"I really felt really comfortable out there today," said Caudle, who played for the Blue team and the White team on Saturday as a crowd of 63,217 watched the action. "I think that is from running the offense enough and knowing what to do. I just went out there and tried to have fun today."

Barrett Trotter was also impressive. The redshirt sophomore completed 6-10 passes for 94 yards and noted that he was also pleased about how he performed seeing time with both teams.

"I have definitely made a lot of progress getting back out there and getting my timing with the receivers," said Trotter, who missed the 2009 season with a knee injury.

Trotter said his goal is to "just keep working hard." He added, "If I do that, the rest will pan out, but you can really worry about it (the QB competition) or you will think yourself to death."

One of the players fans came to see, junior college transfer Cameron Newton, completed 3-8 passes for 61 yards and did not have a touchdown while he directed the offense.

Newton called his play just "okay." He did lead a long drive, but it ended when backup kicker Chandler Brooks hit the upright on a 22-yard field goal try.

Newton, Caudle and Trotter split the reps at quarterback in the first half when the scrimmage was set up as a Blue vs. White contest with the Blue featuring the top offensive players and the White squad featuring the first stringers on offense.

That produced a 14-14 tie at intermission when the game changed to an offense vs. defense scrimmage with a running clock that allowed redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Moseley to get his first A-Day playing time on Saturday.

Working in a situation featuring reserves vs. reserves, Moseley completed 10-12 passes for 55 yards and looked rather impressive if he is the fourth string quarterback, something offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who is also the quarterbacks coach, wouldn't confirm or deny.

"We have four solid quarterbacks and each performed at a high level today and have done that most of the spring," Malzahn said. "Each one of them made a play and that was refreshing to see."

Commenting on what he is looking for in his starter, Malzahn said, "We are looking for the guy who gives us the best chance of winning. We are looking for a guy who makes the other 10 guys better than they are and we are looking for a guy who is someone the other players can believe in. We are also looking for somebody who will protect the football."

Mario Fannin (27) runs for yardage at Josh Bynes closes in for the tackle.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said, "I know we are further along where we were at this time last year. That doesn't mean we are happy with where we are because we still have a long way to go."

Commenting on the game, Roof said, "I thought we got some good four-man pressure at times and I thought the short yardage defense was pretty decent at times. Everybody played, including some guys who hadn't really repped in practice, but at the same time it was a good reward for those guys to get in there and play in front of their families and thousands of fans. What an awesome crowd it was."

Head coach Gene Chizik said he was generally pleased with the A-Day Game that featured no turnovers and just three penalties. "We've tried to challenge every guy so far," Chizik said discussing individual improvement.

"Every player makes our team better," the coach said. "We've tried to make our guys more accountable and be a better player and part of that is the mistakes we made last year as a football team that involved penalties. I don't know how many penalties we committed today. We didn't have very many which was good.

"Again, that goes back to accountability of what we're asking everybody to do," Chizik added. "We told the officials to really watch things closely and call whatever you see. It was good to see not a lot of yellow flags out there today."

Senior defensive end Antoine Carter was named MVP on defense, wide receiver Quindarius Carr was the MVP on offense and Wes Byrum, who made a 50-yard field goal, was named special teams MVP.

"It was a fun game, but it would have been more fun if we could have hit the quarterbacks," Carter said with a smile. He was credited with 2 1/2 touch sacks and five total tackles.

Carr caught four passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. "I got a chance to show my speed out there today," the junior said with a smile. "I feel like I am continuing to improve."

The first score of the day came from walk-on wide receiver Nathan Taylor, who caught a perfectly thrown 50-yard bomb from Trotter playing for the White team in the first quarter.

The Blue tied the game early in the second quarter on a two-yard run by Mario Fannin to cap an 11-play, 70-yard drive directed by Caudle. Fannin ran the ball three times for 20 yards.

The Blue made the score 14-7 on a quick screen pass play to Terrell Zachery, who showed his speed to race down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown.

The last score of the first half was a 70-yard plass play from Caudle to Carr, who got past four would-be tacklers. "That was a lot of fun," the junior said with a big smile.

In the second half, with the offense vs. the defense, Byrum hit the 50-yard field goal and Dontae Aycock scored on a six-yard run. Aycock, a redshirt freshman, rushed the ball five times for 16 yards. AU's other tailback, Onterio McCalebb, netted 10 yards on six carries.

"I thought it was a productive day," Chizik said. "It was designed to be a fairly quick game. We got some good reps. In the first half we got 30 reps with most of the offense and the defense which was good. It wasn't too many and it wasn't too little and that's good. We had good reps on both sides of the ball and tried to stay vanilla today. We wanted to see them block, throw and catch, that's really what we did.

"Overall it was productive," he We'll go back and we'll grade the film and we'll see the things we did well and the things that we did bad. Overall, I think in day 14 of spring they're tired and they're beat up. We had a phenomenal crowd out there today. I just have to take my hat off to our fan base--incredible today. That was awesome and our kids loved it.

"They just showed their true Auburn pride today and that's what the Auburn family is about. I thought it was a great day."

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