With Auburn's annual spring comes the high expectations and anticipation for the coming up season -- especially at the quarterback position.
The question mark surrounding the on-going quarterback battle at Auburn has been one of the more polarizing battles in college football. The four-way battle has been kept tight-lipped during spring practice regarding who is ahead of who, but the competitive nature of the battle has been praised by coaches.
“The biggest thing is, you know, you can tell they’re desperate to be coached,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “As far as everything goes with the details, they’re all competitors. It’s been a very healthy competition so far. Now, at the same time, you rotate four guys, it’s tough to have continuity and consistency and everything that goes with that. The first week, we really went three full groups. When you rotate three full groups, you’re rotating a lot of different people.
“We’re kind of starting to narrow that thing down this week to really just going two and rotating some of the younger guys in with the first two groups. That’s usually when you can start getting consistent and get everybody around the quarterback where they should be, so you can really evaluate a quarterback more precisely. So, we’re kind of getting to that point this week, as far as just going with two groups. But their attitude has been good. Like I said, they all want to win the job, and that’s the biggest thing.”
A-Day will not reveal much of the future of the offense with Malzahn keeping offensive play-calling simple, letting the quarterbacks just simply handle the offense and getting the young quarterbacks in front of a crowd.
“Managing the offense,” Malzahn said. “We’ve been putting in installs, we reinstalled, and then it gets to be a point that you just play the game. You let them play a game. And my experience is, you get them in front of a crowd and certain guys respond differently than others. Like I said, we let them go live. We learned a lot. But really just managing the offense and getting the ball in the end zone.”
The non-contact part of the Auburn spring scrimmage will hinder the ability for the quarterbacks to fully display their abilities and Malzahn expressed this concern and is why earlier in the spring, he let the quarterbacks go live for a closed scrimmage.
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“It’s kinda been on our minds but you know gather so much more information by letting the guys play because when you quick whistle things and they take off, you question yourself, ‘would he have been tackled, would he have not been tackled,’” Malzahn said. “Then you get them with their decision making and you also get to see them protecting the football and everything that goes with it. There’s a lot of teachable moments.
“We do have quite a bit of inexperience at the quarterback position, so it just felt like it was very important that we did that. You know the scrimmage was pretty bland, offensively and defensively, we didn’t do a whole lot on either side of the football but that was by design, too, letting our quarterbacks go live with everything that goes with it, but we learned some things.”
All of Auburn’s quarterbacks could be defined as mobile, so with the inability to use their legs, the success of the quarterbacks will need to come from their arms.
This takes away from the more athletic quarterbacks, Joey Gatewood and Malik Willis, who rely on their athleticism more than Cord Sandberg and Bo Nix.
It will be the first time the public will lay eyes on the quarterbacks in action and assumptions will be drawn about who should be the starting quarterback of Auburn come next season.
It is unlikely that the future starter will win his job from his performance at A-Day. It is far more likely that the answer will not come until fall camp.
The biggest thing to be remembered from Saturday’s scrimmage is to take the results with a grain of salt because for example, in 2010’s A-Day, Cam Newton did not look like a quarterback that would end up winning the Heisman Trophy and bringing Auburn its first Championship in over 50 years.
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