Yet Another QB Controversy on the Plains

By Posted on: May 8th, 2013 in Member Post 22 Comments »

As the summer rolls around and we are all sweltering in the sun, longing for the beautiful colors of fall to begin to show, it just wouldn’t be normal without a quarterback controversy at Auburn.  It’s kind of like getting gas after eating at Denny’s, or rain showing up in the Sahara desert just because I declared I wanted to play golf on that particular day, or celebrity couples getting divorced, it’s just an inevitability that we Tiger fans have just gotten used to the last few years.

This year it’s different than the last few years, because we actually have some hope.  We all knew Gus Malzhan would be bringing high caliber talent to the Plains, because we all know that elite QB’s will line up to play in his system.  If Gus is successful, you can bet the farm that every single year we will have 4 and 5 star quarterbacks from all over the country clamoring to come to Auburn dreaming of being the next Cam Newton.

This year’s crop could just be the beginning of Auburn being known as Quarterback U, instead of our former nickname, ‘Running back U’.  I am reminded of how many RB’s we sent to the NFL in the 90′s, not to mention how many were successful.  When was the last time a school had 2 RB’s drafted in the 1st round in the same year?  Hell, there was a time when Auburn University had Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, and Brandon Jacobs all in their backfield at the same time.  That is ridiculous.

The same type of elite power could be in our future, if Malzhan’s success is as I believe it will be.  Kids want to go where they can be exposed to national media, have gaudy stats, contend for titles, and play against the best.  Auburn, with some time to recover from the Chizik mess, will certainly be able to offer all of that.

We have several names coming to the Plains that could very well be the next elite QB that stuns the nation, or it could be nothing.  We all know that how many stars you had by your name means absolutely jack squat after signing day.  Trovon Reed was a 5 star.  How’s he done?  Lots of expectations, very few results.  Last year’s Heisman winner?  A 3 star.  An interesting stat I heard when I was watching the Pro Bowl in 2009.  How many former high school 5 star recruits were playing in the game?   Answer:  ONE.  Derrick Brooks.  How ’bout that!

Anyway, all this blather from me is leading down to one thing, my opinions of this year’s crop of Quarterbacks.  Pros, cons, and my best realistic guesses on what to expect.  We don’t have a lot of information on anybody, either a high school career or a few games of work at the most.  Quite frankly, all any of us can do at this point is guess.  So, with that being said, here are my guesses:

KIEHL FRAZIER

I still believe Kiehl has the athletic tools necessary to be an elite quarterback in the SEC.  The big question is, does he have it between the ears?  He’s a smart kid, he understands the offense, but he doesn’t seem to be able to handle the pressure of being a starter.  A lot of his between the ears problems I attribute DIRECTLY to his HORRENDOUS mishandling by Gene Chizik and his staff.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Chizik screwed him up royally.  He should have been starting the entire second half of 2011, gaining the experience he needed, preparing for the future, and making the mistakes he was making last year with an entire offseason to look at them, learn from them, and get better.  But because of Chizik’s short-sighted and amateurish managment of the team, Frazier was thrown into the fire with a far inferior team last year, his confidence was shattered, and in my opinion, never really got a fair shot.  I don’t know if he will ever be able to recover, and I don’t know that we’ll ever see the player that he could have become, thanks to Chizik’s foolishness.  That being said, in my opinion, he’s got the best shot.  It remains to be seen as to whether or not he can capitalize.

Pros:  He knows Malzhan’s system better than anybody.  He’s been in the system the longest, he’s been at Auburn the longest, he’s an upperclassman, and he has experience.

Cons:  He’s had a shot and hasn’t capitalized before.  The fact that he has all of this going for him, and he has NOT emerged from Spring practice as the clear frontrunner speaks volumes.   Wallace is hot on his heels, if not dead even with him, and he hasn’t stepped up and FORCED Chizik to conced the spot to him. 

Conclusion:  He just might not be good enough mentally.  He might not be tough enough between the ears to handle the job.  Of course, we once said that about Jason Campbell, and we were happily dead wrong.  For Kiehl’s sake, I hope we are.

JONATHAN WALLACE

He took the reins during last year’s disastrous season, and while he wasn’t able to win, he was able to drag the team up to a couple of respectable showings.  A lot of people fell in love with him, thinking he was the second coming.  You have to remember, he was filling in for CLINT FREAKING MOSELY.  Hell, I could have gotten a better response than Mosely did.  I personally think there was a lot of ‘at least he’s not Mosely’ going on there.  From what I saw of Wallace, he was an average on his best day Quarterback that was an above average athlete, and well above average on mental toughness and leadership.  He took a bad team that didn’t believe in anything and at least got them going again.  Honestly, if Auburn had a Frankenstein department and could graft Wallace’s head on Frazier’s body, I think we’d have our QB.

Pros:  He’s very tough mentally, a VERY good athlete, and has proven he has what it takes to be a QB in the SEC.  I’d like to see what he could do with a little bit of team around him.

Cons:  Despite his atleticism, his QB skills are average on his best day.  We don’t know how he’ll do in Malzhan’s offense, but  I suspect he’d do fine.  He doesn’t have Frazer’s knowledge or experience in Malzhan’s offense, though. 

Conclusions:  I don’t believe he’ll be the starter.  I don’t believe he’ll play QB at the next level, and I think as a QB in the SEC, he’s a solid backup and nothing more.  Frazier has a better chance than he does, although I do like the kid, respect his mental toughness, and definitely believe he is an asset to the team.

JEREMY JOHNSON

Welcome to Auburn, Mr. Football.  He’s big, he’s fast, he’s athletic, and he’ll redshirt.  No chance of being a starter with the crop we have there now.   Also, Gene Chizik was a functional idiot when it came to managing personel, Malzhan is not.  He knows that Johnson is the QB of the future at Auburn, and he’ll more than likely save him a year with a redshirt.  Unless he comes into practice and is just a world beater, he’ll spend a year carrying a clipboard and learning, which is exactly what he should be doing.  Of course, if he DOES turn out to be a world beater, I know Malzhan isn’t afraid to start a true freshman.  He isn’t Chizik.  The best player will play, which is how it should be.  Will that happen, I doubt it.  But it COULD happen.

Pros:  He has every single athletic tool necessary to be a future superstar.  He was a winner in high school, with gaudy stats and doesn’t appear to be a troublemaker. 

Cons:  He has ZERO experience.  He could be Tim Tebow or Johnny Manziel, or he could be Trovon Reed or Ryan Leaf.  We’ll never know until he shows up.  True freshman as special as the ones I listed are as rare as a shooting star shaped like a 4 leaf clover.  They are out there, but it doesn’t happen much.

Conclusion:  El Redshirto.  No starting  job, no playing time this year.  Watch out for the future, though.

NICK MARSHALL

I’m inclined to be optimistic about Marshall simply because the last JUCO quarterback we picked up, although I can’t quite remember his name, seemed to do OK.  Of course, I am trying like hell to reserve judgement because Marshall has a lot of ‘flavor of the month’ stench about him.  Everybody is remembering that ex-JUCO guy and getting excited, but people are forgetting that the first time he was in FBS he didn’t make it as a QB.  They forget that he threw 20 interceptions last year.  There’s a lot of question marks about this guy, whereas when that other JUCO guy came to Auburn, what was his name?  Rhymes with Spam?  When he came there was ZERO questions about his on-field JUCO performance.  He was a world beater that won the JUCO national championship while making defenses look stupid.  The only reason he didn’t get a shot at Florida was because he was behind that Tebow guy.  Marshall doesn’t have that.

Pros:  Lots of athletic tools.  Experience.  Maturity.  He’s been THE MAN on his JUCO team and has proven he can handle starting.

Cons:  Unproven in the bigtime as a QB.  Lots of interceptions last year.  Past character problems although they seem to be behind him.  Lack of experience in Malzhan’s offense compared to Frazier.

Conclusion:  It’s between him and Frazier for the starting job.  If he’s got it between the ears, and picks up the offense quickly, I think he could be the man, and I think he could be good. 

 

FINAL CONCLUSION

It’s a coin flip right now between Marshall and Frazier.  Frazier is better on paper and knows the offense better, but the fact that he’s not wowing right now speaks volumes and he is most definitely vulnerable.  Marshall could most definitely capitalize on that vulnerability if he shows up and looks as good as people think he can.  Wallace is a close third behind those two, with Jeremy Johnson bringing up the rear.  I can tell you, though, if no QB steps up to be a star this year, Johnson will be squarely on the radar next year. 

Any way you slice it, though, there is a lot of hope for the future.  War Eagle!!

  1. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    Derrick Thomas died in 2000 in a car wreck.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I must’ve screwed up the name. I remember the announcers making that point during the game. I’ll look it up.

      • CapnVegetto says:

        Yep, fixed it. It was Derrick Brooks in 2009. I knew it was Derrick something. Apologies for that.

  2. Todd92 Todd92 says:

    I can understand your logic somewhat… But I think you sell Wallace short and I think Marshall wins the job only if Frazier or Wallace are complete disasters. Cam had the luxury of going through spring Marshall does not and for that reason he is behind the eight ball with the playbook. Jason smith will be given his shot and then placed with the WR corps. Johnson will as you say redshirt unless he is truly a phenom like we havent seen before. In my opinion it comes down to Frazier and Wallace and if A Day is an indication Wallace has the lead. Also I’m not sure why you can attribute one players poor performance to the previous coaching staff (Frazier) and throw another under a bus by repeatedly using him as an example of a 5* bust. Doesn’t make sense…. All the players get a new start an none should be considered a bust yet IMO.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I can attribute his poor performance directly to his complete mishandling by Chizik and co. or at least some of it. You don’t take a zero experience QB and throw him into the fire of the SEC with a bad team while all the time knowing that the job can be pulled from him at any second. You send him out there the second half of a nothing-to-lose season, tell him, “OK kid, it’s your team,” and let him learn. Then he has an entire offseason and spring to go over the mistakes he made, learns from them, and comes back a COMPLETELY different player. Chizik failed MISERABLY. He was a like a poor corporate manager desperately trying to eek out a meager profit in one quarter, while sacrificing the entire future of the company for it. Stupid, stupid decision.

      Trovon Reed vs. Kiehl Frazier is apples and oranges. Reed has had his chances, and has failed repeatedly to produce. Not just once. Granted, injuries have played a part in this, but it’s not the entire story with him. I hope he breaks out this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    I can’t speculate on quarterbacks who are not physically on the team right now. Trying to project college/SEC caliber play from a rising high school QB is extremely difficult. High school QBs are often the best player on the team with a wide gulf between them and their nearest competition. HS defenses are seldom as daunting as SEC defenses.

    Marshall, as a JUCO, has college experience, however at a lower level. He has a high interception ratio, but that may be attributed to his having practically the sole responsibility for making plays. He may not have had a great O line or stellar receivers to help out. So he forced plays hoping to get something going rather than playing it safe without the chance for a gain.

    I would say Wallace or Marshall will start. Wallace knows the book and has a good head on his shoulders. He has the propensity to throw high, but that can be fixed by an observant coach. However, why is he still throwing high?

    Marshall has to be a little more conservative with the ball, and having a good O line, able receivers, and a stable of RBs to take some of the presure off of him might do wonders for his completion rating.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      Agree. I’m just not sold on Wallace. He’s a good kid, with a great head, but I just don’t buy that he’s an elite caliber SEC quarterback. Everybody loves him because he replaced Mosely last year, and did well, but we could a have put a cheerleader out there and she would have been better than Mosely.

      The most popular guy on a bad football team is the backup quarterback. I just think people are viewing Wallace as better than he actually is.

  4. TexasAUTiger says:

    Man, I really want Frazier to work out. I remember how excited I was when he committed because of him running Malzhan’s offense in high school and was highly touted as Arkansas’ Mr. Football. I think he was scarred by the last staff and don’t know if he can recover but I am hoping Malzhan can turn that around. I expected him to be making HUGE strides from last year but it sounds like more of the same, which doesn’t bode well.

    I think Wallace will get the job by default. Marshall might get some reps but not knowing the system will set him back. I like Wallace but don’t think he is good enough to take us to that elite level. Here’s to hoping Johnson isn’t a bust and can take us to that level in the near future!

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I agree except for Wallace getting the job. I expect Frazier to get his head out of his arse, or Marshall to come in and be better than Wallace. We’ll see though.

  5. AuburnEdS says:

    They don’t bring it JUCO skill players to sit on the bench

    • CapnVegetto says:

      Big, big agree. If they didn’t expect Marshall to be good, he wouldn’t be coming to the team. They would have ignored him in favor of Wallace/Frazier. The only reason he is showing up is that they think he has the potential to be better than both.

  6. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    It’s gotta be tough for any quarterback starting at Auburn. Cam’s shadow is long and those shoes are HUGE! I’m pulling for Wallace. He’s got gumption. I really like Frazier, but feel that the last staff mishandled him…grievously. I just hope we get a starter named sooner rather than later….those late summer quarterback battles are mightily fatiguing.

  7. DBAU81 says:

    Unless Marshall comes in and blows everybody away, I think it will be Wallace. Frazier is more talented but, even though the coaches may be at least partly to blame, so far he’s shown zero indication that he can succeed as an SEC quarterback. Wallace seems like the kind of guy you want with you in the proverbial foxhole, and this year we’re likely to have a lot of those “foxhole” moments. Redshirting Johnson is absolutely the right thing to do.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I agree with you, except for one thing. The same premise applies to Wallace as it does to Frazier. If Wallace is so good, why is he not the clear frontrunner after Spring ball and A-Day? Why don’t the coaches come out and say that he is the starter or that he is ahead of Frazier? There is a reason the coaches are keeping Frazier in the hunt. I still think he is salvagable. He’s just got to get some confidence.

  8. cmatt90 says:

    I agree with the general consensus. I’d love Frazier to work out, but he simply hasn’t given any indication that he can QB at this level. He is easily rattled on the field and looks scared when he plays. At some point, we have to look past his theoretical abilities, and look to what he’s produced on the field over two years. It’s just been ugly. I see Frazier as third on the depth chart by the opening game.

    Unless Malzahn makes a big mistake (or Frazier advances exponentially this summer), it’s between Marshall and Wallace. I’d guess Wallace gets it. 20 interceptions in JUCO ball is a very, very, bad sign, especially given that it’s not like we have any superstar receivers to make things easy on the QB.

    Wallace has proven to be a leader, and worst case he keeps morale up and wins some games this year while Johnson matures and learns the offense.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      I disagree with you for reasons earlier posted. I just don’t see Wallace as the answer. I see him as the anti-Mosely. He really wasn’t that great last year, but compared to what we had, he was freaking Joe Montana. I still say that if this race really was between Wallace and Marshall, the coaches would have come out and said Wallace is clearly ahead after spring ball. He’s not.

      Good players FORCE their coaches to play them, because the coaches are hurting the team if they don’t. Neither Wallace nor Frazier have done that, and I would think that the coaches would be clamoring to bring some stability to this team. Again, they are not. There has to be a reason. Wallace may be a great leader, but he’s just not that great a quarterback, and I think the coaches know this. They are keeping it open for both Frazier and Marshall as well, and seeing who steps up. If Wallace were as good as you guys say he is, especially after ending last year as the starter, he’s already be ahead of Frazier on the depth chart. He’s not. To me, that speaks volumes.

  9. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Capn I don’t see a QB controversy. We don’t have enough QB talent on campus to merit a bona fide QB controversy. I think what we currently have is a QB quandry. Maybe we can rise to controversy status when Marshall and Johnson arrive in the fall.

    • CapnVegetto says:

      Haaah!! That’s probably the most accurate description on here. We don’t have any world beaters on campus. It’s not like we’ve got a couple of awesome blue chip guys that are fighting for the position. So far, nobody has shown that they can be elite. I hope the new guys showing up can change that, though.

      • Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

        My take on Frazier is that he has high a ceiling but he competed in the least talented level of Arkansas high school football, a 1A Christian school so his college development was / is going to take time.
        I haven’t seen a whole lot of Wallace. I like his mental approach to the game. He’s tough and doesn’t appear to get rattled. He’s a gamer but I think we are pretty close to his ceiling already. I hope I’m wrong. I hope summer workouts and fall practice move the last couple of pieces of the puzzle into place for him.

  10. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I’ve resisted commenting on this subject… but I can’t hold silent any longer! And bear in mind, this in no way bashes the character of ANY of the current AU quarterbacks, or Clint or Barrett, for that matter. It’s about football.

    …..I think Jonathan Wallace, with a bit more polishing could do a similar job compared to Chris Todd, in 2009. Wallace is a better runner, but he’s got a ways to go in the crispness department. From my A-Day observations, at least he could throw the quick screens. That back-pedal, sidearm job he did towards Fulse that was picked off… that’s the sort of thing that loses games in the SEC!

    …..Frazier… sigh. He looked good at times on A-Day running the ball. His shining career moments at Auburn were running the wildcat in the Chik bowl in 2011, and A-Day 2012. Add in the throw-back reception against Monroe last year… He did not even throw the quick screens well this A-Day. Hopefully, it was just a bad day for him.

    …..Newcomers…. We can have one of several guys who haven’t QB’ed against SEC defenses. The most experienced QB of that bunch threw 20 picks last season.

    ….It’s time for our staff to work some magic!

    • CapnVegetto says:

      Mostly agree Acid. But how sad is it when we are sitting here hoping for someone that will compare to Chris Todd? Have we fallen that far?

      Every single time Chris Todd dropped back to throw the ball I was cringing. I don’t want that again. Alas, though, that may be where we’re headed. I just hope the new guys can pull something good out.