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Saturday, Apr. 16, 2011

Auburn football: A-Day will have bland schemes but still should be a spicy show

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Players will try to impress at A-Day

By ANDY BITTER

abitter@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn won’t pull out all the stops at A-Day this afternoon, preferring to keep things vanilla while still putting on a decent show for its fans.

But today’s 3 p.m. showcase at Jordan-Hare Stadium still will be a valuable evaluation tool for the coaches.

“The offense isn’t going to do everything they’re going to do, and we’re not going to do everything we’re going to do next season,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said. “But it’s certainly an important day because you have an opportunity to get better.”

It won’t be the spring finale -- the Tigers have a review session Monday that will serve as their 15th and final workout -- but today essentially will be the last chance for players to make an impression on coaches heading into the summer.

“We do have so many young guys, so many inexperienced guys,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “A lot of them, it’ll be their first time in front of a crowd. See how they react and see how they respond.

“And a lot of them, they do either one of two things: Either they step up and rise to the occasion or you can see the nerves. So we’ll find out a lot as coaches to see where we’re at and see if they’re ready.”

That’s especially true of quarterbacks Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley, who have played to a virtual draw in the competition to be the No. 1 option heading into the summer.

They will split reps as equally as possible with the first and second teams today, when Auburn goes offense vs. defense, using a point-based system that rewards accomplishments (first downs, three-and-outs, big plays, etc.).

Malzahn said in March that he would like to have a No. 1 quarterback option coming out of spring drills but added that he wouldn’t force a decision. He didn’t sound Friday as though a decision is imminent, saying he will meet with head coach Gene Chizik after A-Day to review the quarterbacks’ entire spring.

“There’s been days that one of them plays better than the other and vice versa,” Malzahn said. “Just to be completely honest, it’s been fairly close. In my mind there’s not a whole lot of separation. At the end of it, we’ll look at every practice, we’ll look at every snap and we’ve been charting completions, touchdowns, interceptions, fumbles, everything and we’ll take all that into account.”

Malzahn didn’t rule out Kiehl Frazier, a highly touted quarterback signee from Springdale, Ark., who won’t arrive until the summer and can’t practice under the coaches’ watch until the first few weeks of August.

“All the freshmen will have to impress us early,” Malzahn said generically. “Probably a nine, 10-practice deal that they’ll have to come on.”

But Saturday will be Trotter and Moseley’s showcase, a chance for two guys who haven’t done much in their careers in front of a Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd to test their mettle.

“This is a bigger stage than we’ve been on all spring,” Moseley said. “(Malzahn) will want to know how we handle it if we throw an interception in front of everybody.

“Are we going to be more down than we normally would be? If we score a touchdown, are we going to let it get to our heads? I think it will play a lot into it, but A-Day is not going to decide the winner or the loser of the race.”

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