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Sunday, Apr. 17, 2011

Auburn football A-Day game: Quarterback spot remains open on the Plains

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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AUBURN, Ala. -- There was nothing in Auburn’s defense-dominated spring game Saturday that showed a clear separation between the two quarterbacks vying for the No. 1 position.

The coaches essentially said as much afterward, anticipating the quarterback battle between Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley to continue into August.

“Until we know who gives us the best chance to win and it’s 110 percent, we won’t make the call,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said.

Trotter and Moseley split reps evenly but neither shined at Jordan-Hare Stadium on A-Day, which ended in a 63-32 victory for the defense using Auburn’s reward-based scoring system.

Trotter, a junior, went 6-for-12 for 120 yards, throwing the game’s only touchdown, a 19-yard strike to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen on the opening drive, and completing a 48-yard deep ball to wide receiver DeAngelo Benton.

Moseley, a sophomore, was 9-for-15 for 82 yards and no scores. He was sacked five times, although many plays were whistled dead after defenders barely touched his jersey.

“I think that they are very similar right now in nature,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said. “I think probably the thing that stands out most after going through the past 14 days is the inconsistency from both of them. That is what we are trying to get out of our quarterback position right now.

“We are trying to find someone who can manage the game and manage the team and protect the football and things of that nature.”

Chizik said the competition will likely continue into August, with no designated No. 1 quarterback heading into the summer.

That could give highly-touted signee Kiehl Frazier, who was in attendance Saturday, an outside chance of wowing coaches during two-a-days.

“We don’t really know what to expect,” Moseley said. “With coach Malzahn, it’s all on him. We just do the best we can and just whenever he makes his decision, he’ll let us know. But we just do everything we can until then.”

Auburn’s revamped offense, which must replace eight starters, looked out of sorts. The quarterbacks -- Trotter, Moseley and walk-on Logan Paul, who worked mostly with the second team -- went a combined 22-for-40 for 268 yards. The team punted eight times and had three fumbles during the third quarter, losing one of them.

“There was some good and bad. In between, there was some bright spots,” Malzahn said. “We’ve been rotating some people in and out, so it was hard to get a lot of rhythm.”

The Tigers were admittedly “vanilla’ on offense. Malzahn didn’t take too many shots down the field and opted not to dig too deep into his bag of tricks.

“You don’t want to give any of those teams, especially the early (season opponents), any kind of indication of anything,” he said. “At the same time, you try to make it fun for your fans to show up.”

Taking advantage of the mostly basic play-calling, the defense dominated the day.

“After you go against the same defense all spring, it’s difficult when they know your stuff over and over again,” Trotter said. “They say it’s hard to beat a team twice. Well, we’ve been playing that same defense for 12, 13 (practices) straight now. So it can be difficult.”

The Tigers scored one offensive touchdown Saturday compared to four in a split-team format last year.

Chizik thinks the fans should take one thing away from that.

“That they really need to study our scoring system,” he joked. “Don’t read too much. Here is what you need to take away from it: don’t read to deeply into the score.”

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