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Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011

Auburn football: 1 starting QB needed; 2 scrimmages conducted; still 3 contenders

- abitter@ledger-enquirer.com
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn’s second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday provided another strong evaluation tool for the coaches in their quest to find a starting quarterback.

But, despite the fast-approaching season, a decision still doesn’t appear imminent.

“We’re more in the mindset of when we feel like there’s a guy who has separated himself, and we believe he is the one who gives us the absolute best chance to win, then we’ll settle in on that guy,” head coach Gene Chizik said.

The field remains at three, with junior Barrett Trotter, sophomore Clint Moseley and true freshman Kiehl Frazier all getting looks in Saturday’s scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Trotter and Moseley had limited work, splitting reps with the orange (first-team) group. By design, Frazier got the majority of snaps with the blue (second-team) group.

“The challenge we have right now, and it’s a really good problem for us, is we feel like we’ve got three guys who can play the quarterback position,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said.

“Our two older guys, like I’ve said before, they know the offense extremely well. Kiehl, you see him coming on better and better each practice with knowing what’s going on. So they’re making it tough. That’s a good problem that we have three quality guys.”

Would Malzahn consider using a two-quarterback system?

“Never have before,” he said, not saying whether he’d consider it.

The goal Saturday was to stress the players, specifically by picking up the pace for the first time this August. It separated those who have a good understanding of the offense from those still a work in progress.

“At that pace, you really can’t think about anything,” Trotter said. “You basically are just reacting to what you already learned and know, and it’s really kind of set in stone. When you really start trying to think out there when you’re pacing, you’re really behind the game because it’s moving too fast for that.”

Trotter, as the veteran of the group, had no problems with the pace. But he wasn’t worried about himself.

“It’s making sure that the other guys are always in the right spot and knowing what to do,” he said. “So it’s not just whether I know what to do. It’s me knowing what I’m supposed to do and everybody else and getting them in the right play and right position and ready to go.”

Frazier, who now has participated in 11 college practices, wasn’t overwhelmed. Although players and coaches kept almost all details of the scrimmage under wraps again, Frazier had at least one touchdown pass, tossing it to fellow freshman Jaylon Denson.

He said he handled himself well, despite the speed at which things were coming.

“(Malzahn is) just trying to help us learn the playbook, so the best way to do that is to kind of go with the pace and repeat it over and over again,” Frazier said. “So we just kind of saw how fast we could go. … I didn’t have any trouble today.”

Like the rest of the quarterbacks, Frazier doesn’t have a sense of where he is in the competition -- nor, he claims, does he pay much attention to it -- but he said he thinks he is ready to contribute this year.

“I’ve still got a lot of learning to do,” he said, “but, if I had to, I think I could get out there.”

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