But coaches say scrimmage doesn’t determine starter
By ANDY BITTER
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s annual A-Day scrimmage was a quarterback showcase Saturday.
Neil Caudle picked apart an extremely vanilla defense with underneath throws and check downs. Barrett Trotter struck it big with a long touchdown pass early. Cam Newton, some think, didn’t get a true chance to showcase his abilities. And Clint Moseley didn’t get on the field until a largely meaningless second half.
What does it all mean? According to the coaches, nothing.
“What we were going to do was rotate our quarterbacks accordingly. However that unfolded, it unfolded,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said after the Blue team’s 21-17 victory. “Some guys threw more than others. … Don’t read anything into that.”
With one practice remaining Monday, the Tigers’ coaching staff, publicly at least, is no closer to naming a starter than when spring drills began 3 1/2 weeks ago.
“I think, like we’ve been saying all along, once we’re 110 percent for sure,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said, echoing a similar refrain. “Whether that’s at the end of (spring practice) or whether that’s in fall camp, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
All four quarterbacks had their chance to play in front of an announced crowd of 63,217 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Caudle, the senior, completed 17 of 21 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown to Quindarius Carr. Most importantly, he avoided throwing an interception, a chronic problem throughout his career.
“I think I did good,” he said. “I didn’t put the ball in jeopardy and threw the ball fairly well.”
Trotter, a redshirt sophomore who missed last year because of a knee injury, went 7-for-9 for 154 yards and two scores.
He hit walk-on wide receiver Nathan Taylor in stride for a 50-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring and connected with Terrell Zachery on a short pass that the receiver broke for a 44-yard score.
“I haven’t been able to do much (my first two years),” Trotter said. “I’ve been on the sidelines watching and learning a lot. It’s been a big help to come out this spring and really know the offense pretty well and be comfortable before I had to actually run it a lot.”
Newton, a junior college transfer who is the presumed frontrunner for the job, entered the game to a loud ovation from the crowd but wasn’t offered many opportunities to showcase his ability.
He threw only five passes, completing three of them. One was a 61-yard deep ball to Carr to set up a scoring chance. But Newton missed on two potential scoring throws, overthrowing an open Jay Wisner twice in the end zone.
“I thought it was a good enough pass, but Jay, my height and his height are two different levels,” the 6-foot-6 quarterback said. “It shouldn’t have even come down to the second one. I should have made that throw nine times out of 10.”
Newton brushed off a question suggesting the coaches’ play-calling for him was intentionally bland to temper expectations.
“I didn’t see it,” he said, smiling widely. “The only thing holding me back is that I just had this orange (no contact) jersey on.”
Moseley, a redshirt freshman, didn’t play until the teams split into offense vs. defense in the second half. He went 10-for-12 for 55 yards but was largely unnoticed.
“I was so relaxed knowing that I didn’t get in during the first half,” Moseley said. “I had no other option. I had to play well.”
Chizik reiterated that the team is in no rush to name a starter, suggesting the competition could stretch into the fall like last year.
“We know that we want to as quick as we can, name a starting quarterback, but we don’t feel the pressure to do that right now,” he said. “We’ll do it like we did last year: when we’re ready and when we feel like it’s time. And we’ve done a very extensive, comprehensive study on who that guy needs to be, then we’ll name it.”