ATLANTA -- Barrett Trotter took the snap, slid to his left, waiting for Emory Blake to run a deep crossing pattern. Trotter led him perfectly for a 50-yard gain.
The poise Trotter showed as he calmly moved to his left, the patience he exhibited as he waited for Blake to clear cornerback Demetrious Nicholson and the arm strength on the pass was impressive.
It also showed a quarterback playing with plenty of confidence.
Three plays later Auburn scored a touchdown, taking the lead for good in a 43-24 Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Virginia at the Georgia Dome.
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Trotter entered Saturday night’s game only after starter Clint Moseley suffered a right ankle injury and could not return.
The last time we saw Trotter on the playing field prior to Saturday night was the end of a dismal first half of play against Florida.
Despite the fact the Tigers went into intermission of that game with the lead, the Auburn coaches were disappointed enough in Trotter’s play that he was benched in favor of Moseley.
Trotter had started each of the first seven games and the Tigers went 5-2 in those games. He had solid games to open the season against Utah State and Mississippi State.
But then his stats and his confidence started to do a nosedive.
By the Florida game, Trotter looked confused and unsure of himself and the Auburn offense.
Since that game Trotter has been listed as second on the depth chart, but it was Kiehl Frazier who was the only other quarterback beside Moseley to take a snap.
It appeared Trotter was done as far as the Auburn coaches were concerned. It was not like Moseley played well in his five starts.
The Tigers went 2-3 in those games and were absolutely overmatched in losses to LSU, Georgia and Alabama.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik said earlier this month that he had talked with Trotter, who has another year of eligibility, about his future but declined to go into details.
Until Chizik hires a replacement for departing offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, there is no way of knowing if Trotter fits into the next Auburn offensive system.
The Trotter on display Saturday night would likely fare well in more of a pro-style offense, but Chizik hasn’t tipped his hand at all on what kind of a coach and offense he wants in 2012.
And while Trotter’s numbers were not that impressive Saturday night-- 11-of-18 for 175 yards and a touchdown -- his demeanor was. At no time did Trotter appear confused or rattled. He looked like a completely different player than the one who was eventually benched in the Florida game.
Of course, as good as Trotter looked, one has to wonder how much of it had to do with the opponent. Virginia’s defense would never be confused with the best of the SEC.
Kevin Price, 706-320-4493