AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s three healthy quarterbacks rotated evenly throughout Saturday’s scrimmage, perhaps for the last time.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said he hopes to narrow down the Tigers’ wide-open quarterback race between Kodi Burns, Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter to two names this week, the last of the spring practice session.
“We should have the information we need,” Malzahn said.
Malzahn conceded that the quarterbacks’ performance in Saturday’s passing-intensive, 70-play scrimmage was “a little bit ugly” but added that it was somewhat expected for rotating in so many different bodies under center and at receiver.
Head coach Gene Chizik has said since the start of spring that he may not be able to distinguish a starting quarterback from the three taking snaps and senior Chris Todd, who has not participated in throwing drills after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. But he likes the group’s progress.
“I think what they’re getting a good grasp of is what it’s really like when the bullets start flying — no two-hand touch,” Chizik said. “That makes a difference. That’s the only way they can really prepare for what’s real. … That’s invaluable to them at this time.”
Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor is hesitant to dole out too much praise, but he couldn’t help himself when it came to junior Tim Hawthorne, who by all accounts has been impressive this spring.
“He’s coming into his own, guys,” Taylor said. “I’m really proud of that kid because boy has he been beat up. It’s important to me that it’s important to him. He’s understanding that now. He’s taken a leadership role.”
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Hawthorne has established himself at an outside receiver spot this spring, despite catching just eight passes for 203 yards last year. Saturday, he made a nice catch over the top of the defense, Taylor said.
“He certainly hasn’t arrived, but he’s departed,” Taylor said. “He’s on his way. Some of them haven’t even left the ground, but at least he’s in the air right now.”
Hargrave transfer Onterio McCalebb bounced back after fumbling on the decisive play of last week’s scrimmage. Despite still being bothered by a hamstring injury, the freshman running back had a couple of big runs in the first half, including one that went for more than 50 yards.
“He’s still not 100 percent, but he’s pretty explosive,” Malzahn said.
Harry Adams showed off the speed that made the coaches think he would be a valuable asset at wide receiver instead of cornerback, but the sophomore also showed signs of inexperience only two days after the switch.
Adams got around 15 reps Saturday, giving the Tigers a deep-ball threat they have been sorely lacking at wideout. But he also didn’t come out of a route correctly on one play, leading to Neiko Thorpe’s interception return for a touchdown off of a Caudle pass.
“We just switched him to offense two days ago so he really didn’t know what to do on the route,” Burns said.
Countdown to A-Day
Auburn’s annual A-Day scrimmage is less than a week away, but Chizik said the format will depend on how many healthy bodies the Tigers have heading into the game.
The game begins at 2 p.m. on April 18 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Auburn Ticket Office located in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or on game day at the stadium. It will be televised by CSS.