So, what’s the Auburn coach’s game in deadpanning his quarterbacks publicly and holding off on naming a starter so close to the Sept. 1 season opener?
Could it be that he wants to undersell sophomore Kiehl Frazier’s progress to opponents? If so, then Chizik might be overselling his undersale.
It seems especially odd when we hear that junior Clint Moseley, believed to be Frazier’s top competition, continues to have shoulder issues and reportedly saw limited action in Saturday’s partial scrimmage. How can there be the lack of separation Chizik keeps citing in the quarterback race?
Even if healthy, Moseley didn’t exactly show vast untapped upside during his 2011 starts, and Auburn suddenly played better in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after he left the action.
Frazier is the one believed to have untapped upside.
We keep hearing Chizik praise true freshman Jonathon Wallace. Wallace reportedly took second- and even a few first-team reps in Saturday’s scrimmage, but c’mon.
Auburn lost the true freshman contender it had in spring when Chizik sent Zeke Pike home, and Pike stayed home. If the next true freshman in line wins the job, then Auburn was worse off at quarterback than anyone realized.
It’s hard to imagine the true race extending beyond Frazier and Moseley. After a spring practice that saw Moseley miss time with his shoulder issues and Frazier show flashes of improvement as a passer, Frazier sure looked like the leader.
We’re told Frazier has continued to take most of the first-team reps in August, so what’s up with Chizik’s continued reluctance to name a starter?
What’s up with Chizik’s public expressions of dissatisfaction with his quarterbacks, the latest coming Friday?
He hired a wunderkind quarterback doctor as an offensive coordinator, so does Auburn not have a quarterback that even Scot Loeffler can mold into an SEC winner?
Chizik sure makes it seem that way, and closed practices and scrimmages keep outside eyes from seeing what he sees. We only hear what he says, and he keeps saying he needs to see more before naming a starter.
He’s saying that less than two weeks from kickoff, and one can only guess why.
Chizik might want to keep Auburn’s first opponent guessing. Frazier and Moseley have different skill sets, but then Clemson’s coaches aren’t dumb.
Maybe Chizik wants to keep his quarterbacks motivated, but then they’re not dumb, either. They see who gets the first-team reps.
Maybe he wants Moseley to at least believe he had every chance. Moseley got pretty emotional when losing the job to Barrett Trotter a year ago and didn’t exactly hide his disappointment.
Or maybe it’s just like a year ago, the last time we kept hearing about a lack of separation between Auburn quarterbacks. Turns out, there wasn’t much separation between Trotter and Moseley. Both started about half of the season, and neither had much for the best defenses they faced.
Trotter broke the tie with his performance against Virginia in Atlanta, aided by having a healthy Emory Blake in the pass pattern.
As for Frazier, he was the guy ex-Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn would only let run and throw screens. Could it be that Frazier’s passing really hasn’t improved as much as he seemed to show in A-Day, against a defense missing many of its starters?
It’s hard to say, because outside eyes only saw A-Day, which is always a watered-down affair precisely because the public is watching.
What we know is that Auburn stands less than two weeks from kickoff, and Chizik hasn’t named a starting quarterback. What’s more, he has publicly muddied a race that had a leader in the eyes of most fans, and he has vented disappointment in the race’s progress.
Chizik is a head coach with a national championship on his resume, but he’s not exactly Darth Visor. He has a defensive background, and fans don’t hear a cue to roll their eyes when he deadpans his quarterbacks.
Given that and what we saw a year ago — the last time we heard all of this no-separation talk — Chizik isn’t doing his signal caller or offensive coordinator any favors. He’s planting seeds that lead to boos in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Maybe Frazier will have a breakout year, and Chizik will get kudos for ruse of the year. No one saw Chizik winning a national title when he came to Auburn with a 5-19 career record.
Then again, maybe we’ll hear catcalls and howls for yet another midseason change at quarterback. That won’t go over so well, considering that Chizik sold a risky coordinator hire on Loeffler’s strength as a quarterback guru.
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.