Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches the Tigers’ spring game closely Saturday.
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s Kiehl Frazier can indeed throw the ball with accuracy — and lead a huddle.
The sophomore quarterback lofted an over-the-shoulder sideline pass to Emory Blake for a 25-yard gain and zipped a couple of balls across the middle of the field for solid completions in the Tigers’ spring game Saturday.
Those throws highlighted Frazier’s 7-of-9, 92-yard performance — one that was notable since he had completed only five passes in significant playing time as a freshman.
“I’ve always felt like I could throw it,” Frazier, the offensive MVP, said. “Last year, I was a little tentative, a little uncomfortable and I probably wasn’t ready. I hadn’t caught up to the speed of the game yet. Now, I feel like I’m more comfortable and I’m ready to throw more.”
He also gained 21 yards rushing, not counting sacks, though the quarterbacks were off-limits for hitting. Running is mostly what he did last season.
Clint Moseley had similar passing numbers, going 5-of-6 for 62 yards. Moseley had been limited all spring because of a sore throwing shoulder while both quarterbacks were trying to learn new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler’s system.
The Tigers still operated mostly out of the shotgun but they also huddled between plays, a big switch from Gus Malzahn’s fast-paced offense — and from what Frazier ran in high school.
“We huddled like three times in high school,” he said.
Coach Gene Chizik said he doesn’t expect to choose a No. 1 quarterback before preseason camp.
“I’ll never put a timeline on it, but we’re not ready to pull the trigger any time soon that I see,” Chizik said.
Freshman Zeke Pike completed half of his eight attempts for 42 yards. None of the three was intercepted, and the offense didn’t commit a turnover.
The offense-led Blue team beat the defense and the White squad, 36-27, under a scoring system that awards points for things such as first downs and sacks. The announced crowd was 43,427 at an event that began with the unveiling of statues honoring Auburn’s three Heisman Trophy winners. Defensive end Dee Ford was the defensive MVP.
Moseley, a six-game starter last season, said he missed 50 to 60 percent of the spring because of his shoulder.
“It’s enough for me to label it a disappointing spring,” he said. “Especially with a new coordinator — you don’t want to be hurt.”
Moseley and Frazier both played down the competition.
“We haven’t really talked about the quarterback battle at all,” Frazier said. “We’re all out there trying to get ready. Clint, of course, had the shoulder (problem) so we really can’t tell what the coaches think.”
Chizik gave the running backs and quarterbacks similar reviews, citing inconsistency at both positions.
The Tigers are trying to replace two-time 1,000-yard rusher Mike Dyer, who transferred to Arkansas State. Florida transfer Mike Blakely showcased his speed on a 25-yard touchdown run and rushed for a game-high 65 yards on five carries.
Alabama transfer Corey Grant had a 3-yard touchdown for the day’s only other TD. Both backs sat out last season after transferring.
Returning players Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason saw limited action.
“Each guy had probably one or two decent runs,” Chizik said. “We’ve got some competition building at the position. I think they’re all aware of that. We have not arrived at that position at all. We’re still too inconsistent at that position, and we’ve got to find somebody that will take the ball and run north and south and do it physically.”
Former Auburn stars and Heisman winners Cam Newton (2010), Bo Jackson (1985) and Pat Sullivan (1971) were honored in a ceremony four hours before the game and introduced on the field before kickoff.
Jackson said it was his “first A-Day game in a long time, 20-something years. It brings back old memories. I wouldn’t want to go out there and play, though.”
Sullivan, now coach at Samford, was grateful for the honor.
“There may be others that deserve it more,” he began, “but from the bottom of my heart, none of them will appreciate it anymore.”