April 23, 2013

NOTEBOOK: Quarterback quandary continues

AUBURN | A month of spring practice wasn't enough to draw meaningful conclusions at quarterback.

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Tuesday that returning quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace will enter the summer in a dead heat for the starting job against Washington State. Though Wallace's statistical markers were slightly better during the A-Day game last weekend, Lashlee and coach Gus Malzahn said there isn't enough evidence that one player is a better option than the other.

So that's what the record will show.

"Right now, it's kind of an either-or deal," Lashlee said. "They got equal reps throughout all the spring. They both stayed healthy. Their arms are in good shape. The positive is they've gotten a lot of reps and they got so much better from Day 1 to now -- but there's still a long way to go and they know that. The key is for them is on their own; how badly do they want it from now to August because we don't get to work with them. How much work are they willing to put in to take that next jump before we get back together?"

Leaving the job open isn't a surprise.

Frazier opened the 2012 season as Auburn's starter, though a five-turnover performance at Mississippi State all but wrecked his season for good. Wallace, a true freshman last season, took command during the final four games and exhibited plenty of moxie.

Still, he often lacks fluidity. Wallace's improvisational hop throw during the A-Day game led to a Ryan Smith interception, which elicited some disdain along the sideline. Still, coaches have praised both quarterbacks for their coachability and attention to detail this spring.

The summer could be interesting. Auburn will add an enigmatic junior-college transfer in Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson, a coveted 2013 Carver-Montgomery graduate, to the fray beginning next month. Will they be able to force their way into the derby?

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