Kiehl Frazier has spent most of the spring under heavy scrutiny from Auburn fans looking for an answer at the quarterback position.
And even though precious little information has gotten out of Auburn’s spring camp about the way Frazier’s spring has looked so far, by all accounts, the rising sophomore played well in the Tigers’ first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday.
“I feel a lot more comfortable just knowing this offense,” Frazier said. “I think I know this offense, even though we’ve only been it just two weeks, probably better than I knew Coach Malzahn’s, even at the end.”
Frazier tossed two long touchdown passes, one to Emory Blake and one to Travante Stallworth, and acquitted himself well in what was likely a showcase scrimmage.
Clint Moseley, the other quarterback with experience in the race for the starting job this spring, did not participate in the scrimmage due to a shoulder injury that continues to plague him.
On both deep plays, Frazier took advantage of missed coverages by the defense.
“Emory got deep on one, I think Erique, his eyes were probably in the wrong place or something, so EB got behind him,” Frazier said. “(The throw to Stallworth) was just kind of a play we schemed up, the defense bit on the fake and it was just a good play by Travante.”
Frazier had ice on his shoulder after practice, mainly because he’s taken a lot of reps since Moseley went down with the shoulder injury after Auburn’s second practice of the season.
“Since Clint hasn’t been throwing this past week, I’ve gotten a lot of reps, that’s kind of why my shoulders a little bit sore,” Frazier said.
- Corey Grant impressed in the scrimmage with his burst through the hole. On one, Grant broke free for a 35-40 yard gain before getting caught by Jonathan Mincy, who had the angle. “It was an A-gap play,” Grant said. “Jay Prosch, the fullback, he blocked his guy, the line did their job and it was right there. It was just up to me to hit the hole.”
- Grant loves running behind Prosch. “It’s made a big difference,” Grant said. “A big, physical guy. He’s strong, big. Most guys aren’t going to overpower him.”
- Grant also said it’s impossible to put a finger on what Auburn’s going to run on any given play. “ Coach Loeffler, he does some of everything,” Grant said. “You never know what formation we’re going to be in or anything else. His playbook is a variety.”
- Both defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and linebacker Daren Bates said redshirt freshman Kris Frost showed some ability in the scrimmage. “He had a good practice today, good scrimmage,” Bates said. “He had a forced fumble, a couple tackles. Just from watching him in the scrimmage, it’s something he can build on when we come back and watch the film.”
- Bates said Grant’s run reminded him of Ben Tate. “He had an explosive run that amazed me,” Bates said. “I know he runs a 4.2, but when I see him explode through the secondary, I think that was a heck of a run.”
- Auburn, like last season, struggled a little bit on third downs. “Just knowing who we had to get and getting pressure on the quarterback and not trying to cover for long,” Bates said. “It’s something we can build on.”
- Frazier has been impressed by Sammie Coates, who made a couple of nice catches during the scrimmage. “He’s one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever seen,” Frazier said. “Our job as quarterbacks is to get it in our playmaker’s hands, and Sammie’s definitely one of those.”
- Coates believes he has to work on catching balls in traffic. “I made some plays I was proud of and I missed some I should have made,” Coates said. “That made me kind of mad. I did a pretty good staying on my blocks for a good little while. I dropped in-traffic passes that I have to pull in.”
- Coates has full faith in Frazier at quarterback. “ It’s getting really good with him,” Coates said. “He’s stepping up and being that leader that a quarterback is supposed to.”
- Coates had some good things to say about Zeke Pike, too. “He’s catching on, getting his fundamentals down, getting his footwork right. He’s looking pretty good.”
- Clint Moseley said the injury to his throwing shoulder has affected his power. “It doesn’t have much power, as much as arm strength as I normally have,” Moseley said. “I just can’t put anything on it without it hurting. I can throw check-downs all day, and it’d be sore and hurt a little bit. But I really can’t turn it loose.”
- Moseley has been frustrated by the injury, but he doesn’t believe it hurts him much right now. “It’s not anything I’m happy about, but, at the same time, it’s spring,” Moseley said. “Everybody is learning the offense. I don’t think any huge decisions are going to be made this spring.”
- New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder doled out his first real praise of the spring to Auburn on Saturday. “I think there’s obviously inconsistencies right now, but I think we took a step forward,” VanGorder said. “A lot of the mechanics of our defense and the disciplines of our defense, I thought we were much better today. It looked like guys were a little bit more comfortable in understanding their assignments.”
- VanGorder was pleased with Auburn’s physicality in the scrimmage. “I think that from our first day in pads to what I saw today, I thought that from a contact standpoint, we were much better on contact today,” VanGorder said.
- On the other hand, VanGorder wasn’t happy about giving up big plays to Auburn’s offense. “Can’t give up explosive plays,” VanGorder said. “You know, we did that today, a couple big passes and a long run. You can’t do it and be a good defense.”
- VanGorder also would have liked to better play on third downs. “It’s not just the idea of third down, but a third-and-three is much different than a third-and-10,” VanGorder said “So today we had a couple third-and-longs where our corners, in a cover 2, were running up the flat routes and they gave up a seven-route behind them. So if you’re practicing third-and-nine, and you’re practicing third-and-10, in those long-yard situations you train yourself as a player to develop a thought process.”
- VanGorder singled out a few players for their work in the scrimmage. “I thought Keymiya Harrell played fast there at the end. Kris Frost was much better today. He did a better job. (Jawara White) did some good things at the Mike linebacker position.”
- Frost’s improvement came after a tough couple of opening practices when he struggled with alignment. “He had a tough first week,” Frost said. “The last couple days he’s settled down, which in coaching you can also find out that guys that are struggling but they’re high-character guys and it’s important to them, they usually are going to get over it.”