Despite Gene Chizik’s constant reminders that the starting quarterback job is still “up for grabs,” the reviews coming out on Kiehl Frazier this summer continue to be sparkling.
From his leadership to his arm strength, Frazier appears to have impressed his teammates, including Auburn’s star senior receiver
“If I didn’t know Kiehl, I wouldn’t think he was the same guy, because he’s changed that much,” Emory Blake said. “He’s always had a big arm. Even last year, he was throwing darts, but his progressions and his reads have been so much better that it’s given us new confidence.”
Frazier, always a quiet kid as a freshman, has also grown up a lot in one year.
Enough to impress his other key receiver, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who figures to be Auburn’s No. 2 target this season behind Blake with the addition of Jay Prosch at fullback.
“Kiehl has gotten a lot better from last fall to where he’s at now,” Lutzenkirchen said. “Coach Loeffler’s a big part of that. Kiehl has taken that leadership role. Last year as a freshman, trying to lead in the offense, he wasn’t comfortable doing that, but now he sees it as an opportunity. He’s gaining everybody’s respect with what he’s done this offseason.”
Lutzenkirchen, a team captain and leader, has noticed Frazier’s willingness to accept blame.
“If something goes wrong, he takes the blame,” Lutzenkirchen said. “It’s the quarterback’s offense, and that’s the quarterback’s job.”
And he has always had the physical skills. From the time he got here, Blake noticed that Frazier had a cannon for an arm, an arm so big it reminds the senior receiver of another Auburn quarterback.
“He knocks you down with the ball,” Blake said. “Probably the strongest arm I’ve ever seen on a quarterback. When Cam first got there, he was throwing hard, but I don’t know if he was throwing it as hard as Kiehl is.”
- Blake, on the fallout from the shooting in early June: “It hit us hard,” Blake said. “You know, Coach Chizik did a great job of providing counselors, pastors, whatever it took, to try to get guys feeling better.”
- Coming off of a torn labrum, Lutzenkirchen was cleared to play roughly two months ago, and he’s excited to get back to full action. “I got cleared two months ago to give 100 percent,” Lutzenkirchen said.
- His role in the offense will change. Used out of the backfield a lot last year, he’ll have his hand on the ground a lot this season. “I’m playing a traditional tight end, but I’m not sure what a traditional tight end is anymore,” Lutzenkirchen said. “In this offense, I’ll have my hand down on the ground as a pro-style tight end, I’ll be used out of the backfield as a fullback and I’ll be split out wide. Like I said, it’s difficult to define what a tight end is.”
- Prosch helps open up Lutzenkirchen’s role. “Having Jay down at Auburn is going to be good, not just for me but for the whole offense,” Lutzenkirchen said. “He gives us that power run blocker that we haven’t really had.”
- A lack of senior leadership hurt Auburn last year, according to Lutzenkirchen. “Last year, in the offseason, we were expecting a senior to step up and lead the team, and we never really got that,” Lutzenkirchen said. “Halfway through the year, it fell to me and Emory Blake to lead.” The two receivers are trying to emulate the example of Cam Newton and Lee Ziemba as leaders.
- Blake thinks Lutzenkirchen being used as a receiver will be huge for the offense. “He’s going to cause a lot of defenses havoc,” Blake said. “Now we’ve got Jay Prosch back there, it’s a totally different system, and Loeffler’s going to use him more as a receiving threat.”
- Asked if it bothers him that some people see Auburn as a problem school in terms of behavior, Blake responded by saying that there’s only a few. “The behavior of 80 guys shouldn’t questioned over two or three,” Blake said. “It does bother me, because we’re not a group of thugs.”
- Mississippi State has taken Auburn to the wire two years in a row, and Blake is conscious of that. “They’re a tough, physical team, and we always get them early,” Blake said. “I expect it to be another close game. They prepare well for us.”
- As for Blake, the biggest difference in Loeffler’s offense is that he’ll be a lot harder to find. “I’m probably going to be in a lot more places,” Blake said. “Last year, I was more to the boundary, and now I’m going to be all over the field.”
- Blake also said that he’ll watch Arkansas State when they’re on TV. He still feels loyal to Gus Malzahn, who recruited him to Auburn out of Austin, Texas.
- Corey Lemonier said he’s gotten his weight up to 250 pounds after playing at 240 last season.
- Lemonier has faced some questions about playing against the run, but he said he’s been working on it, and that it’s not so much a size thing as it is a matter of technique. “During two-a-days, really focusing on my technique,” Lemonier said.