AUBURN, Ala. – With each passing game without thrilling the masses, Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier takes more pressure from the outside world.
With two weeks to dwell on a tough defeat to LSU, Frazier knows the fan base is growing anxious.
“I mean, yeah, it’s something that around campus, and whenever you go someplace, people will say this and that, but I don’t really take it personally,” Frazier said. “Winning, that’s the expectation at Auburn, and if you don’t do that, then people will be talking about it. So right now, we’re 1-3, so there’s a lot of people off the bandwagon, but if we do what we need to do these next couple of games, then a lot of people will get back on.”
Frazier, one of the nation’s lowest-rated quarterbacks, was even the subject of former Auburn coach Pat Dye, who told the Montgomery Advertiser Wednesday, “I don’t think he’s scared physically, but he’s scared mentally to make a mistake. Our quarterback — bless his heart — I think he’s going to be fine, I really do, but he ain’t ready to play right now. We got to go through the pain of watching him get there.”
Frazier’s body language after mistakes – as well as his follow-up drives – has led to the question of his mental game in adverse periods.
“I think he’s very tough on himself,” head coach Gene Chizik said. “When you’re a quarterback and you’re a competitor, you’re probably your biggest critic. I think Kiehl knows and he sees that there’s a lot of improvement left out there for him as well. But he’s a competitor. I think all quarterbacks are hard on themselves.”
Added Frazier: “I don’t try to dwell on it. I’ll beat myself up for a little bit, but you always have to leave that stuff in the past and go out and produce on the next drive.”
Frazier struggled early on with staring down receivers while keeping his eye on pass-rushers, something the sophomore said he has cleaned up.
“I have complete faith in my offensive line,” Frazier said. “We watched every clip, and I probably got rushed, to where I probably need to scramble, only three times in the last four games. The O-line’s doing a really good job, and it’s something I’ve got to keep working on, but it’s not as bad as it was.”
Frazier said he’s fine with Wallace’s enlarged role within the offense.
“Anything that’s good for our team, that’s good with me,” Frazier said. “Kind of did the same thing last year, and Jon did a great job in his role Saturday.”
Frazier’s next opportunity comes against Arkansas. He played at Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark., 10 minutes from Fayetteville.
“I think it’ll be fun just to play against the hometown. I’ve got a whole lot of family coming,” Frazier said. “I’m not going to treat it differently, I’m going to treat like any other game because it’s an SEC game and it’s one we need to win.”
Finish the job: Two weeks ago, the buzz word was ‘urgency’. On Sunday, it was ‘finish’. Auburn has been outscored 31-3 in the fourth quarter this year.
“It’s the opportunities that we have to capitalize on at the right times,” Chizik said. “That’s how you finish games. It’s been very revealing. We’ve got to continue to work and try to capitalize on the opportunities we create.”
Holsey’s big play: After a critical pass break-up on a deep ball to LSU’s Russell Shepard, Auburn freshman cornerback Joshua Holsey has emerged on the scene on defense after previously impressing with his special teams play.
“You’re looking at the evolution of a young guy starting to learn the defense and play with confidence,” Chizik said. “That one post he stayed on top of and he didn’t have any help — that was a big play. That was one of their best receivers — if not their best receiver. The more you make those plays, because they don’t come often, the more confidence we have in them as coaches.”
Holsey could be in line for more playing time in the rotating turnstile of defensive backs.
“Just being a playmaker,” Holsey said of his role. “I do what they tell me to do, my assignment, and I try to have a good time doing it. Right now that’s coming in on the nickel package.”
You’re the man: Patrick Miller is officially the starting right tackle, having wrested the job from fellow true freshman Avery Young.
“For his first game ever starting against LSU, Patrick did a really, really nice job,” Chizik said. “He tried to play physical. He’s got room for improvement — like our whole team does. I’m very proud of him.”