Auburn QBs take competition into spring game

Published 12:30 am Saturday, April 17, 2010

AUBURN (AP) — The Auburn coaches have spent three weeks and 13 practices trying to settle the four-man quarterback race.

Now, the Tigers will add a twist to the competition: Spectators.

The quarterback group that includes junior college transfer Cam Newton and Neil Caudle will compete one more time in Saturday’s A-Day spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“I think that it’s going to be really important because I just want to see them operate in front of a lot of people,” coach Gene Chizik said Friday. “I want to see them execute in more of a game setting than we’ve probably had all spring. I think for all four of them it’s going to be a nice test.”

But will it be the final exam or just a midterm with the battle extending into fall camp?

Auburn will hold a final practice on Monday. Chizik said there’s no pressure to whittle it down to three, two or even one.

“We think that we’ve rotated them the right way, we think that we’ve really gained enough information to start working in the direction of paring that down when we’re ready,” he said. “We’re going to gather all the information in the last two practices, and we’ll kind of get together after that and make a decision.”

For fans, it will be the first chance to see Newton, a former Florida backup, sophomore Barrett Trotter and redshirt freshman Clint Moseley. Caudle is a senior but has only attempted 28 career passes.

Center Ryan Pugh said the offense has progressed slowly with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn dividing practice repetitions among four quarterbacks.

“All four quarterbacks are battling,” Pugh said. “That’s to be expected, and it’s to be expected to not be able to find a rhythm sometimes in practice when you’re rotating four quarterbacks.

“I think coach Malzahn understands that. It’s not something he’s really holding against us.”

Quarterback is hardly the only ongoing position battle. Junior college transfers Roszell Gayden and Brandon Mosley have been vying for the right tackle spot.

Chizik said T’Sharvan Bell has made a challenge at cornerback, where Neiko Thorpe returns and Demond Washington is back at his normal position after moving to safety because of injuries. Bell, who also was moved to safety last season, made two interceptions against Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.

Defensive ends Michael Goggans and Nosa Egaue are in competition. The list goes on.

“Definitely there are some young guys at receiver that have made some pushes,” Chizik said. “I think there are going to be some interesting battles going into the fall. Safety, there are going to be some great battles there. Really and truly with linebacker it’s going to be interesting in the fall because there were a lot of guys who weren’t allowed to go through a whole lot of spring due to injuries.

“There are going to be some new guys in there vying for playing time at the linebacker spot, too. Going through our team there’s a lot of different positions in terms of competition.”