The intense battle has come down to a pair of quarterbacks—Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley—who saw significant playing time last season.
Both Frazier, who impressed on the ground but not through the air, and Moseley, who finished the season 3-3 as a starter, have experienced their share of ups and downs.
With one season of SEC experience under each of their belts, the Tigers expect to see more consistent QB play from their starter this season, whoever he may be.
While fans count down the days until Auburn’s September 1 kickoff, many wonder, "Who deserves to come out on top in this tight race?"
And the truth is—it’s hard to tell, because each contender does some things better and some things worse than the other.
Auburn QB Clint Moseley
Last season, in Gus Malzahn’s run-and-gun offense, an accurate quarterback who could deliver quick, precise passes was key.
Clint Moseley proved his accurate passing ability a number of times in that offense.
His most impressive performance coming in a Week 9 matchup against Ole Miss in which Moseley completed 80 percent of his passes and tossed four touchdowns.
Though Malzahn is no longer patrolling the sidelines of Jordan-Hare Stadium, Scot Loeffler’s pro-style offense will also require an accurate thrower—a role that Moseley has proven he can take on.
Last month during the SEC media days, few players were talked about as much by their teammates as Kiehl Frazier.
One of the most memorable quotes about the young quarterback came from Auburn wideout Emory Blake.
Blake spoke of the sophomore’s throwing ability, saying he throws so hard that “he knocks you down with the ball.”
The senior receiver went on to say Frazier “probably has the strongest arm [he’s] seen on a quarterback.” This includes Blake’s father—former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake—and the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton.
When in high school, Frazier was known to launch the ball 55-plus yards in the air—and though these passes did not come against SEC talent, they did show that this young man has a cannon.
Moseley’s rushing totals and abilities pale in comparison to Frazier’s. As a freshman, Frazier rushed for over 300 yards and drew many comparisons to former Auburn QB Cam Newton.
Frazier boasts a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, which would rival even receivers and defensive backs at many Division I programs. The speedy quarterback also happens to weigh over 220 lbs.
This combination of size and speed, though not quite “Newton-esque,” is very impressive and makes for an extremely mobile signal-caller.
Frazier’s ability to produce as a dual-threat player is a “wild card” in this position battle. This aspect of quarterbacking remains the most distinguishing factor between these two competitors.
Though the answer to this question may seem obvious to some, each quarterback can argue he has the edge here.
Moseley has taken significantly more snaps and attempted almost 10 times as many passes, but he has not done so in the current offensive system.
After injuring his throwing shoulder in March, Moseley watched Kiehl Frazier take the starting snaps for nearly all of spring practice.
Frazier spent this time familiarizing himself with Scot Loeffler’s new pro-style offense—an offense in which physical reps are more important than mental ones.
Ultimately, there is nothing like consistently lining up against the nation’s best defenses when it matters most. The experience that Moseley acquired in the last seven games of 2011 will give him an advantage in the fall.
In the end, Frazier will come away with the starting job.
The younger passer displays the potential to—one day—become a top-tier quarterback in the nation’s best conference.
His combination of size, speed and throwing ability is very rare. It is what made him the 2010 High School Offensive Player of the Year; it is also what will allow him to win this position battle and lead the Auburn Tigers into the 2012 season.