Auburn Spring Game 2013: Recap, Grades and Analysis
New head coach Gus Malzahn's offense was operating efficiently for the Auburn Tigers in Saturday's spring game, as the Orange squad scored all of its points in the first half of a 35-14 victory over the Blue.
This is precisely why Malzahn was hired for the job after serving as coordinator in the program's most recent national championship run.
Quarterback Kiehl Frazier was a highly touted recruit with designs to run the show as Auburn's next star signal-caller but suffered a horrific 2012 campaign.
That has him competing with Jonathan Wallace for the starting quarterback job.
Who will win the Auburn quarterback job?
Wallace then threw an interception later in the first quarter, and Frazier fumbled an exchange with running back Patrick Lymon.
Junior college transfer Cameron Artis-Payne responded with a 27-yard touchdown run, as all of the running backs ran strong.
However, play picked up under center near the end of the quarter. Frazier found Trovon Reed for a nine-yard TD on a bubble screen and then scampered in from seven yards out on an impressive 75-yard drive thereafter.
Wallace responded well by slinging a 28-yard TD pass down the sideline to Dimitri Reese to keep the Blue side within 28-14. He then jumped over to the Orange and shredded the Tigers' second-team defense for another touchdown drive, finished by Tre Mason on a four-yard run.
AuburnTigers.com senior writer Charles Goldberg logged Wallace's sparkling first-half statistics:
First half Auburn A-Day stats: Jonathan Wallace 10-of-13 passing for 112 yards and two TDs— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) April 20, 2013
The most interesting anecdote about this game, though, was the ejection of sophomore defensive back Jonathon Mincy, as AP sports writer John Zenor initially documented:
My friends in Auburn say cornerback Jonathan Mincy ejected. From a spring game! That's like getting kicked out of your own wedding.— John Zenor (@jzenor) April 20, 2013
As Chip Patterson of CBS Sports reports, Mincy drew a flag from the officials after a "targeted" hard hit on Reese and was asked to leave the game. Such an instance is extremely rare, but apparently, Mincy was a little too eager for this exhibition.
The Tigers faithful packed Jordan-Hare Stadium with a record attendance for the annual A-Day showcase of 83,401, and the team's official Twitter account captured the scene:
Big crowd for Auburn's A-Day... lots of points, too: twitter.com/AUGoldMine/sta…— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) April 20, 2013
Auburn has to be pleased with the signs of success from its quarterbacks, even if this game is relatively meaningless.
Cameron Artis-Payne: A+
It looks as though the turbulence under center in Auburn will at least be supplemented with a promising stable of running backs.
Artis-Payne looked the best, running for 76 yards on 13 carries for the Orange and 41 yards on just five carries for the Blue. That included a 27-yard TD run to knot the game at seven apiece early.
That should give him some carries in 2013 along with Tre Mason.
Justin Garrett: A
The linebacker-safety hybrid plays a position in Ellis Johnson's defense known as "Star," and he is taking maximum advantage of it.
Garrett made plays all over the field on Saturday and definitely has the makings of being a breakout stud as a junior after just one start in his first two years.
Kiehl Frazier, QB: B
Other than the first-quarter turnover, Frazier played relatively well.
Having said that, he did show some spotty accuracy, finishing 7-of-12 for 79 yards. Ultimately, though, he guided two touchdown drives and can't be too disappointed with how the afternoon went.
Jonathan Wallace, QB: B
The pass that Kyle Smith picked off was thrown off of Wallace's back foot, as he tried to misguidedly fit it between three Tiger defenders. Other than that horrible blunder, the freshman was impressive and proved that he could bounce back from adversity.
Having said that, those types of passes simply can't happen against opposing defenses in the SEC if Wallace is meant to be the starter.
Note: Statistics obtained from SCACCHoops.com unless otherwise noted.
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