Considering Auburn's offensive ineptitude last season, it should be no surprise that the unit will look vastly different when the Tigers line up for their first game of the new season on Aug. 31 against Washington State.
The latest sign of the process of change is that junior Kiehl Frazier, who started five games for the Tigers under center last year, will be playing safety in 2013.
Kiehl Frazier wanted to and moved to safety today. "I'm very proud of Kiehl Frazier. He's a winner, a class act," Malzahn says.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) August 12, 2013
Malzahn on Frazier: "He's going to be full-time safety. He can still do some things on offense, but he's putting his energy into safety."— Ryan Wood (@AUBlog) August 12, 2013
While there were once dreams of the highly touted Frazier being Auburn's next dominant quarterback, the fact the he decided to make this switch is a sign things are moving in the right direction for the program under new head coach Gus Malzahn.
For starters, Frazier was awful last season after beginning the year as the starter.
The Tigers went 1-4 in Frazier's turn as the main man under center. He attempted 116 passes and only completed 53.4 percent of them. Furthermore, eight of those passes were completed to the wrong team, which looks even worse considering that only two of his passes went for Auburn touchdowns.
Frazier's poor play and lack of progress wound up costing him the starting job last year, as he was sent to the bench in favor of true freshman Jonathan Wallace and the more experienced Clint Moseley. Both young men went on to post vastly better quarterback ratings than Frazier.
So, it should be encouraging for Tigers fans to hear that Frazier is making this position change after being out of contention for the starting quarterback job. So is Wallace for that matter, according to The Auburn Plainsman on Twitter:
Malzahn says he and OC Rhett Lashlee have decided to give newcomers Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall most of the reps in the QB race.— The Auburn Plainsman (@TheAUPlainsman) August 12, 2013
Both Johnson and Marshall are newcomers to the program. Johnson was a big-name recruit this past offseason and Marshall is a junior college transfer who amassed more than 3,100 passing yards last season.
It is good news that these two young men have been playing well enough to take control of the quarterback position.
Who will be Auburn's starting QB on Aug. 31?
However, there is another key detail in this switch that bodes well for the Tigers, and that is the fact that Frazier wanted to do this instead of transfer to a new school.
While this is just the sentiment of one player, it suggests that Malzahn has created an environment that players want to be a part of. That is no easy task for a program that is coming off a 3-9 season and didn't win a game in conference play.
There is also the chance that Frazier will be able to make a positive impact on defense. He has the size at 6'2'' and 224 pounds and the athleticism to stick at safety. He also played the position in high school at Shiloh Christian in Arkansas:
It remains to be seen if he will be able to succeed as a safety in major college football, but the fact that he wanted to stay at Auburn and attempt the switch is a bit of good news for a program that needed some.