Auburn Football: 5 Reasons the Kiehl Frazier Era Should Start Versus Ole Miss
I recently comprised two articles on the quarterback situation at Auburn University. During the interaction with the readers of those articles, several good questions arose. Moreover, during my article, SEC Football: Top 10 SEC Fall Positional Battles and Predictions, I predicted that Frazier would become the starting quarterback for the Tigers on October 29th, 2011.
I will use this article to list five reasons why I believe this would be the best decision for the Auburn football team. As I have stated in my predictions for the Auburn football team, I believe Auburn will finish in the ballpark of 8-5 this season.
The future of the Auburn Tigers is bright but this will be a season of transition. Much like the Florida Gators, who lost four games the seasons in between their two national championships under Urban Meyer. However, how they handle this season will be the difference in a championship-potential run or a mediocre 2012 season.
No. 1: It Brings Frazier Along Slowly but Still Prepares Him for 2012
When predicting the date Frazier will become the starter for the Tigers, you must remember this is not like the situation that UGA had last season with Aaron Murray.
Murray was able to start in the season opener because the team had 10 returning starters on the offensive side of the ball. It is also not like Alabama this season because they have an experienced offensive line. Auburn is a team that will be opening the season with completely new offensive and defensive units.
As a result, there are too many new receivers and linemen that will need to gain experience before starting Frazier at quarterback. The best solution is to bring him in on various series' during the first eight games.
He should also receive a minimum of 20 minutes in both the Utah State and Florida Atlantic games.
Each game that the receivers and linemen gain experience increases the likelihood of a successful start for Frazier. The running backs are already in place. However, it is not going to benefit the Tigers in 2012 for Frazier to hand the ball off every play.
In this scenario, he can receive playing time that will serve as valuable preparation.
No. 2: Frazier Will Miss the Most Difficult Part of the Schedule
Last season, the Tennessee Volunteer fans patiently watched as coach Derek Dooley threw Matt Simms to the wolves for the first eight games of the season. Once the difficult part of the schedule was over, he inserted Tyler Bray as the new Vols starter.
The last four games of the 2011 regular season for Auburn will not be the cakewalk that Tennessee experienced in Memphis, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. However, they will be much easier than the first eight games of the schedule.
Auburn will be the underdog in a minimum of five of their first eight games. More likely, they will be underdogs in six of the first eight games since Clemson is a road game. If they come out of the first eight games 4-4, it is a success and 5-3 would be overachieving.
No. 3: 5 Weeks of Preperation for 2 Tough Games
With eight games now completed, four remain on the regular-season schedule. Those four games are Ole Miss, Georgia, Samford and Alabama.
At first glance, that looks daunting with both UGA and Alabama on the schedule. However, a closer look gives a different insight.
Ole Miss is a game that Auburn should win regardless of who the quarterback is. Then, they have a week off before they face Georgia. This gives coach Gus Malzahn two weeks to come up with a scheme to attack Todd Grantham's defense. Not to mention, UGA will have no idea what a Frazier-led offense will consist of.
After the UGA game, Auburn will have a homecoming game against Samford. While this is listed as an official game, it is equal to another bye week. This will give the Tigers two more weeks of preparation before they host Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In all, Auburn should have almost five-weeks worth of preparation for two difficult games.
No. 4: Similarities Between the Alabama and UGA Defenses
The five weeks of preparation become much more beneficial for Auburn when you consider that both Alabama and Georgia run a 3-4 defensive scheme. There are some variations in their defense but there are several similarities as well.
One of the things that has made the 3-4 defense so successful for the Crimson Tide under Nick Saban is that opposing teams have limited time to prepare for it during the season.
Until last season, the Tide were the only SEC team who used this alignment as their base defense. As a result, opposing quarterbacks were thrown off when players were in positions they were not accustomed to seeing.
Using this extra time to prepare for the 3-4 will be very beneficial to Auburn—especially against Alabama because the offensive unit will have over a month of preparation during practice.
Only four teams scored over 20 points on the Tide's defense last season. Three of those four (South Carolina, Arkansas and Auburn) had played UGA just a few weeks prior.
While this does not guarantee success, the added practice time clearly increases the likelihood.
No. 5: Bowl Preperation as the Starter
Regardless of how the UGA and Alabama games turn out, Auburn will be bowl eligible. This will allow coach Gus Malzahn to have another month of preparation with Frazier. Make no mistake about it, getting bowl reps as the starting quarterback is much more beneficial than getting bowl reps as a backup.
The Auburn coaching staff's time during bowl preparation with Frazier will be both of the most important practices of the season for the Tigers. If Frazier is able to take command of this offense at the end of the season, Auburn will become serious SEC contenders in 2012.
In 2012, the Tigers will have a very favorable schedule and a much more experienced football team. As a result, the sky, once again, is the limit.
This article is not an attempt to be repetitive. However, this is a decision that will not just lay the foundation for next season. Instead, this season could secure the quarterback position at Auburn for the next three seasons.
In this scenario, Auburn will not lose anymore games this season than they would with one of the other current quarterback options. However, they will be poised for great things the following season.
This is a win-win. If Auburn loses to Alabama and Georgia, it was expected by most anyway. However, if they win one or both of those games, Frazier is on his way to legendary status.
I have seen Frazier in person several times and I am convinced that he is a perfect fit for the Malzahn system. He has all the intangibles and the rest of the SEC will be praying for an early entrance into the NFL draft after his junior season.