Why Kiehl Frazier Should Be the Favorite to Win Auburn's QB Battle

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMarch 26, 2013

Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier
Auburn QB Kiehl FrazierDaniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

During spring practice last season, all of the talk was how Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier had picked up on then-offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's offensive scheme and was poised for a breakout season in his sophomore year on the Plains.

Then the season started, and we quickly realized that he wasn't prepared at all and that Loeffler's offensive scheme was essentially the same five plays over and over again—none of which seemed to work all that well.

After eight interceptions and only two touchdowns in the first five games, Frazier was pulled in the middle of the Arkansas game in favor of Clint Moseley and never regained the starting job.

True freshman Jonathan Wallace eventually wound up taking the first-string snaps at the end of the season, but a new staff and scheme means that the job is wide open when spring practice starts on Wednesday.

Frazier should be the favorite over Wallace.

The two share similar dual-threat capabilities, a trait that plays well in first-year head coach Gus Malzahn's offense, but Frazier's upside is significantly higher.

You wouldn't know it from his time as starting quarterback last season, but he was a very successful passer in high school running a system similar to Malzahn's. He tossed for 2,975 yards and 42 touchdowns as a senior for Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale, Ark., rushed for 1,164 yards and 24 touchdowns and was named the USA Today National Offensive Player of the Year in 2010.

It was clear from the moment that he stepped on the field last season that his head was spinning, and Auburn's lack of a functional offensive scheme certainly played a part. According to Frazier's Twitter feed, he's using last season's failure as motivation this spring.

Hate being a disappointment #neveragain

— Kiehl Frazier (@kiehlfrazier10) March 6, 2013

One of his biggest issues last year was decision-making. In the game in which he was pulled, Frazier completed 9-of-14 passes for 118 yards in the first half. But he took four sacks and looked apprehensive in the pocket in the process, which ultimately closed the book on his days as the 2012 starting quarterback.

Now that he's back in a scheme that fits him better—one that he wasn't given much of a chance to succeed with in 2011—his comfort level will increase. That makes it much more likely that he will realize his potential this spring.

He better, because it's also probably his last chance to become Auburn's starting quarterback.

With Alabama's Mr. Football Jeremy Johnson, junior college transfer Nick Marshall and dual-threat quarterback Jason Smith joining this summer, it's unlikely that Frazier will get another chance if he's unable to separate himself from Wallace this spring.

It's going to be a battle this spring between Frazier and Wallace, and if neither separates then the door is wide open for one of the newcomers to win the job.

Considering Frazier's upside and comfort in offenses similar to the one that Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee employ, consider him the favorite until further notice.