The first year of the Gene Chizik Era without Gus Malzahn at offensive coordinator begins with uncertainty at quarterback.
The favorite to be the starting quarterback at Auburn appears to be Kiehl Frazier. He was the Wildcat formation quarterback last year as a freshman. He showed much more poise and accuracy in the spring, and that combination along with his natural athleticism could make him a solid player at the position.
Returning starter Clint Moseley was not a full strength during the spring, so that's something to consider regarding the Tigers' quarterback compeition.
This from Joel Erickson, who covers Auburn for the Columbus, Ga., Ledger-Enquirer: “Moseley’s stretch as a starter for the last half of the season was so-so. At times, he was good (Ole Miss), but he struggled against the SEC’s top defenses.”
Indeed, Moseley was good against the Rebels, which put him in a category with many other quarterbacks against a unit that ranked 83 in pass defense efficiency, 90 in total defense and 96 in scoring.
The Auburn game was one of a handful within the SEC in which the Rebels were competitive and, for a time, inspired hopes of victory from their fans.
At Auburn, the game was 17-17 at halftime, but the Rebels could not sustain a drive in the third quarter and allowed Auburn to do just that.
The Tigers scored 14 points in the third to take control of the game, in spite of Houston Nutt's best effort to reverse the Rebels' trend of slow second-half starts. As I recall, the Rebels came out of the locker room early and did some extra warm-up drill prior to the start of the third quarter.
Auburn is entering its fourth season under Chizik. The first three produced a 30-10 record and a Cam Newton-led national championship.
The Tigers followed up their championship year with a 43-24 win over Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
They return seven starters on offense, nine on defense. Five starters were held out of spring drills or missed significant playing time. Linebacker Jawara Wright was contending for a starting job but was forced to quit football because of an injury.
Malzahn, now the head coach at Arkansas State, has been replaced by Scot Loeffler. Auburn has a new defensive coordinator as well, former Georgia coordinator Brian Van Gorder.
Speaking of that Auburn defense, the scheme is new, but all the players aren't. Charles Goldberg writes that All-SEC end Corey Lemonier is someone opponents need to keep an eye on.