Frazier, Wallace adapting to Auburn's new offense
by John Zenor, The Associated Press
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – Kiehl Frazier is trying to abide by former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's advice to forget about last year.
It should help that Frazier and Jonathan Wallace - who both started games last season - are operating with a new but familiar offense and coaching staff during the Tigers' spring practice.
The chance to get counsel from Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and the Carolina Panthers' quarterback, doesn't hurt either. Newton has been taking classes at Auburn during the NFL's offseason and Frazier said he runs into him two or three times a week.
"He's like, `Forget about last year. This is an offense that I did well in and you can do well in, too,'" Frazier said Saturday.
"I know I can be a good quarterback in this league," he added. "I've just got to step up and do it."
He and Wallace are locked in a two-man competition for the starting job this spring, but that race will widen significantly in August when junior college signee Nick Marshall and prep standouts Jeremy Johnson and Jason Smith report for preseason camp.
For now, they're the Tigers' only scholarship players at a position where the team has struggled since Newton's one-year stopover en route to a national title.
Auburn held its first practice in full pads Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Tigers implement coach Gus Malzahn's no-huddle, spread-style offense. Both players said they're still trying to get the tempo up to Malzahn's liking.
Malzahn recruited Wallace and was Auburn's offensive coordinator during Frazier's freshman season when he was used mostly in a Wildcat quarterback role.
Wallace played in a spread system in high school and had to adjust after both struggled at times running a pro-style system last season.
"It's just part of the game as far as getting a new coordinator," Wallace said. "Coach Malzahn, he knows what he's doing. It's just up to us to study everything every day and just do what they're telling us. That's the biggest thing, is details. We have to pay attention to details. As long as we're able to do that, we'll be fine."
Both quarterbacks have worked on their weight during the offseason. Wallace said he has put on about 10 pounds, up close to 210, while trying to maintain his mobility. Frazier said he's lost 10 or 15, down from 230 during the season.
Malzahn offered a tepid review of their performance on Saturday.
"There was some good and there was some bad," he said. "A lot of it, you know, anytime you go first day in pads, and you've got three days under your belt and you're playing a lot of inexperienced guys, there's guys that are not in the right place, or guys that don't block and so sometimes it makes the quarterback look like it's really ugly. But overall I'd say it was an average day for them."
Frazier struggled with turnovers and other things last season before losing the starting job, and he had shoulder problems.
He said his confidence ebbed during that time but that he never considered transferring - especially after Malzahn was hired as Gene Chizik's replacement.
"Whenever I committed I knew I was going to stay at Auburn through my four years so I knew whoever we brought in I was going to stay here," he said. "It being coach Malzahn was kind of a pleasant surprise because that's who I expected to play for when I got here. I think everybody's happy that coach Malzahn's back."
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