published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Auburn makes progress on offensive identity

Kiehl Frazier played in all 13 games as a freshman quarterback last season at Auburn, and he competed for the starting job this spring under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
Kiehl Frazier played in all 13 games as a freshman quarterback last season at Auburn, and he competed for the starting job this spring under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
Photo by Associated Press.

Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said at his January hiring that he has pro-style and spread in his background and that he would base his style on personnel strengths.

So what are the Tigers after 15 spring football practices? Head coach Gene Chizik wouldn't define the offense Tuesday during a league teleconference, but he said the workouts were put to good use.

"I don't think there is any question we definitely have closed the gap on our identity and what it is that we want to be able to do," Chizik said. "Scot's background is a little bit of pro-style and some old school with Michigan in his days there with Lloyd Carr and then going to the NFL and getting that flavor. Then he was able to do some of the same stuff with [Tim] Tebow at Florida that we were able to do here.

"We're going to come up with our own package and our own identity, and we're going try to get good at just a few things, but we've certainly moved forward in finding out exactly what we can and can't do."

Junior Clint Moseley, who made six starts last season, battled sophomore Kiehl Frazier for the starting quarterback job that remains unclaimed. Each had a productive A-Day game, with Frazier completing seven of nine passes for 92 yards and Moseley hitting five of six for 62.

The Tigers are not hurting at tailback with senior Onterio McCalebb, sophomore Tre Mason and redshirt freshman Mike Blakely, and the team is more experienced overall despite nearly 70 percent of the roster being underclassmen. Auburn went 8-5 last season and 4-4 in league play, sustaining the four losses by a combined 125 points, but the Tigers produced a feel-good finish with a 43-24 trampling of Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

"We did that without our starting tailback [Michael Dyer] and without our starting quarterback [Moseley]," Chizik said, "and defensively some of our young guys really came around in that game. That propelled us into having a very good and very efficient offseason. Our guys are young, but they're eager."

The right choice

League coaches agreed that Arkansas made the right hire by bringing in former Michigan State and Louisville coach John L. Smith following the firing of Bobby Petrino. Smith coached special teams and outside linebackers for the Razorbacks during the 2009-11 seasons before leaving to coach Weber State, a post he held four months.

"Obviously it's an unfortunate situation, and we always tell our guys the choices and decisions that you make will make you who you are," Florida's Will Muschamp said. "I don't know John L. personally, but he's been there and is familiar with their situation. I think they made the best decision schematically where they are and with what they have coming back."

Said Tennessee's Derek Dooley: "I have a lot of respect for Coach Smith as a head coach, and he certainly did a great job for them on special teams. It was no surprise to me that they went in that direction."

No hangover here

LSU's Les Miles doesn't look back at last season with any kind of hangover.

The Tigers were ranked No. 1 for most of the season and set a school standard with a 12-0 regular season. They fell flat in New Orleans, however, with a 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS title game.

"There is an understanding that we had the best record in college," Miles said. "We were 13-1. We won the conference, and we won the Western Division, and we frankly beat the national champions in their home stadium. They recognize that they achieved greatly but that they didn't play well in their last game.

"I think there is a real hunger and want to start the season, and any time you finish the season on a negative note, you turn to the opener with some anxiousness, and that's very much the case here."

Odds and ends

Tennessee's opener Aug. 31 against North Carolina State in Atlanta on ESPNU will not be the biggest game nationally that night: ESPN announced it will televise Boise State's game at Michigan State. ... Muschamp said that junior defensive end Ronald Powell underwent surgery for his torn ACL on Monday and that "If anybody can come back [for this season] it will be Ronald." ... Mississippi State will wear all white at home Nov. 3 against Texas A&M to commemorate its 43-41 overtime win over the Aggies in the 2000 Independence Bowl, which is often called the "Snow Bowl."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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