AUBURN — Quarterback Kiehl Frazier’s job title is now a back-handed complement and simplification of the most important position in sports: a game manager.
Following Saturday’s 31-28 overtime win over Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler both referred to Frazier’s ability to “manage” the game.
“He was able to manage the game and made some great scrambles, made some good throws and threw the ball away, so we saw some improvement out of him, which was really positive,” Loeffler said.
Frazier was 10-for-18 for 130 yards with one touchdown and an interception, and had a 33-yard touchdown reception of a trick pass play.
On Sunday, Chizik expanded on what he feels Frazier’s role is as a passer.
“When we say manage the game, what we’re saying is that we just don’t feel like right now he can feel the pressure of having to win it on his own,” Chizik said. “He’s got to have enough help around him, and he’s got to have enough confidence in the routes and what we’re calling and the protections to be able to complete the ball and certainly convert on third downs,” Chizik added.
Frazier’s quarterback rating improved by less than eight points to 102, but is still near the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision — 122nd out of 129 qualified players. The Auburn pass offense is last in the SEC with 160.7 yards per game, and the Tigers’ total offense also ranks last in the SEC with 336 yards.
With the exception of the 33-yard Hail Mary to Sammie Coates before halftime, nearly all of Frazier’s passes on Saturday came on short routes, a trend Chizik said will likely continue as Frazier becomes more comfortable with the offense.
“We thought it was important yesterday that we get him some early success throwing the ball,” Chizik said. “Particularly on third downs, we felt like that was big. We took our shots; we wanted to take some shots with him, too.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re not trying to get a vertical passing game going, that’s not what that means. What it means is that we know we have to run the football; that always helps a young quarterback.”
With LSU and its SEC-best total defense (205 yards/game) coming to town this week, Chizik acknowledged Frazier could be put in more passing situations than he was against Louisiana-Monroe.
The challenge will be balancing what Frazier can handle with what Auburn needs to produce against the vaunted LSU defense.
“We can’t change conceptually what we’re doing with Kiehl. We’ve got to be able to give him things that he’s comfortable with, that he has confidence in,” Chizik said. “We have to be able to throw the ball vertically down the field, and we certainly have to run the football.
“However we have to create ways to do that, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|