Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gene Chizik said the focus of Saturday’s practice was getting another look at young players on Auburn’s football roster. One of the rookies, Jonathan Wallace, was a busy quarterback as the Tigers worked out at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn’s coaches are getting the former Central High star from Phenix City ready to play if needed this year. With Zeke Pike kicked off the team earlier this summer, there are only three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. One of those players, junior Clint Moseley, is working around a sore throwing arm, something that has bothered him going back to spring training.
“We ran a couple of plays today with us young guys,” Wallace said in more than a small understatement.
“We really got a lot of time out there to just feel what it’s going to be like,” he added. “I believe, like I’ve said before, there’s a lot of room for improvement and we’re going to continue to work hard.”
Wallace has received praise from his coaches and teammates throughout the preseason with how quickly he has picked up his assignments. He has also won praise for his work ethic.
The freshman said that when he goes out on the field he tries not to think too much and concentrate simply on executing his assignment for each play. “I just take my time, but of course don’t take too much time, go out there and give great effort. That was the biggest thing and I believe I was able to do that.”
Wallace also said he is enjoying the preseason. "I am having a lot of fun out there," he said of practice.
Offensive tackle Greg Robinson complimented Wallace after Saturday’s practice, saying the quarterback is “a young leader” and “a really smart guy.”
“The coaches acknowledged him for learning the plays so fast because he came in later in the summer,” Robinson pointed out. “He really came a long way. He’s really smart and knows what he’s doing. He is a real talented guy.”
Saying he and the other quarterbacks have been working hard to improve all summer, Wallace noted he believes the offense has improved in recent weeks at everything it is trying to do. That includes the offensive line, where there has been a lot of shuffling of players from position to position the past three weeks as the Tigers prepare to play Clemson.
“I really have a lot of faith in our line,” Wallace said. “They’re going to continue to grind. That’s one thing that they’ve been doing since this summer is just grinding out, trying to get better.”
The Tigers will not return to practice until Tuesday, but Wallace said it’s only a break physically. Saying he can still improve mentally, the quarterback plans on studying the playbook to be ready to execute his assignments as the Tigers change their focus to putting in the game plan for the season opener.
The young quarterback makes it clear that he needs to improve in all areas. “I don’t know everything yet,” he said. “I’m a freshman.”
Chizik said the coaching staff will also be studying, thoroughly evaluating what took place in practice this week at quarterback and at other positions. “We are definitely going to name a stater (at quarterback) before gameday,” he said. “It is going to happen."
The coach noted that none of the quarterbacks have stepped forward and clearly won the No. 1 position. Asked if it was because the quarterbacks are all performing well or because they are performing not so well, the coach said, “I think it lies somewhere in the middle.”
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