AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gene Chizik said freshman Jonathan Wallace is “in strong consideration” to start at quarterback against lowly New Mexico State.
It can’t get much worse for the nation’s 120th-rated offense.
Wallace was one of the few bright spots in the Tigers’ 63-21 loss to No. 16 Texas A&M on Saturday night. Starter Clint Moseley injured an ankle, and former starter Kiehl Frazier was sacked four times.
Wallace passed for 122 yards and two touchdowns and ran 13 times for 71 yards for the Tigers (1-7, 0-6 Southeastern Conference), who are off to their worst start in 60 years.
“There were times when he got out of a little bit of trouble and extended a play with his feet and made a play,” Chizik said Sunday. “I thought he was very productive, even running the football. He fumbled the ball two times last week, he came back and he was very adamant about protecting the ball every time he carried it. I thought he made very good decisions. The most impressive part to me was he stood back in the pocket when it was time to throw the football, and he made some accurate throws with some pressure around him. That was good to see.”
Auburn didn’t hold its normal Sunday practice, and Chizik said the team would focus more on evaluation and film study.
Frazier started the first five games and missed two with an arm injury. Moseley got the start in the last three, but neither has gotten the offense going.
Chizik said he needs to get an idea of the health of the quarterbacks in Tuesday’s practice before making a decision on the starter, but said Wallace is ahead of the learning curve for a freshman.
“There’s a fine line in there because the most important thing with a young guy, when you bring him in, is you give him a chance to succeed,” Chizik said. “Everything you saw him run last night is stuff we’ve worked a lot on that he gets and understands. There is a fine line, because you can’t do everything but he’s smart enough to handle more than probably the average young guy. You have to be very judicious as you choose what to give him.”
Chizik has declined to answer questions about his job security. University President Jay Gogue issued a statement last week saying he’d evaluate the program after the season, but didn’t mention Chizik.
“You’ve got to go to work and you’ve got to be focused in on what your job entails,” Chizik said. “That’s what makes college football great. When you’re great and everything’s good, everybody loves you and it’s all rosy. I’ve been on a lot of those teams, too. I don’t change and listen to it when it’s good and not listen to it when it’s bad. You do your job and that is not part of your job in this profession.”
Auburn had minus-15 yards and no first downs on its first three drives against Texas A&M, and was down 28-0 before moving the chains.
The Aggies’ 671 yards was the most ever allowed by the Tigers.
“I haven’t studied the record books exactly, but when you play in a game like that and are involved in a game like that you have to know historically it’s somewhere at the very bottom,” Chizik said. “Whether that’s at the very bottom or somewhere close you know that’s where you’re at. I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody that was involved in the game.”