Trotter leads Auburn against Utah State
No. 23 Auburn's new quarterback Barrett Trotter doesn't stand out quite like the towering figure of his predecessor when he walks or pedals his bike around campus.
In fact, sometimes Trotter says he can pass for just another graduate student. He's now a big man on campus, just not THE BMOC like Cam Newton.
''I don't walk around with a poster or anything,'' Trotter said. ''I'm just kind of another guy walking around most of the time. Some people recognize me and a lot of people don't.''
That will soon change. Trotter will get both his first start and the first significant college experience when Utah State visits Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Like many of his teammates on the defending champions' overhauled roster, Trotter is a bit of a mystery to fans if not teammates and coaches. They've seen him in occasional mop-up duty and watched him throw all of 12 passes in the spring game but not taking the field in front of 85,000-plus fans with the game in his hands.
This much seems certain: Trotter is unlikely to alternate between bulldozing and outrunning opposing defenders with the regularity of Newton, or try to emulate the Heisman Trophy winner's style. But he can run, as evidenced by the 37 yards he gained on two carries against South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
The unassuming junior - who also is starting graduate school this fall - won a three-man battle for the starting job in preseason camp but isn't satisfied.
''I feel like I still have something to prove,'' Trotter said. ''Just winning the starting spot doesn't prove anything about how I'm going to do when I'm out there.''
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has a pretty strong track record of breaking in new starting quarterbacks. After all, he has coached six in as many seasons as a college coach.
''There may not be as many designed runs as we had for Cam,'' Trotter said. ''But we're going to stick to the same type of stuff.''
Malzahn likes Trotter's demeanor and said he ''doesn't get too high or too low.'' Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said he has noticed a change since Trotter won the starting job.
''He's been a lot more vocal just toward the whole offense, really just trying to lead us,'' Lutzenkirchen said. ''Whenever we have kind of a blank period in practice, he'll just kind of be there motivating everyone.''
Trotter is just the most high-profile new guy in Auburn's lineup. Coach Gene Chizik said the Tigers will have anywhere from 25-30 first-timers on the field against a team that has won only once in 55 matchups with Top 25 teams.
A win against a three-touchdown underdog would hardly count as proof that the decidedly new-look Tigers are back close to 2010 national champion form.
It would, however, give fans a chance to celebrate again at Toomer's Corner, where the two famous oak trees were poisoned, allegedly by an Alabama fan. Fans would be allowed to renew their post-victory tradition of heaving toilet paper into the branches, though barricades will try to keep them from trampling on the soil around the potentially dying trees, university spokesman Mike Clardy said.
Utah State coach Gary Andersen said he still expects the same old Auburn, just with different names and numbers.
''The word Auburn pretty much speaks for itself from what they did last year,'' said Andersen, who has taken over defensive coordinator duties. ''They are the national champions. I expect it to be a very, very good team.
''They have a lot of new pieces to the puzzle, but I'm sure those pieces to the puzzle are fine athletes that are very well coached. We could talk for 15 minutes about the dynamic athletes Auburn has on their team. They won't have a weakness.''
Then again, the Aggies picked off then-No. 7 Oklahoma's Landy Jones twice in last season's opener and held him to 17-of-36 passing before losing 31-24. They're still 1-54 against ranked opponents, with the only win coming 20-19 over No. 25 Fresno State in 1991.
Utah State will also start a new quarterback, either junior college transfer Adam Kennedy or freshman Chuckie Keeton. That makes this one of two opening week Football Bowl Subdivision games expected to feature two new starting quarterbacks along with Ohio State-Akron.
The Aggies return both the leading rusher and receiver from 2009 after both missed last season with injuries. Robert Turbin ran for 1,296 yards and 13 touchdowns two years ago while Stanley Morrison had 33 catches for 616 yards.
Auburn defensive end Dee Ford expects more of a finesse offense than an SEC-style pounding.
''They want to confuse you,'' Ford said. ''As far as firing off and hitting, I don't think that's what they do. And we're going to show them another sense of physicality.''