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Decision Time for Auburn Coaching Staff

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Rarely in life do things go as planned. The exception appears to be this Auburn football season. So far everything has gone about like the pundits predicted. Take away last week's win at South Carolina and Auburn is following the road map to .500 football.

Now Auburn coaches face the inevitable fork in the road. We suspected the time was coming. The question is simple to ask, yet hard to answer. What does Auburn do about its quarterback situation?

The easy way out is to pile on starter Barrett Trotter. But if you watched Saturday's loss at Arkansas you know Auburn's offensive troubles are far more complicated than one person. The reality facing this offensive unit is obvious. They lack the experience to compete at the top levels of the SEC this season.

The truth hurts.

Things are not going to magically change in the coming weeks. Auburn caught a break in beating Miss State and South Carolina - teams that were far less than advertised in the preseason. The same may hold true when Florida comes visiting Saturday night.

Coaches must now answer the question of who best can lead Auburn to wins over Florida, Ole Miss, Samford and Georgia. The other two contests are seemingly out of reach. Let's be honest.

There's little doubt that freshman Kiehl Frazier is the quarterback of the future; but as witnessed Saturday night, that time may not be now. Do you stick with an experienced by comparison Trotter who clearly lacks the skills to be a top flight SEC quarterback or do you give the keys to Frazier today and take your lumps the rest of the way?

Another option is to give scout team legend Clint Moseley a shot. Is that wise heading into games with Florida and LSU? Does it matter? The final choice is to continue the dizzying rotation of Trotter and Frazier in hopes that it'll keep defenses off balance. With six weeks worth of film to watch, the effectiveness of such schemes will likely diminish.

What can't be lost in the debate is who'll catch the passes. With DeAngelo Benton and Quindarious Carr failing to live up to the hype, Auburn needs someone other than Phillip Lutzenkirchen to be its downfield threat.

Emory Blake's return this week is far more important than who plays quarterback. Those inside the program say it's 50/50 at best that he'll play against Florida. Trovon Reed's status also remains unclear.

At yesterday's press conference, Auburn coach Gene Chizik remained committed to Trotter - sort of.

"Today, Barrett Trotter is our starting quarterback," said Chizik. "Obviously we'll spend all day today, we'll spend all day tomorrow evaluating all of our positions on our team just like we do every Sunday and every Monday. And we'll go from there. But today, Barrett Trotter is our starting quarterback."

That's hardly a ringing endorsement.

At the end of the day, Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's options appear to be limited. Clearly, Frazier is not yet ready to take on SEC defenses through the air. Trotter is no threat to run the football and his passing is not much better. For now, his experience probably tips the scale in his favor - barely.

A loss to Florida and LSU in the coming weeks may mark the end of his career as a starting quarterback. That's a decision for another day.

My guess is we'll see more of the same this weekend. Look for a heavy dose of Michael Dyer with a sprinkle of Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason for good measure. Malzahn will throw only when he has to against the Gators.

It may work or it may not.

At this point, what's a better option? That's an answer best determined by someone way above my pay grade.

Good luck coach!