Auburn reserve quarterback Kiehl Frazier (Fr. QB) has heard the stories about the intensity of the Iron Bowl. He understands that for a season to be truly successful, Auburn must prevail when the schedule hits Amen's Corner. That being said, forgive the freshman if he puts Saturday's game at Arkansas on equal footing with Auburn's two biggest rivals.
Saturday night is as big as it gets for the Springdale, Arkansas native. The kid who grew up running around the house with a red Razorback hat on during fall Saturday's is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. He'll suit up and play at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the first time when Auburn calls on tenth-ranked Arkansas at 6 p.m. CT (ESPN).
Taking an approach similar to what Florida'sfollowed during his freshman campaign, Frazier is seeing his role expand gradually each week - primarily in the Wildcat formation. One thing has already been established - the kid has wheels.
Frazier has carried the ball 13 times for 81 yards. His biggest carry came late in the fourth quarter last week at South Carolina where he converted a 3-and-2 to keep Auburn's winning drive alive.
"You'd expect a little bit of jittery, but he was calm and collected," said offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. "Fourth quarter, third-down-2, and you'd have thought we were out there practicing."
While Frazier may have moved up a level in competition, tucking and running still comes as second nature. During his final three seasons at Shiloh Christian (Ark.) he rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and 51 touchdowns. Despite only 13 carries this season, he's already starting to draw comparisons to - wait for it - Cam Newton.
It's a comparison that both Malzahn and Auburn coach Gene Chizik refuses to discuss. Both insist Frazier remains the number three quarterback behindand .
Ask point blank this week whether Frazier would be Auburn's go-to person should Trotter go down with injury, Chizik was quick to put on the brakes.
"I don't think that he's there," Chizik said. "We're going to give him the things to do that we feel like he can succeed at. We won't give him any more than that. We won't expand it beyond anything we think it's going to give him anything less than a chance to be successful. We're not going to do it."
Known as a dual-threat quarterback, fans have yet to see the other half of his arsenal. Frazier has dropped back to pass only twice, one resulting in an incompletion and the other a sack. Malzahn says the passing attempts will come.
"He can throw it," Malzahn said. "And we'll definitely let him do that."
Chizik says he's not worried about Frazier's throwing ability. He sees it every day in practice. What's most important to Chizik is building the freshman's confidence.
"I talked to him (last) week and made it very clear that when you get in the game, you just need to be you," Chizik said. "If we ask you to throw the ball, that's why you threw for 10,000 yards in high school. Throw the ball and be.
"If we ask you to the run the ball, be confident, get as many yards as you can get and protect the football. Don't be tight. Just relax and go out there and play.
"I think he's becoming more confident as the games go on. With that, we'll do whatever we feel like he can do in terms of expanding his role."
As for Frazier, he knows it takes time to earn the trust of Auburn coaches.
"Coach Malzahn and coach Chizik have to be comfortable with me going out there and they have to believe in me being able to complete the pass," Frazier said. "I think that's coming pretty soon. Hopefully, they'll have the confidence in me to throw the ball."
His chance may come at home Saturday night.
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