Trotter will remain the quarterback of the 24th-ranked Tigers.
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gene Chizik delivered two messages Tuesday: He’s standing by junior quarterback Barrett Trotter, and there’s plenty of offensive blame to go around.
Trotter will remain the starter for the 24th-ranked Tigers and their sputtering offense Saturday night when Florida visits, Chizik said. The laundry list of things the coach would like to see improve certainly includes Trotter but it doesn’t stop there.
“Let me be clear on this: The receivers have got to catch the ball, the running backs and the offensive line have got to protect,” Chizik said. “It’s a team game. I expect him to play well but I expect everyone else around him to play well with him.
“Barrett is our quarterback today, and he is our quarterback Saturday.”
Trotter has been increasingly splitting time with more mobile freshman Kiehl Frazier the past few games, leading some fans to clamor for a change in starter.
Trotter was 6-of-19 passing for 81 yards with an interception in the Tigers’ loss at Arkansas and rated his own performance as “pretty bad.”
Auburn (4-2, 2-1 SEC) was playing without leading receiver Emory Blake (lower leg injury) and Trovon Reed, who was second on the team before missing the last two games with a shoulder injury.
Chizik said Blake’s status against the Gators will likely be “a gametime decision.” He’s even less optimistic that injured guard Jared Cooper will be able to play.
The Tigers had a handful of dropped passes against the Razorbacks and Trotter’s interception came on a pass that went through the hands of Benton into a defender’s arms. Chizik said the throw was “a little high” but catchable.
“That’s what college receivers do, they catch the football but it goes through our hands and it’s an interception,” he said.
Frazier, whose role is evolving from a running Wildcat quarterback, did rush for 54 yards and a touchdown while completing the first two passes of his career. His other two attempts in the game were picked off, an indication, he admits, that maybe he’s not ready to be No. 1 yet whatever some fans say.
“I definitely hear it,” Frazier said. “But that’s all coach Chizik and (offensive coordinator Gus) Malzahn’s decision. I mean, going out there, you could see that I haven’t really competed too much in collegiate ball yet, just the way that I kind of handled myself with those two passes.
“Definitely, I’ve still got a lot of learning to do, I think, before I can be in that position.”
Trotter said he was “not concerned at all” about losing his starting job.
“It is a combination of things,” he said of the offensive problems. “Sometimes it’s me, without a doubt. Sometimes it’s a receiver shortening the route maybe 1 or 2 yards. Sometimes it’s one lineman not being able to hang onto that block quite as long as they might need to. Those are all problems that we’re going to have to deal with. I’ve got to deal with all of them and find a way to make the passing game efficient.”
Auburn managed to overcome the passing deficiencies against South Carolina — including Trotter’s two interceptions — largely by handing off to Mike Dyer 41 times. He has run for 262 yards in the past two games.
The Tigers have been picked off seven times during those games, but two of them came on trick plays with non-quarterbacks throwing. They have managed only four touchdowns and one field goal on 17 ventures across midfield against South Carolina and Arkansas.
In SEC games, Auburn is averaging just 120.7 yards passing with three touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Chizik said he and Malzahn spent considerable time evaluating the entire offense’s play, and the issues “very glaring.”
“We looked hard at everything,” Chizik said. “I’m going to be very clear on this: It’s hard for any quarterback to be as productive as you want them to be if everybody else around them is at times not productive as well.
“We evaluated everything, from the offensive line to receivers, running backs and tight ends that weren’t catching the football.”
He called Malzahn “one of the best playcallers in the country” and said the Tigers will do what they think gives them the best chance to be successful, whether that’s downfield passing or more runs.
In the meantime, Trotter is getting used to his position. He paused for several seconds when asked if he had received calls or emails from angry Auburn fans then said, “No comment.”
“I’m going to get all the criticism probably when I don’t deserve it, and I’m going to get all the praise when I don’t deserve it,” he said. “That’s just part of the position.”
GAMECOCKS BOOT GARCIA OFF TEAM: Stephen Garcia won’t get a sixth chance to play quarterback for No. 15 South Carolina.
Garcia, who had been suspended and brought back to the team five previous times, was dismissed Tuesday for failing an alcohol test, a person familiar with the decision said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because South Carolina had not announced specifically why Garcia had been kicked off the team. ESPN.com reported that Garcia failed a drug test for marijuana.
The person told the AP Garcia had agreed to undergo periodic tests for the presence of any alcohol as a condition of his reinstatement.
Athletic director Eric Hyman would only say that Garcia was released after the fifth-year senior failed to meet agreed-upon guidelines.
Garcia told The AP in a text message Tuesday that he was “shocked and completely flabbergasted to be honest” by the dismissal. He said he would have a full statement later in the week.
The quarterback was suspended from all team activities in April for unacceptable conduct at a life-skills seminar. He was conditionally approved to workout with teammates in May, then reinstated fully last August just before football camp began.
Garcia started 34 games, including four this season, for the Gamecocks since arriving on campus in January 2007.
BOYD BACK AT PRACTICE FOR CLEMSON: .265Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said Tuesday he has been cleared to practice with the strained hip he injured against Boston College that appeared more severe than it turned out.
Boyd sat out Monday’s workout as he recovered from the hard hit by Eagles defensive end Max Holloway early in the third quarter of last week’s 36-14 Tigers’ victory. Coach Dabo Swinney said Boyd will get all the work with starters as the eighth-ranked Tigers (6-0, 3-0 ACC) prepare to take on Maryland this Saturday.
Boyd leads the ACC in total offense and passing yards. He threw his 15th touchdown pass in the win over the Eagles and has just two interceptions this year.