“Awful” is the word. If you asked me to use just one to describe Kiehl Frazier’s play last Saturday vs. Mississippi State that’s the word I would choose. There are others that may fit, but most of them move from evaluating the sophomore’s performance to simply taking personal shots at a teenager who truly was doing the best he was able to.
Frazier finished the day 13-22 passing for 125 yards. But he also threw three interceptions, fumbled twice and padded the stats in garbage time during the final seven minutes of the game by completing eight straight passes. In the 4th quarter Mississippi State’s defense was allowing the underneath routes and Frazier responded with completions of 7, 8, 10, 8, 8, 8, 6 and 17 yards. It’s a very poor afternoon for a quarterback when he totals 13 of 22 for 125 yards and the reality is he wasn’t nearly as mediocre as those stats suggest.
The opener vs. Clemson was much of the same: 11-27 for 194 yards and one touchdown and one pick. Anyone who has watched him these first two weeks would agree that the stats are a poor indicator to just how ineffective Frazier has been and, at times, how outright lost he has appeared on the field. So, we’ve settled it: Frazier isn’t at the level of a starting QB in the SEC.
Following the loss in Starkville, however, Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he never considered replacing Frazier with Mosley and certainly wasn’t tempted to take the redshirt off freshman Jonathan Wallace. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said he was 100% of the same mindset. To put it kindly, most Auburn fans didn’t agree. And when they have expressed their opinions on the subject since the game ended, putting it kindly wasn’t a priority for them.
Only two weeks into the season there are already calls for junior Clint Mosley to take over the starting job from Frazier. Heated, mean-spirited calls. Fans are angry about losing. Columnists have barrels of ink staring at them and need to write articles that may actually stir interest in their declining readership. Anyone with a computer, internet connection and a basic understanding of Google Blogger knows the only way to draw attention to independent on-line posts is to be mean, meaner and meanest. Thus, the level of vitriol from virtually anyone with an opinion on Auburn and who its starting quarterback should be.
But there is a problem with the, “Frazier stinks, put in Mosley!” line of thinking: those same angry fans and same just-thankful-to-be-employed columnists and same “Look at me!” bloggers all criticized Chizik during last season for not simply trotting out the talented freshman and leaving him in the game, good or bad, so that he could develop. Even more so in the off-season the criticism flowed from all concerned parties. “If Auburn was going to struggle anyway, why not just play Frazier, take some lumps, but be better for it in the end.” It appears that Chizik is doing that exact thing as the 2012 season starts and now he’s being criticized for that, too.
Perhaps Chizik knows there is some truth in what the masses have said. Perhaps his plan is to scribble “Frazier” onto the lineup card for 12 games this season, come what may. Perhaps he’s taken a look at the SEC West and realizes that best case scenario his team is a 5th place finisher in the division this season, maybe even lower than that. Just maybe he’s doing the precise thing most fans, columnists and on-line bloggers railed him for not doing earlier. Maybe.
The bottom line is when you get the truth out of most of us, we simply want to win. Frazier, Mosley, go find Pat Washington and see if he has some eligibility remaining. We don’t care who the starting quarterback is, we just want to win.
The criticism of Frazier’s play so far? On target. He’s not ready to play in this conference and really isn’t even close. Frazier panics in the pocket, doesn’t trust his instincts and is horrifyingly inaccurate with even easy throws to open receivers on short and intermediate routes. But the overwhelming majority of opinions after last season focused on one thing: the offensive coaching staff should have let Frazier play much more than he did and his lack of development is squarely in their laps. If that’s what Chizik is doing in 2012, you’re a hypocrite to now criticize him for it. You simply can’t have it both ways.
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