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October 11, 2011AUDIO: Eyes on Auburn Podcast- 10/11/2011
It comes with the position, Auburn quarterback Barrett Trotter said.
"I'm going to get all of the criticism when I probably don't deserve it, and all of the praise when I don't deserve it," said Trotter.
Trotter has been receiving criticism more and more this season as the Tigers' passing attack has become less and less effective. Trotter's numbers Saturday against Arkansas (6-of-19, 81 yards, 1 INT) didn't help calm the criticism, but Trotter's teammates didn't help his numbers.
Trotter was under pressure. Receivers, tight ends and running backs dropped passes. Yes, Trotter said, "sometimes it's me, no doubt."
But sometimes it's other things.
"It's a combination of things. Sometimes it's the receiver shortening the route one or two yards," said Trotter. "Sometimes it's one of the linemen not being able to hang onto that block quite as long as they might need to.
"Making sure everybody is on the same page, and we're not all of the time. Those are all problems that we are going to have to deal with. I have to deal with them and find a way to make the passing game efficient."
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn backed his quarterback and said the lack of a passing game is a result of several deficiencies.
"It's a culmination of a lot of different areas," said Malzahn. "We have to get better around him in all areas. There are some throws that he would obviously like to have back, but he's striving to improve.
"It all works together."
The offensive line must sustain their blocks. The receivers must catch the passes. And Trotter must deliver a catchable ball.
"When they dare you to pass, you have to be able to execute," said Malzahn. "That's what we have to get better at and we are working very hard to do that. When you do throw it, you have to be effective."
Something Malzahn and Trotter both hope to change Saturday against Florida.
As for the criticism, Trotter said, "You try to prepare for that as much as you can, but before you are the guy and it's going on to you, it's a lot different.
"But it is what it is. Deal with it."
Freshman quarterback Kiehl Frazier and sophomore running back Michael Dyer said Trotter has handled himself well even though the junior has come under public scrutiny.
"He's been good. He's still being a leader out there, asserting himself to get better and put us in a better position to win," said Frazier.
"But we don't really listen to the outside stuff. We are there everyday. We know what's going on with the team so we don't have to look at the outside stuff to see what's going on."
Dyer said Trotter should not be the only one being blamed for Auburn's lack of success in the passing game.
"The quarterback gets all the blame, but there is always somebody else not doing his job," said Dyer. "Barrett is a great quarterback and he's doing a great job. We appreciate everything he does for Auburn.
"We love him even on his bad days. He's a great guy and no matter what he does on the field, off the field we are still going to love him, still going to be around him and still going to treat him as Barrett Trotter.
"If you don't play on this team, if you don't wear the jersey, if you don't go out there and sweat with us, then your opinion matters to a certain extent, but it doesn't affect us."
*** When asked if he had gotten any negative phone calls or emails, Trotter, with a smile on his face, said, "No comment."
*** Frazier has continued to see his number of plays increase each week as well as his role. He rushed 13 times for 54 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas, and attempted four passes, two that were completed to the Tigers and two to the Razorbacks.
"With the team we have now, he will have his role each week, some weeks more than others. We are working hard to expand that," said Malzahn.
But the Tigers offensive coordinator is not ready to consider Trotter-Frazier a "two-quarterback system".
"I wouldn't say it's a two-quarterback system, but (Frazier's) role is expanding each week," said Malzahn. "We are just trying to give ourselves the best chance to be successful with the pieces of the puzzle we have. His role will expand, but I'm not ready to say two-quarterback system."
*** Malzahn said he expects Frazier to bounce back from the two interceptions against Arkansas.
"Those two balls he would like to have back, but he's a competitor," said Malzahn. "He was extremely disappointed. He's not used to losing and he feels like he let the team down. But he's a winner. He has winner in him. That's who he is."
*** Frazier rushed 13 times and attempted four passes at Arkansas while "backup quarterback" Clint Moseley received a last-second pass play that he completed for a 5-yard gain. But Malzahn said Moseley is still the No. 2 quarterback.
"(Moseley) gets the No. 2 reps of our main offense, probably 30 percent of the reps. He knows very clearly that he is," said Malzahn.
As for the last-second play against Arkansas, Malzahn said, "We were hoping to have a little more plays, but we wanted him to have a chance to get in the game."
*** Auburn scored 14 points in the first quarter against Arkansas, but was shut out the rest of the game. The same happened when the Tigers traveled to Clemson. Both games were losses.
"The bottom line is we can't turn the football over, especially in the red zone. That has to be corrected," said Malzahn. "We are also not very good at throwing the ball on third downs. We have to get better. We have to do a better job of holding onto the ball and a better job of not having penalties and getting the ball in the end zone.
"We need to win the time of possession. We need to run the football and that's what we're going to do. We have to get that initial first down. Our strength right now is running the football so we have to keep getting better in that area, keep improving, and keep getting first downs. Turnovers and penalties are unacceptable and that is my focus."
*** Auburn practiced for more than two hours Tuesday night as the Tigers prepare to host Florida.
"We had a solid practice. Our guys came out wanting to practice," said Malzahn. "We did a solid job of attention. We put in our gameplan today and you could tell they were really eager to see what the plan was and execute it in practice."
*** Florida's defense is giving up an average of just 115 rushing yards per game. Malzahn said the Gators' defensive line is as good, if not better, than any Auburn's offensive line has faced this season.
"They are extremely talented up front," said Malzahn. "They really play the run well. They are big and athletic up front and present a lot of challenges. Their linebackers can really run and they fly around back there in the secondary, too.
"We have our work cut out for us."
Auburn and Florida kick off Saturday at 6 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN.