August 18, 2011
Yea, as it was prophesied long ago, so it is done: Junior Barrett Trotter has been named Auburn's starting quarterback for the upcoming season, beating out sophomore Clint Mosley and touted true freshman Kiehl Frazier. The new question: Has he been chosen as a deliverer from the overwhelming attrition that decimated last year's championship team, or as a sacrifice to it?
The Trotter file, briefly: He stands 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, he was a nondescript three-star recruit out of Birmingham in 2008, he attempted nine passes in 2010 in garbage-time relief of starter Cam Newton and — most importantly — he's not Cam Newton. Trotter may be a nice guy and a good athlete, but next to a statuesque, once-in-a-generation talent who ran away with the Heisman Trophy voting, willed an otherwise ordinary-looking team to the BCS title and was snapped up with the first pick of the NFL Draft, well… let's just say there aren't going to be any reports about anyone offering him a six-figure payment for his services.
Worse than the comparison to his Herculean predecessor, Trotter inherits an extremely green lineup that's also replacing four senior offensive linemen and three starting wide receivers. But he is going to be working under good management: Five years and six starting quarterbacks removed from his leap from the high school ranks in Arkansas, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has still yet to encounter a QB he couldn't milk for 30 points per game.
This time, that mission is likely to revolve much less around than the quarterback than the complementary talents of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, who combined for more than 2,000 yards last year in Newton's shadow and bring the same thunder-and-lightning dynamic that McCalebb and Ben Tate brought to the table in 2009, for an attack that finished second in the SEC in total offense and third in scoring. The quarterback on that offense was the infamously pedestrian Chris Todd, whose surprising competence in Malzahn's system stands as a beacon of hope for anyone talented enough to earn an SEC scholarship. That's one bill Trotter does fit.