Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier will face a critical test when the Tigers play against Arkansas on Saturday, October 6. As reported by Charles Goldberg at AL.com, all eyes will be on Frazier when he faces the Razorbacks at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Among those watching for clear signs of improvement will be Auburn head coach Gene Chizik.
"We're hoping that Kiehl is significantly improving," Chizik stated during the weekly conference on Wednesday. "There's been some signs of improvement. Experience is a great equalizer, and Frazier should get better the more he plays."
Despite Auburn's lackluster performance during the first four games of the season, save for its impressive defensive effort against LSU, many view the game against Arkansas as a foregone conclusion. While the Razorbacks indeed have a solid quarterback, their offense has so far exhibited performance even less inspiring than that of Auburn. They have struggled as greatly on defense, allowing opponents to score an average of nearly 41 points per game.
Given Arkansas' weak defense, it's hard to see Saturday's game as a genuine test of Kiehl Frazier's improvement. Regardless of the final score or total offensive yardage, I would be hesitant to state that Frazier is prepared to perform as well the following week when the Tigers face Ole Miss. That game, in my opinion, will be the next legitimate test of more or less every aspect of Auburn's game - including Frazier's growth as a starting quarterback.
In my opinion, the game against Arkansas will serve a different purpose. If Frazier fails to shine in that scenario, against a defense that has yet to perform well this year, it might very well be time for offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler to consider alternative plans. If too little improvement is evident, it may in fact be time to reconsider the current offensive strategy known as the "West Coast Offense."
I could never speak with the command of an expert, but my gut feeling is that perhaps Loeffler would be better served by adopting a spread offense that focuses more on Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace's running prowess. Both young men can move the ball on the ground when required, but they need an offense that accommodates that approach.
Such statements only matter if Frazier struggles against Arkansas, of course, and I genuinely hope that will not be the case. As I've said before, he possesses more than enough talent. My worry for the moment, however, is that he may be leading an offense that fails to make use of his stronger attributes.
Either way, we will find out where the team stands on Saturday. I'm still a believer, and I expect to see Frazier and the rest of the Tigers dominate the Razorbacks on both offense and defense.
Christopher Brown is an avid, almost rabid college football fan. More importantly, he is a fan of the Auburn Tigers, a team that always seems to provide its fans with an unpredictable and even frustrating roller-coaster ride.