QB search continues at Auburn and Alabama

This past Saturday was a busy day across the college football landscape as many teams held their spring games to conclude their early preparations for the 2011 season.

Two bitter SEC rivals, defending national champion Auburn and Alabama, entered their spring showcases with questions under center. And, like many other schools across the nation, they'll leave spring with their questions unanswered.

Let's take a look at the tight battles under center at both schools.

Auburn

Auburn’s monumental task of replacing Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton continued on Saturday in the team’s A-Day game at Jordan-Hare Stadium, with Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley doing nothing to prevent this competition from extending into the summer and fall. Trotter arguably had the better spring showcase, going 6 of 12 for 120 yards and the game’s lone touchdown. Moseley, meanwhile, completed 9 of 15 passes for 82 yards. While Trotter doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, he has good touch and accuracy on his throws. Neither signal caller can take off and run like Newton, so Gus Malzahn’s offense certainly will look a little different in 2011. Trotter has the edge right now, but keep in mind that highly rated freshman Kiehl Frazier will arrive this summer. Still, even if he has an impressive fall camp, would Malzahn hand the keys to a true freshman in the opener against Utah State on September 3?

Check out a portion of Chizik’s postgame press conference, where he discusses the Tigers’ quarterback situation. Video courtesy of al.com.

Alabama

Meanwhile, Auburn’s in-state rival is experiencing its own closely contested quarterback race. Saturday in Tuscaloosa, neither redshirt sophomore A.J. McCarron nor redshirt freshman Phillip Sims pulled away in the race to succeed the steady Greg McElroy. In fact, the race may have drawn even closer as we head toward the summer and into fall camp.

In the team’s annual A-Day game, each signal caller spent a half with the first-team offense after both received first-team reps during spring drills. McCarron threw a 20-yard touchdown pass — the lone scoring toss on the day — en route to a 21 of 38 passing day. He recorded 222 yards and also had one interception. Sims connected on 19 of 38 passes for 229 yards and one interception. While both showcased the ability to make good decisions, they also made errors not seen under center with McElroy at the helm. Clearly, only extended playing time will make these two signal callers better. McCarron is the more experienced of the two, having seen very limited action in nine contests last season. On the season, he threw for 389 yards and three scores. Will that override the superior athletic ability of Sims, who received his reps on the practice field with the scout team in 2010?

What's interesting to note is that Sims' improvement as a passer has kept him in this race longer than many had expected. After all, it was thought by many that McCarron was the natural heir apparent to McElroy, who helped steer the Tide to a national title in 2009.

Check out a portion of Saban’s postgame press conference, where he discusses the performances of McCarron and Sims. Video courtesy of al.com.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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