Gus Malzahn admits thought of starting freshman QB 'stresses' him but explains why he believes it's the right move
Gus Malzahn has already gone on record stating that a freshman will start the season as Auburn’s quarterback, the Tigers’ starting QB competition is down to redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood and true freshman Bo Nix, and the reality of the situation on The Plains is the coach could be putting his ultimate fate at the school in the hands of one of these young signal callers.
That’s a scary thought for many reasons, including the fact Auburn is coming off a tough 8-5 season, the Tigers schedule is a gauntlet that features more than a handful of toss-up games, and that Malzahn’s offense has not consistently been run efficiently by a quarterback Auburn recruited out of high school during the coach’s tenure.
During his Wednesday appearance at Regions Tradition from Birmingham, Malzahn admitted the idea of starting a freshman quarterback wasn’t made lightly. However, after reviewing the team’s spring camp, Malzahn believes Gatewood and Nix are the two best options on the roster.
“Well, they are both athletic, they are both very talented. The fact that we are going to start a freshman the first game, that kind of stresses you but when you have the experience and leadership we have, I’m real excited about those two guys’ future,” Malzahn said from the event when asked about his two young QBs in a YouTube video posted by AL.com.
Malzahn was then asked about his two freshmen and what it says about them that they are already in the mix to start at Auburn so early in their careers.
“Yeah, they’ve both earned it. Of course, we’ve been recruiting both of them since eighth or ninth grade so we knew a lot about them. They’ve really earned the position and they are athletic and make good decisions,” Malzahn added. “I think we are in really good hands in the future at the quarterback position, that’s what excites me.”
He better be right because Auburn won’t have the benefit of a warmup game at home this season as the Tigers open against Oregon on Aug. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That game could serve as an early season barometer for the team and show whether this team is ready to compete once again in the SEC or if they still have work to do in order to even be in that discussion before heading to College Station on Sept. 21 for their first league game of the season.