Auburn’s starting QB job is down to two players: Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix.

Gatewood and Nix out-performed the competition during spring practice, and now, it’s about how they handle summer workouts (leadership), and how they perform during fall camp.

With Oregon as the season opener, it may be unlikely that Gus Malzahn will make his starter known. He’s certainly known as one who keeps his cards close to the vest; so, we may not even know who will start right up until game time.

Nonetheless, Malzahn hopes to identify the starter early on in fall camp.

“The first thing we got to do is identify our starter,” Malzahn told’s Tom Green Monday before speaking at the AMBUSH Tour stop in Columbus, Ga. “We narrowed it down to two, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that early in fall camp.”

While the offseason is overrated for a number of reasons, one QB taking the reins of the team isn’t. Malzahn spoke about that importance also.

“I think it’s really good for those two young guys, because we can’t be out there with the ball and all that, so it gives them an opportunity to really work on their leadership skills in front of their teammates,” Malzahn explained. “A lot of the times, that’s when teams grow—without the coaches. We do have really, really strong leadership on both sides of the football, so it gives those two guys a chance to develop themselves and establish themselves as a leader and take charge. I think it’s a good thing.

“As far as what we’re hearing and all that, it’s kind of one of those deals where as a coach, you kind of just wait until you get out there in fall camp and you usually know pretty quick how things stand and from a leadership standpoint.”

Starting a true freshman against Oregon — Nix — may seem like a daunting task. Gatewood has game experience from last year. This is one QB battle that has national interest.