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Countdown to SEC kickoff: 16 days

8/13/2013

Auburn's Gus Malzahn is one of four new head coaches in the SEC this season along with Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Butch Jones at Tennessee and Mark Stoops at Kentucky. It looks like all four of those schools will have new starting quarterbacks in 2013.

In fact, does anybody remember the last time Auburn went into a season with the same starting quarterback for a second year in a row? Before we answer that question, we'll throw out the number to chew on today as we continue our countdown to kickoff in the SEC: 7.

Auburn has narrowed its quarterback race to a pair of newcomers. Junior college transfer Nick Marshall and true freshman Jeremy Johnson will get the bulk of the first-team reps this week as the Tigers try to settle on a starter. Malzahn said sophomore Jonathan Wallace also remains in the picture, but junior Kiehl Frazier has requested a move to safety. What this all means is that Auburn will have its seventh straight different starter at quarterback to open the season. The last time the Tigers had a returning starter at quarterback was 2007 with Brandon Cox, who was a three-year starter. Frazier started the first five games last season, but struggled to throw the ball effectively and was benched in favor of Clint Moseley. The Tigers finished the season with Wallace under center. Marshall and Johnson have both been impressive in scrimmages this preseason, and Malzahn said a few weeks ago that he would try to get it down to two as quickly as possible. Marshall is a dynamic athlete who started his career at Georgia as a cornerback before detouring through junior college. Johnson is the better passer of the two, although both players have shown the ability to throw the ball down the field. Malzahn is accustomed to going into a season with a new quarterback. He’s had a different starting quarterback every year he’s been in the college game going all the way back to 2006 when he moved from the high school ranks to Arkansas as the Hogs’ offensive coordinator. One thing we’ve come to count on under Malzahn, regardless of whether it’s Marshall or Johnson who wins the job, is that he’s going to spread the ball around on offense while still emphasizing the power running game.