Wallace a threat at QB for Auburn

Wallace a threat at QB for Auburn

November 5th, 2012 by David Paschall in Sports College08football

Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace made his first start for Auburn on Saturday and led the Tigers to a 42-7 win over New Mexico State.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

BROWN OUT FOR YEAR

Georgia senior receiver Marlon Brown tore his left ACL during the third quarter of Saturday's game against Ole Miss, thus ending his college career. Brown is tied for the team lead with 27 catches, which have resulted in 469 yards and four touchdowns.

"We know he'll be able to continue on with his pro career, because I think he is well on his way to having that happen," coach Mark Richt said. "We're very sad and sorry that it happened, but he'll recover and do fine. It's just a hard thing to swallow right now."

Guard Chris Burnette, who suffered a shoulder contusion in the second quarter, is listed day-to-day.

The Georgia Bulldogs do not have to challenge quarterback Cam Newton this time around at Auburn, but they won't be facing college football's worst offense, either.

Auburn shook that label Saturday afternoon by racking up 475 yards in a 42-7 dumping of New Mexico State, which elevated the Tigers from last among the 120 Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense (284.0 yards a game) to 113th (305.2). Providing a spark was freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace, who completed 9 of 16 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown in his first career start.

Wallace threw deep several times, and though he didn't connect on most of those attempts, he stretched the field to help tailbacks Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb combine on 30 carries for 265 yards.

"It was a lot of fun," Wallace said after the game. "We had a rough start, but we put things together. I thought I did some good things and some bad things, but we've got a big game this week."

A three-star signee out of Phenix City, Ala., the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is Auburn's third starting quarterback this season. Wallace made his debut in the fourth game against LSU in the Wildcat formation, and he remained in that role until playing the second half of the 63-21 debacle against Texas A&M on Oct. 27.

Wallace has completed 16 of 26 passes this season for 297 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. His touchdown tally equals the combined count of former starters Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley, who combined on 11 interceptions.

"Wallace didn't throw the ball an awful lot in Saturday's game, though they did have some play-action pass stuff for him," Georgia coach Mark Richt said Sunday. "They just turned that game to where they could grind it out in their traditional I-formation runs. I'm sure we're just going to have to get in that game and get a feel for some of the things they're going to try and do with him."

Saturday's win against New Mexico State was just the second this season for Auburn, which is 0-6 in SEC play and hasn't been 0-7 since 1952. The Tigers made an exciting journey to the BCS championship two seasons ago behind Newton, who ran and threw his way to the Heisman Trophy, but this year's collapse has fourth-year coach Gene Chizik fielding questions about job security.

Falling behind visiting Texas A&M 42-7 in the first half was the low point, at least so far, and Wallace may be the closest thing to good news this program has experienced all autumn.

"Yesterday's game unfolded very favorably for him," Chizik said Sunday. "He started very slow, and what you look for in a quarterback is when things don't start off extremely fast, you want to see him respond. I was proud that Jonathan kept plugging along, because he eventually made some good things happen."

Chizik was asked Saturday if he regretted not playing Wallace earlier and said, "I don't. As a coach, you know the instinct that you use and the instinct that you have, and you have to go with it. I don't look back and second guess things. I am very happy with where he is at right now."

Auburn first-year offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said last week that Wallace deserved the opportunity to start because he learns from his mistakes. There is also the benefit Wallace now brings as an every-down quarterback to an offense that employs both a spread and pro-style run game.

"We wanted to have the ability to cause complete conflict on the defense with a multiple system," Loeffler said. "Any time you're going in and out, you become predictable."

The Tigers will go up against a Georgia defense that was dominant in last year's 45-7 blowout in Athens. The Bulldogs held Auburn to 195 yards and forced three turnovers.