With pressure on, Trotter delivers in 1st start

Barrett Trotter didn’t sleep too well last Friday night.

His stomach wasn’t entirely settled Saturday morning.

But by the time the junior quarterback made his way through Tiger Walk into the locker room and emerged from the tunnel for his first collegiate start, he was fine.

“It was just football from then on out. It was fine,” Trotter said. “I really wasn’t that nervous once I got the pads on.”

Once he got the pads on, Trotter completed 5-of-5 passes in the first half for 88 yards and a 56-yard scoring strike to Emory Blake.

When Auburn got behind 38-28, he completed 6-of-8 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen on the Tigers’ final two drives, the ones that sealed their comeback win.

Overall, Trotter completed 17-of-23 passes for 261 yards and three scores, the sixth-highest single-game yardage total for an Auburn quarterback under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Not bad for a rookie.

“It was definitely a confidence booster for me to be able to go in there and play relatively well and come back at the end of the game,” Trotter said. “There were some positives there. But at the same time, we’ve got to play a lot better than that.”

Coaches praised Trotter’s decision-making and temperament after choosing him to be the Tigers’ starter, and both were on display against Utah State.

Not only did the junior quarterback steer clear of interceptions, but he rarely looked in danger of throwing one in any of his six incompletions.

He even showed an ability to escape the rush and throw on the move, eluding Aggies defensive end Levi Koskan and finding Trovon Reed down the sideline for an 11-yard gain in the first half.

In the second half, he helped the offense weather a bout with stagnancy and piloted the two game-winning drives.

That’s the resiliency Malzahn and head coach Gene Chizik felt Trotter could bring to the table when they chose him over sophomore Clint Moseley and freshman Kiehl Frazier.

“In some pretty heated moments, meaning the game is on the line and there is a lot of pressure on him, he was able to deliver in those two drives at the end,” Chizik said. “He managed the offense. He made some really good throws with some pressure on him. Those situations are extremely high pressure and he delivered.”

Trotter also managed to turn in a solid performance without the benefit of a consistent run game to draw the defense’s attention.

The Tigers managed 78 yards on the ground and 2.6 yards a carry.

Malzahn said it’s always a challenge putting practice reps into action.

“The quarterback position in college is an extremely tough position to play,” Malzahn said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the system and watching for three years. Until you actually get out there and see the different looks and actually play the position, that’s when you learn.

“And I’m learning more about him — and he’s learning more about himself — each game.”

So maybe Trotter can kick the nerves before breakfast this time around.

“I feel a lot more confident,” Trotter said after the game Saturday. “I’m confident in the abilities I have and what I can do once I get the ball in my hands and get out on the field to play. I feel like I’ve grown up a lot through years. And really today even more.”

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