Kiehl Frazier will feel the churning in his stomach. He'll know he's worked hard, but he'll go through moments of wondering if he's ready for the task in front of him.
Stan White started 45 consecutive games at Auburn.
So says Stan White. And he's been there.
Frazier, a sophomore who spent last season as a wildcat quarterback, will get his first career start when No. 25 Auburn opens its season against No. 14 Clemson on Saturday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Twenty-one years ago, White was a redshirt freshman getting ready to start against Cal State-Fullerton at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the first college game in which he had played.
"I played Cal State-Fullerton and he's playing Clemson," said White, a Birmingham State Farm agent who is preparing for his 12th season on the Auburn radio team. "There wasn't near the hype for me, but you still go through the same nerves. As the game goes on, the first play becomes the second and third and fourth. It makes you start to realize your study and all the work you have done has paid off."
White had one of better openers of any first-time starter in recent Auburn history, completing 21-of-35 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns as Auburn won 38-17. He went on to start 45 consecutive games, a record for Auburn quarterbacks. He still holds the Auburn record for passing yards with 8,016 and total offense with 7,920 yards.
For the best of quarterbacks, White says, doubts creep in when passes fall incomplete, when plays go backward.
"There are times you are going to struggle," White said. "You are not going to be 100 percent sharp every time you step out there. It's impossible. You can't complete every pass. You start questioning yourself. The key is to have confidence.
"The biggest thing is you know put the hard work in. Have fun and realize you got there for a reason. When you start pressing and trying to do too much, that's when you struggle."
White saw every play Frazier ran last season. He's seen him in practice. And he's been impressed.
"I think he's got loads of ability," White said. "He has really good motion on the ball. He can really throw it. (Offensive coordinator Scot)Loeffler is really big on keeping the feet in there, keeping that high posture and whipping the ball through. He does that. Just like any quarterback in a new system, don't expect him to go out there and go 19-for-20, But I think he has a good grasp of what they want to do. He can make all the throws."
Frazier, White said, will benefit from having played last season, from having been in some of the tougher venues in college football. But that won't make it easy. But being the starter is different.
"It's really hard to describe," White said. "How many people really get to do that. 85,000 in the stadium and a couple of million watching on TV that have never done it? It's something you have to experience. You have to go through it. It's part of the growing experience."
Since 1991, only Ben Leard and Brandon Cox have lost season-openers as first-time starters. But they are also the only two who played against BCS conference opponents. Cox passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns but threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a 23-14 loss to Georgia Tech in 2005. Leard passed for 146 yards but couldn't get his team into the end zone against Virginia in 1998. Two seasons later, he was the All-Southeastern Conference quarterback.
Cam Newton, who would lead Auburn to the national championship and win the Heisman Trophy, had the most prolific opener. He passed for 186 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns as Auburn beat Arkansas State 52-26 to open the 2010 season.
Following is how first-time starters have done in season-openers since 1991:
2011: Barrett Trotter 17-23-0, 261 yards, 3 TD. Auburn 42, Utah State 38.
2010: Cam Newton 9-14-0, 186 yards, 3 TD. 15 rushes, 171 yards, 2 TD. Auburn 52, Arkansas State 26.
2008: Chris Todd 9-18-1, 70 yards, 1 TD. Kodi Burns 4-9-0, 15 yards. Auburn 34, ULM 0. Todd and Burns were co-starters, alternating each series.
2005: Brandon Cox 22-44-4, 342 yards, 2 TD. Georgia Tech 23, Auburn 14.
2001: Jason Campbell 16-28-0, 214 yards, 1 TD. Auburn 30, Ball State 0.
1998: Bean Leard 11-25-1, 146 yards, 1 TD. Virginia 19, Auburn 0.
1996: Dameyune Craig 18-32-2, 183 yards, 0 TD. Auburn 29, UAB 0.
1994: Pat Nix 7-20-2, 83 yards, 1 TD. Auburn 22, Ole Miss 17
1990: Stan White 21-35-0, 324 yards. Auburn 38, Cal-Fullerton 17