Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A rumor so hot it Burns

AUBURN – A hot rumor arose from Auburn’s football practice Tuesday morning. So hot that it Burns.
Pun and upper-case "B" intended.
But one won’t get players or coaches to acknowledge firmly that Auburn might be looking at ways to get true freshman Kodi Burns on the field.
"I’m not at liberty to say right now," said Blake Field, senior Brandon Cox’s backup for two-plus seasons. "Brandon's still our starter right now. That's all I'm going to say.
"I'm still working to be his backup, if something happens. We're going to try to make some plays?"
So, what to read in all of that?
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and offensive coordinator Al Borges were firm Sunday in saying that Cox is Auburn’s starter, despite Cox’s struggles and those of Auburn’s offense in the Tigers’ first two games.
Through a 23-13 victory over Kansas State and 26-23, overtime loss to South Florida, Auburn ranks last in the Southeastern Conference in total offense at 290.5 yards a game. Cox ranks tenth with a 99.5 pass-efficiency rating.
Still, there’s no serious talk about Cox losing his starting job.
"I'll tell you this, man: You can't take one of the best quarterbacks out," senior defensive end Quentin Groves said. "If they do, then they do, but he's a proven guy.
"They (fans) weren't talking about benching him when they went 11-2 last year. When he led us to the Capital One Bowl, they weren't talking about benching him then. Now, all of a sudden, you want to talk about benching him when we've won one game and lost one game?"
It’s hard to imagine Auburn’s coaching staff benching a senior and third-year starter in favor of a true freshman. Cox is 20-6 as a starter.
But it’s not hard to see Burns moving into the No. 2 role at some point this season. Auburn’s coaching staff has long expressed tepid confidence in Field, and Burns was ranked among the top dual-threat quarterback prospects.
Then there’s the Tim Tebow option. Tebow was a true freshman at Florida last season when the Gators used him as a change-of-pace quarterback. Senior Chris Leak was the starter, but Florida’s coaches inserted the run-oriented Tebow in the game from time to time to give defenses a different look.
"They give him the same treatment Florida gave Tebow last year," wide receiver Robert Dunn said after Tuesday's practice. "They're kind of putting him in and letting him run a couple draws here and there.
"Y'all will just have to wait until Saturday to see what's going on."
Still, Tuberville has long expressed a leaning toward not burning a year of Burns' eligibility this year. He has said he would consider playing Burns only if Burns became the No. 2 guy.
Tuberville was not asked about Burns in the open news conference. He did address Cox’s status. "I know Brandon Cox has taken a lot of heat, and, you know, Brandon Cox is our quarterback," Tuberville said. "He will be our quarterback."
Cox followed Tuberville at the news conference, taking questions from the podium. Cox usually meets with media in various groups in the Rane Room of Auburn’s athletics complex on Tuesdays.
"I am the starter," he said. "Nothing has been said about it. I’m just approaching it that way."

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