Sunday, August 31, 2008

ULM game afterthoughts

Nobody came away from Auburn's 34-0 win over ULM thinking the quarterback situation is resolved. Here is my game story from last night. We'll get answers in a few hours, but here's the situation:
  • Kodi Burns looked less bad than Chris Todd. He didn't look good as a passer, but his ability to make plays when nobody's open makes him a better option right now -- especially if Auburn is now without three receivers (Montez Billings, Philip Pierre-Louis and James Swinton).
  • Todd looked as bad as he could have looked last night. Not only did he look completely out of sync, he threw one bad interception and ULM defenders dropped at least two more. At no time, during spring and preseason camp, did Todd give any indication he would look that bad in a meaningful game. I'm not ready to write him off yet. I want to see him again because I think Saturday could have been first-game jitters or something else. If that's really his skill level, though, there shouldn't be a QB debate any more -- Burns should start.
  • The Tigers didn't look confident enough to throw the ball downfield. Instead, they settled for short passes that were unsuccessful virtually the entire night.
  • Everyone said the right things during postgame last night, but it can't be good for the QBs or the offense to have Burns and Todd alternating series. Neither got into any kind of a rhythm and the offense showed as much. We'll find out from Franklin in a few hours what his plan is going forward.
  • Tommy Tuberville declared last night that the two QBs would continue to split playing time. Whether that's an even split again probably depends on Burns' health. Burns cut his leg and needed stitches last night after a long third-quarter run. I'll report an update as soon as I have one.

While the QBs were bad, the run game wasn't. RB Ben Tate looks more and more like the best tailback on the team. He was explosive and capable of breaking big plays. Let's see him do that against Mississippi State and LSU this year before we start banging the "Tate over Lester" drum.

The defense was spectacular on Saturday night. Here's my sidebar on the group last night. It was against ULM, yes, but Auburn's defense dominated. The freshmen played well for the most part and Neiko Thorpe led the team with seven tackles. Thorpe also had the hit of the night late in the fourth quarter when he nearly removed a ULM receiver's head.

Overall, it's hard to come away thinking the team that played at Jordan-Hare Stadium last night is a top-10 team despite a 34-0 win. We shouldn't write off a team that wins big, though. Let's give it a week, see how the QBs progress, and make more assessments then.

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