With Cox seemingly set as the Tigers’ starter, finding snaps for freshman backup Kodi Burns has become a challenge.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville said he wanted to use Burns more last Saturday at Florida. But with Cox and the passing game clicking, there weren’t many opportunities to insert Burns.
The freshman played around five plays at quarterback: He scored Auburn’s first touchdown, a shifty 6-yard run on a quarterback draw. He totaled 10 yards on three carries and didn’t attempt a pass.
Burns also got a look at wide receiver on a trick play in the first quarter.
The freshman split wide and was open for a screen pass from Cox. But the ball slipped out of Burns’ hands and to the turf.
As an opportunity to show Burns’ playmaking ability, the play was far from perfect. But the play’s aftermath showed something else: The loyalty his teammates have for the true freshman.
Florida’s Dustin Doe hit Burns after the play was over, leveling the freshman with a shot to the facemask. Auburn center Jason Bosley rushed to Burns’ defense, pushing Doe away as the linebacker celebrated the hit.
Doe and Bosley each drew unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Bosley admitted his reaction wasn’t a smart move. But his instinctive defense of the freshman is proof of the esteem Burns’ teammates have for him.
“I lost my head there for a second,” Bosley said. “When they hit Kodi like that, it was a gut reaction. You have to protect your quarterback.”
Though the trick play wasn’t a success, it’s likely not the last time Burns will play a position other than quarterback. Borges and Tuberville both say Burns could get more opportunities in trick-play situations.
“We still have to get Kodi the ball some, have to get it in his hands and give him the opportunity to make big plays for us,” Tuberville said. “He’ll continue to be a big part of our offense. Some games it will be very little; sometimes it will be a lot.”
Borges admitted Burns probably isn’t ready for a heavy workload in a situation like last Saturday’s game. But that will change as the season progresses.
“We’re going to expand Kodi as we go,” he said. “This last game, being at Florida and all, we probably did it about right. This next game, we’ll try to get him a little more.”