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AUBURN FOOTBALL: Burns buying into new offense

AUBURN FOOTBALL: Burns buying into new offense

By Jay G. Tate

AUBURN — The plan seemed so straightforward for Kodi Burns.

The freshman quarterback figured eight games of experience this year would provide an ideal resume builder for the 2008 season. Al Borges, the Tigers’ offensive coordinator during the fall, liked Burns’ skills and firmly believed he was the future of Auburn football.

Then came word earlier this week that Borges was out.

Suddenly, Burns’ future became less defined.

“It was a little bit of a shock not knowing what was going on, and then all of a sudden — boom — we’ve got a team meeting and we’ve got a new offensive coordinator,” Burns said. “For the last couple of days, I think it’s gone OK.”

Tony Franklin was hired away from Troy University on Wednesday to overhaul Borges’ slumping offensive system. The Trojans thrived this season as quarterback Omar Haugabook emerged as a competent runner, leading his team in rushing attempts.

Franklin said earlier this week that he believes dual-threat quarterbacks provide overwhelming obstacles for defenses that crave predictability. A mobile quarterback provides variation and, in turn, anxiety for the defense.

Burns isn’t sure how he fits into that equation.

The Arkansas native became a hyped recruit during the fall of 2006 as a passing quarterback. His strong arm is an ideal complement to Burns’ innate scrambling ability, which piqued the Tigers’ interest.

Yet the freshman doesn’t savor comparisons to dual-threat quarterbacks like West Virginia’s Pat White and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of Florida.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a pass-first guy,” Burns said. “I think with this coach I’ll have the opportunity to be able to pass first and rush second. It’s exciting to have a type of guy who just loves to throw the ball and he’s a real guru on offense.”

Running the ball against Southeastern Conference defenses isn’t a new concept to Burns. He finished the season with 41 carries — more than double the number of attempts given to fullback Carl Stewart — and produced when given space to run.

That gives coach Tommy Tuberville confidence that Burns has the ability to handle the physical strain.

“When we start running the quarterback draws and the quarterback counters and those things, and the quarterback starts to run the ball 10-12 times a game, that’s where the quarterback has to hold up in this league,” Tuberville said. ” You call it the ‘spread offense,’ but the only difference is the quarterback is a much more of a physical type player that runs the ball a little bit more.”

Burns won’t be the only candidate for playing time under center next season. Junior Blake Field has a significant amount of experience. Redshirt freshman Neil Caudle has a strong arm and spent his high-school career in an offensive system similar to Franklin’s.

Another possibility is junior-college quarterback Chris Todd. He spent two years playing in Texas Tech’s spread offense before transferring to Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College earlier this year.

Todd, a native of Elizabethtown, Ky., spent his high-school career playing in an offensive system designed by Franklin. Todd’s interest in Troy immediately switched to Auburn when Franklin changed addresses earlier this week.

That relationship led Todd to make an official visit to the Plains this weekend.

Auburn already has commitments from two high-school quarterbacks in Barrett Trotter of Birmingham and Deron Furr of Columbus, Ga. Todd has one thing the prep kids don’t: The ability to enroll in January. Burns, though, said he’s not worrying about that.

” It’s wide open, just like (Franklin) told each one of us,” he said. “It could go to anybody. As far as I’m concerned, I just want to be the guy who works the hardest. I’m pretty sure the other quarterbacks are going to do the same.”

1 Response to “AUBURN FOOTBALL: Burns buying into new offense”

  • I think its going to be interesting to watch the 6 QBs battle it out in the spring. Utimately I think Kodi will remain as the core QB for us. Who knows though that new guy todd could have a cannon and i heard that deron furr is a huge athlete with a similar run and gun ability like Kodi. Either way our main QB will be a dual threat. It wont be anymore of a Cox-like QB then bring in a QB who can run. Its gonna be a QB who can rep the dual threat then possibly bring in an accurate QB just to throw in a wrinkle or two. The thought of the no huddle spread gives me goose bumps.

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