Offense Welcomes Cobb's Experience

The Tigers look for improvement on offense under the guidance of a new starting quarterback.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming into the season the focus of this Auburn team was on the defense. With several all-star candidates returning on that side of the ball, the experts said the defenders would have to carry the load for an offense that lost its top four weapons in quarterback Ben Leard, backs Rudi Johnson and Heath Evans and wide receiver Ronney Daniels.

Now six games into the season, that has come to pass as the offense, saddled with inexperience at the skill positions, has struggled to score points for the most part this season. While they have had flashes of brilliance with solid performances by Ronnie Brown and Casinious Moore running the ball, the offense has usually been a subject of concern for the coaching staff this season. But, that could be on the brink of changing as new starting quarterback Daniel Cobb has brought an air of excitement into a once stagnant offensive unit.

"He really stepped up vocally," junior center Ben Nowland says of Cobb. "Jason (Campbell) is still young and I don't know if he really knows how to grab the reigns and take control of an offense yet, but he got the job done while he was out there. It just seemed like Cobb had a great week of practice (before the Florida game). When we were watching film the Friday night before just going over little things Cobb knew the answers and the checks. That gives us confidence knowing that he knows what he's doing."

That confidence could be a good thing for an offense that has been lacking in production through the first six games. The passing game has been particularly stale this season. Averaging just 173.8 yards through the air, the Tigers are 34 yards off their pace from last season, something that has been a concern for offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Now that Cobb is in the pocket, tight end Lorenzo Diamond says he feels a difference in the passing game this week.

"I think it is because Daniel Cobb has a lot more experience than Jason with feeling pressure in the pocket and just seeing things more because he's been around longer. Jason is still a great athlete and still a great player, but he's young right now and I don't think he understands what his role is in the offense right now. He's just young but Dan has experience and we're going to ride on that experience for a while."

Riding the leadership and experience of Cobb is important this week as the Tigers must score points to beat a tough Louisiana Tech team that is averaging 34.6 points per game on offense. Knowing that they have to step up their game, right tackle Monreko Crittenden notes that he's heard from seniors Kendall Simmons, Hart McGarry and Mike Pucillo all week how important this game is to the Tigers' season.

"I've heard it from them but I know it from experience," he says of the test this week. "I was here last year and they played us hard last year and almost beat us. We can't slack this week at practice. We've got to continue to work hard, be physical and learn or else we'll be beat."

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