Cobb Hoping For Big Return To Athens

Auburn, Ala.--<b>Daniel Cobb</b> says that as important as Saturday's Auburn-Georgia game is to Auburn's chances to win the SEC West and the overall league title, he needs to keep his cool this week.

And, as important as the game is personally to the Tiger senior, he says there is no reason to get too excited for what could be his first appearance in Athens. "If I did that, I think it would only hurt us," says Cobb, who began his collegiate career as a Georgia Bulldog.

"It is important for me to treat this as any other game," says Cobb. "I will game-plan the same as any other game and take it as seriously. It just so happens that I know a lot of the guys on that team over there, which kind of helps."

Noel Mazzone, the offensive coordinator and Cobb's position coach, says, "I haven't talked to Daniel about going back like I didn't talk to Ben (Leard) about it because Ben grew up a Georgia fan but ended up at Auburn. I don't question these kids. They are going to get up for these games.

Daniel Cobb has started two games for the Tigers.

"Georgia, or whoever we are playing, we are down to the last three games of the season and there are things riding on all three," Mazzone adds. "All of these last three are good rivalries so I would be shocked if both teams weren't emotionally charged to play these games."

After struggling in his first collegiate road start at Arkansas, Cobb is having to battle in practice to hold onto the number one spot. Head coach Tommy Tuberville has made it very clear that he has been concerned about Cobb's recklessness throwing into coverage.

Cobb says his bad throws come when he tries to "sugar coat" his reads. Explaining what sugar coating a read means, Cobb says, "When I try to look off a safety when I really don't need to or when I just need to let the scheme work for itself. Let the offense and the route, as it is designed, do what it is supposed to do. I don't need to try to move the linebacker a few feet or get him to move one way with my eyes."

Cobb says that a victory over the Bulldogs would be great for "bragging rights" and for Auburn's chances to win the SEC crown, but adds that his UGA experience was not negative aside from the medical problems he suffered during his two years in Athens. "There was never a bad feeling. When I left, people understood why. They didn't argue with me. There was never a feeling of being angry."

Cobb was named Georgia's Gatorade Player of the Year as a high school senior.

Cobb enrolled at UGA as an early high school graduate in January 1997 after earning prep All-American honors as a senior at Harrison High in Marietta, Ga. He was considered the QB of the future in Athens, however, a series of medical setbacks kept him off the playing field during the 1997 and 1998 seasons after showing great promise in practice. He first had surgery to correct a dangerous blood-clotting problem. He later had surgery to remove a rib and was told he had to give up football.

After getting a second opinion from a West Coast specialist, he began a rehab that allowed him to return to football. However, by that time a hotshot freshman quarterback named Quincy Carter had firmly established himself as the new QB of the future for UGA. That began a parade of transfers from the Bulldog quarterback ranks and Cobb was part of the exodus. After sitting idle from game competition for two years, he decided the best move would be to transfer to Butler County Community College. The Kansas junior college team had a strong team returning, but was looking for a quarterback.

Cobb and former Tiger tailback Rudi Johnson led Butler to the national title as Cobb passed for 2,315 yards and 24 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Both then signed with Auburn and joined the 2000 Auburn team in January of that year.

After seeing only cameo appearances last season at Auburn as Johnson earned SEC Player of the Year honors, Cobb was promoted to starting status following a strong performance off the bench in the victory over Florida. Playing in five of Auburn's eight games this season, Cobb has completed 66-119 passes for 833 yards. He has thrown for six touchdowns, but has had six interceptions and had several other close calls on balls that could have easily been intercepted.

Jason Campbell, who opened the season as the starter, has played in six games and has completed 68-108 passes for 845 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Campbell says he is working hard in practice trying to win his job back and vows to play better at his next opportunity.

Head coach Tommy Tuberville is expected to announce the starter for the Georgia game on Tuesday. Based on practice the past week, the senior from Georgia is likely to get a chance to be the hero on a return to his home state.

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