AU Searching For Consistency

Georgia Coach Mark Richt has got something from his redshirt freshman signal caller that Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville has gotten little of from his quarterback duo.

Auburn, Ala.--Both Auburn and Georgia entered the 2001 season with similar battles for the starting quarterback position. And each school's head coach opted to go with a redshirt freshman instead of a veteran upperclassmen.

Auburn's choice of Jason Campbell came as little surprise after players and coaches tagged him with the nickname "The Future" and figured it was best to let the young signal-caller learn on the run as the Tigers matured in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

Campbell, a former Prep All-American out of Taylorsville, Miss., High, entered summer two-a-days behind senior Daniel Cobb on the Tigers' depth chart, but quickly moved ahead of Cobb as the two shared repititions through the preseason.

Georgia's choice of David Greene did surprise many after junior Corey Phillips performed admirably relieving last year's starter Quincy Carter after he went down with an injury in midseason. Greene and Phillips entered two-a-days listed as co-number one quarterbacks after the freshman had a solid spring. New Bulldog Coach Mark Richt went with youth over experience naming Greene, a USA Today All-USA honorable mention quarterback at South Gwinett, Ga., High, his starter two weeks before the season opener.

Auburn redshirt freshman Jason Campbell.

Ten weeks into the campaign, Richt's decision is looking like a good one and Campbell is learning from the sidelines while Greene is flourishing on the field. Campbell's stint as Auburn's starting quarterback lasted into game six of the season when the six-foot-five, 220-pounder was pulled after three consecutive three and outs in the Florida game.

Cobb has been the Tigers' quarterback for every snap since, but the senior has done little to put any distance between himself and Campbell. Coach Tommy Tuberville said if Cobb continues his bout with inconsistency Campbell could see action this Saturday when the Tigers visit Athens for a 2:30 p.m. CST kickoff

As much as Tuberville has had to deal with inconsistent play from his quarterback duo, his team is still 6-2 overall and 4-1 in SEC play. The Tigers control their own destiny for a return to trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game, but they will have to face Richt and company and the first-year coach has something the Tigers don't--consistent quarterback play.

"Mark Richt has done an excellent job of coming in and putting an offense in around a young quarterback that has not made a lot of mistakes," Tuberville said. "I think that is the big difference between our football team and theirs. They haven't self-destructed in some of their tough football games."

Greene is 5-2 as the Bulldog starter losing only to No. 21 South Carolina, 14-9, and No. 6 Florida, 24-10. The six-foot-three, 222-pounder led Georgia on a dramatic game-winning touchdown drive with less than a minute remaining vs. No. 6 Tennessee and has surpassed the 300-yard passing mark in three of his seven starts. His best output came vs. Kentucky when the Bulldogs stormed back from a 15-point deficit to beat the Wildcats 43-29. Greene threw for a career-high 364 yards and three touchdowns against UK.

His overall stats speak for themselves, especially considering his inexperience before the season started. Greene has completed 63 percent of his passes (149-237) for 1,982 yards. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. Four of his touchdown passes have been hauled in by true freshman flanker Fred Gipson who leads the team in receiving with 24 catches for 508 yards.

"You build your offense around what type of quarterback you have and at the beginning of the year they were searching for one," Tuberville added. "Of course, they found one in David Greene and they have continued to build around him."

QB Daniel Cobb.

In comparison, the Tiger quartebacks have thrown for 304 less yards in one more game and have only nine touchdown passes to go with their nine interceptions. Cobb has six of those interceptions, all coming in the last two games and Campbell had just three in his six starts. Tuberville said Cobb has a better grasp of the offense as a whole, but added it is time for his redshirt freshman to get in a game. "I think Jason has learned a lot being able to stand on the sidelines and look at the problems Daniel has had."

Regardless of whether Cobb or Campbell takes the most snaps Saturday at Georgia, the offense will need the signal caller to be on top of his game, and that means playing consistently for 60 minutes, if the Tigers want to inch even closer to capturing the SEC Western Division title.

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