Tigers Improve At QB Position In Spring

Coach Al Borges and quarterback Brandon Cox talk about Thursday's scrimmage and if there's a race at quarterback.

Auburn, Ala.--The quarterback position was one most thought had very little competition coming into spring practice with just Brandon Cox and Kelcy Luke to challenge starter Jason Campbell for the spot after last season's back-up Josh Sullivan gave up football for baseball. After 15 practices and countless hours under the watchful eye of Coach Al Borges, the position is likely still a runaway with Campbell in the lead, but Cox came on strong and made a strong impression on the new coach this spring as he wrapped up the back-up job.

"It makes you feel good," Borges said. "I tell you what's nice is that Brandon has made steady progress as we've gone. I think he's an accurate passer and that plays such a big part. He still has a lot to learn about how to handle our running game and some of the basic fundamentals of the position, but it's nice to know that he's taken a step and allows us to know that if Jason were to get hurt, knock on wood, that we would have a reliable guy there."

Reliable is what Cox has been this spring when given time to throw the ball. In his last two scrimmage outings the left-hander is 20-22 with over 300 yards through the air. Not bad for a player thought to be done after two years of struggling with an illness that left him in limbo both on the football field at in school. Cox said that he feels much better now and is happy with the way this spring went.

"He's done a great job of coaching us and I feel like we're in position going into the fall to be a great offensive team," Cox said of Borges' offense. "I've learned the offense a good bit and feel comfortable with it. Going into this fall being the back-up I feel like I need to continue to work hard and learn this offense."

Campbell is Auburn's unquestioned starter heading into two-a-days.

A strong player in the passing game, Cox lags behind Campbell in the important area of reading defenses and getting the Tigers into the right plays in the running game. Still where the bread is buttered for the Tigers with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, Auburn has to be able to exploit their talents on Saturdays and that's where Campbell is at his best. Borges said the fifth-year senior has done everything that has been asked of him this spring to be the quarterback Borges is hoping to see next fall.

"He's done a nice job," Borges said. "Of all the places I've transitioned to as quarterback, and I've done a bunch more than I care to admit actually, he's picked it up faster than any quarterback I think I've had. That's a tribute to him. The kid is a coach's kid. He understands football and he's been well coached up to this point. All I had to do is kind of program him to our stuff. He knows how to get out of bad plays and into good plays. He understands the timing of the passing game. I think it was a pretty easy transition for him."

A competitor in his own right that has improved daily at the position, Cox said that there is little doubt in his mind who the starting quarterback for this team is heading into the summer and next fall. "Jason has the experience," Cox said. "It's a lot different being out there in game situations and seeing different defenses. He has four or five years of that experience and that's what it takes to be a quarterback. It's getting out there and actually being in the position.

"He's on the next level," Cox said of Campbell. "I have a lot of learning to do. Hopefully come next year when Jason has graduated I can concentrate on being the starter. Until that time comes my position is the back-up."

Brandon Cox directs traffic during Thursday's scrimmage.

Borges and his quarterbacks will now take some much-needed time off before getting back to work in off-season conditioning programs with Coach Kevin Yoxall. After that it will be afternoon throwing sessions that break up the week and get the players back in a rhythm for two-a-days just around the corner. Until then all they'll be able to do is remember a spring of learning, a spring that Borges said was as good as he could have hoped for after taking on the job with short notice.

"You're never satisfied, that's a coaches answer," Borges said. "You could win 100-0 and you're never satisfied, but to say we're on schedule for fall football, I think we are. We have some great stuff to look at now from this scrimmage. We made some mistakes, but you need to do that. You need to show them to your kids so they won't make the same mistakes. I think we're on schedule, but we're not satisfied. We still have a long way to go."

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