2004 Auburn Football Preview: The Quarterbacks

Editor's Note: In the ninth part of a series previewing the new edition of the football Tigers, comments from Jason Campbell are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Jason Campbell knows a lot about running an offense and he should. Entering his final season as quarterback, Campbell has learned four different college playbooks from four different offensive coordinators.

His most recent coordinator, Al Borges, looks to have the most complex playbook of the bunch, but it is one Campbell is looking forward to using.

"It's a fun offense," Campbell says. "You want to know all the choices in it. It gives you the opportunity to succeed in the passing game. As a quarterback, it is a system that you love and a system that you want to be in."

Borges' variation on the West Coast Offense for Auburn this season, called the Gulf Coast Offense by some, promises not only to improve the Tigers' passing game, but to find ways to get the ball to Auburn's stable of running backs led by Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. A tall order indeed and one that is full of variety.

"This playbook is the most different out of all of them because of the spacing we use on offense, the different formations and running Cadillac and Ronnie on the field at the same time," Campbell says. "The way the whole playbook feels it just makes guys want to have fun. Everybody on offense is excited about this playbook."

Jason Campbell goes into his final season with 4,599 career passing yards for the Tigers.

If spring is an indication of what is to come from the Borges' offense, then the Tigers' offensive attack will be complex. During spring scrimmages, when the coaches said that they had not run the whole package, Auburn ran the wide receiver bunch set in which three wideouts are grouped together to confuse defenses, the pro-split back set, the power I formation, the offset I, the single back set as well as the standard I formation and others.

Borges also experimented with Brown, Williams, junior Tre Smith and redshirt freshman Carl Stewart at the fullback position to give those backs opportunities for increased game time while expanding the playbook's mystery. The offense is designed to take pressure off of Campbell and to put it on the opposing defenses.

"As long as I stay within this playbook, everything else will speak for itself," Campbell says. "When you run a simple pass play it gives the quarterback an opportunity to make big plays throwing the ball down the field, hitting guys underneath the defense or hitting Ronnie and Carnell out of the backfield and getting them one on one with the linebackers."

Campbell says Auburn's 2004 opponents will see a significant changes in the offensive system. "It won't look like the offenses we have run in the past where they could kind of dictate what we were going to do," Campbell says. "This year is going to be kind of different because you can't play that role. We have so many plays out of one set and out of different sets that you can't focus on a one dimensional thing that we do."

Mastering the attack will be critical for Auburn during two-a-days and the early weeks of the season because defending SEC and national champion LSU comes comes to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 18th.

"By the time we get to that game we want to be moving pretty well because they have a great defense," Campbell says. "They are going to be riding pretty high off of being the defending national champions. We want to be rolling pretty well because they give you a lot of different looks on defense. By the time you get to that game you want to be rolling pretty well."

There will be no player backing up Campbell who has taken a snap in a college football game. Last year's backup, Josh Sullivan, decided to devote his remaining eligibility to baseball. That opened the door for redshirt freshman Brandon Cox to earn the number two position behind Campbell after gaining offensive MVP honors at A-Day.

Cox solidified his number two spot with a good performance in the 2004 spring football game. The redshirt freshman is up to 204 pounds.

Cox adapted well to the new offensive system in the spring and made major progress from the start of spring drills to the conclusion, Auburn coaches note.

With redshirt freshman Kelcy Luke transferring after spring semester, the competition for the third QB spot looks to be a three-man race during two-a-days. Redshirt freshman Dusty Goodwin and signees Blake Field and Calvin Booker will be battling for the position before the Tigers opening game on Sept. 4th.

Borges has had a chance to work with Goodwin, a walk-on and says he likes what he sees. "Dusty is a good player who is a coach's son who understands the game."

Booker and Field were signed by Auburn in February and having been working out on campus this summer. Campbell has been working with the incoming QBs this summer. "The young guys are pretty good," Campbell says. "Calvin Booker and Blake Field--I was really impressed with their arm strength," Campbell says. "Once they learn the system going into spring next year, it's going to be a real battle between Cox, Blake and Calvin Booker because all three of them can progress and all three of them are doing a great job of learning right now."

With his final season as a collegiate athlete looming, Campbell says he hopes to enjoy the experience. "Basically, I just want to go out there and be myself," he says. "Whether it's throwing or running, I just want to have fun."

Campbell adds that his dream for this season is to make it with his teammates to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

"We've got 19 seniors this year and that is all we talk about--trying to get there," the quarterback says. "We went our freshman year as redshirts, but we have never gone to play. This year we want to go to play. I think that takes a lot of determination, but individual goals are behind team goals. If you achieve more as a team then you will achieve more as an individual."

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