Waiting For The Word

Senior Daniel Cobb talks about the possibility of returning for the 2002 season and Tommy Tuberville talks about AU's offensive woes.

Atlanta, Ga.--Daniel Cobb has done the paperwork and is awaiting word from the NCAA on whether or not he will be granted another year of eligibility.

The senior from Marietta, Ga., pumped some life into the Auburn offense on his two possessions at the end of the Peach Bowl game won 16-10 by North Carolina.

"It is still pending right now," Cobb said. "It is really out of my hands until I get that word." Cobb had a life-threatening blood clot while on scholarship at UGA and also had major surgery that allowed him to return to football after other doctors had told him he needed to quit playing the game.

Daniel Cobb had an up and down 2001 season for the Tigers.

Former Georgia coach Jim Donnan has helped Cobb with the appeal, which was filed before Christmas. "From what I have heard they are reviewing it," Cobb said. "They wanted a little more information about my first year at Georgia. We accommodated them on that and had everything documented. It is a waiting game right now."

Following the Peach Bowl, Cobb said it is not 100 percent certain he will be back even if granted an extra year, but gave a strong indication that he will return for the 2002 season if he gets the opportunity. "If they let me, it is something I would seriously consider and talk to the coaches about."

Coach Tommy Tuberville said that he and Cobb will sit down and discuss the fifth-year senior's status if the NCAA grants the extra year of eligibility. If Cobb does return, he will be playing for a new position coach because offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has been fired. Tuberville said he plans to bring in a new quarterback coach/offensive coordinator to run the Tiger attack in 2002. The new coordinator could be in place not long after Cobb returns to second semester classes next week.

Because he was unable to compete due to serious medical problems while attending the University of Georgia, Cobb has only been able to play three college football seasons--two at Auburn and one at Butler County Community College in Kansas.

Cobb began the 2001 season as the third stringer on the depth chart. He moved to number one after a strong performance off the bench in relief of Jason Campbell as the Tigers knocked off then top-ranked Florida. He held the starting job through the Alabama game when the entire offense struggled. Campbell took over for the regular season finale at LSU and played QB vs. North Carolina until Cobb got the call with 5:31 left in the game. Auburn trailed 16-3 at the time and the offense was the major problem.

The senior completed 6-10 passes for 71 yards in two series and threw a 12-yard pass to tight end Lorenzo Diamond for Auburn's only touchdown. (Campbell managed just 74 passing yards in 3 1/2 quarters.)

On Cobb's first possession, following a shoulder injury to the starter, he moved the Tigers from their own 26 to a first down at the UNC 19. The big gainers were an 18-yard pass to freshman tight end Jay Ratliff and a 21-yarder to senior Tim Carter.

However, on second and 10 the drive was stopped when Cobb was intercepted. Commenting on the play, he said, "We call it ‘void in the middle' when both inside linebackers come. Rather than changing the route of two receivers, we had two crossing routes built in to the route so I knew I wouldn't have to adjust. I think the throw was just a little quicker than Tim (Carter) anticipated it being. It ended up going off one guy's hands to the guy playing behind him, the safety."

After the Tigers used their three timeouts on defense, they got the football back at the UNC 20 with 1:32 left after the Tar Heels mishandled the punt snap. This time Cobb and the Tigers put the ball into the end zone. On first down, the QB hit Jeris McIntyre for eight yards on a sideline route.

On the second play, the Tigers moved into striking range as Lorenzo Diamond scored on a 12-yard pass. Damon Duval's PAT cut the Tar Heels' lead to six points. "It is something we work on in practice everyday," Diamond said. "I just tried to get in the end zone. I didn't give up. I think that is something this team can build on going into next year--playing four quarters and not giving up."

Auburn's drive took just 14 seconds so there was enough time for the Tigers to pull off the win if they could get the ball back, but UNC recovered an onsides kick and needed just two plays to run the clock to 0:00. Until that happened, Cobb said he believed the Tigers still had a chance to win. "Anything is possible, especially on Astroturf the way the ball bounces," Cobb said. "I knew Damon would have a chance, but the North Carolina guy made a good play on it and that put an end to that."

If Cobb gains his extra year of eligibility and decides to return, he will be involved in round two of a QB battle with Campbell, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2002. When asked if he was frustrated, Campbell said, "I didn't get frustrated. I felt we weren't making enough plays to keep ourselves in the game and move us down the field." Campbell added, "You have to give them (North Carolina) credit. They played hard and played with a lot of emotion."

Jason Campbell struggled in the Peach Bowl.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Coach Tommy Tuberville said the Tigers went into the game with a plan to throw more deep balls. Campbell threw just one and it was a positive play for the Tigers went McInytre was bumped and pass interference was called. "We tried to throw it downfield, but we didn't have time," the coach said. "They were running around us pretty good. You have got to be able to run the ball against a team that gets up the field like that. You don't give your offensive linemen a chance if you can't move the football on the ground. When it got into a throwing game, it wasn't fun for our offensive linemen or backs because they were just laying their ears back and running up the field. Also, they were blitzing. They were blitzing more than we have seen them blitz in a while--especially late. There are no excuses. We had plays. We didn't make them and they did."

Tuberville gave North Carolina credit for having a good defense and singled out the front four as being the team strength. Despite that, he said that by holding the Tar Heels to just 16 points, his team should have won the game. "We had people open," the coach said. "The one ball we had tipped over the middle and intercepted, we had a guy open and didn't get the ball to him. It all goes back to execution. We didn't execute. When you don't you aren't going to make plays."...Tight end Diamond agreed with the coach. He said that the Tigers were their own worst enemy in the bowl game. "It looked like they were doing stuff on defense that we hadn't practiced against," Diamond said. "That wasn't the case. We just weren't executing our offense. That is basically the bottom line."...Diamond had this comment when asked about AU's inability to hit deep balls vs. the Tar Heels. "We were looking to go downfield a lot, but they were blitzing a lot so we had to take the underneath routes to get the ball to the receivers quickly," he said. "They were on the receivers and they couldn't break tackles and make plays."

Snow covers the Auburn football practice field on Wednesday. The Tigers are on break until classes resume on Tuesday, Jan. 8th.

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