Happy Borges Taking A Look At Young Guns

Auburn, Ala.--With a week off before the SEC Championship game Auburn took some time off before beginning preparations for the Tennessee Volunteers. The Tigers will treat the Sugar Bowl the same way as a 10-day lay-off during final exams ended with the first of 10 scheduled practices before the Jan. 3 game against Virginia Tech.

One of the reasons for taking time off is to heal and refresh players after a physical 12-game season, but it's also to keep from overloading the players heading into a game. To avoid that this week the young players will get more action than normal as the coaches try to get them up to speed on the system heading into spring practice.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges says that the plan is to get some reps for the younger players everyday while the team is practicing in Auburn to avoid burnout of the gameplan.

"We've got a lot of practices," Borges says. "That's what's cool about a bowl game. You almost get kind of an extra spring football, but it's not quite that. Think about this. On a regular game week you've got three practices really, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. For this we've got from today until Jan. 3rd. We've got five practices before we even leave and then another four or five when we get there.

"We've got plenty of time to look at kids and still get your game plan in. You're almost better doing that because if you keep doing the same thing every day it gets a little stale. We're going to approach it like we would approach any bowl game."

Redshirt freshman Brandon Cox is Auburn's No. 2 quarterback.

A player ho should expect extra reps is redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Cox. The back-up to Jason Campbell all season, Cox is the leading candidate to be the starter next season, but will have to fight off a challenge from several talented players including Dusty Goodwin, Calvin Booker and Blake Field. Borges says that the experience Cox has gotten this season should help him in the spring when he'll have to win the vacant job.

"His passing accuracy and he's understanding pass protection better," Borges points out when commenting on Cox's strengths. "He understands how to plug the protections so we can pick up blitzes. You learn by watching Jason--it hasn't been all my instruction. A lot of it has been watching Jason because he's very good on the line of scrimmage.

"The quarterbacks learn more and more as they do it more and more and watch other people do it. It's one thing to take him into a room and explain it to him, but it's another thing to body learn or watch someone else do it."

While watching film of Virginia Tech the last week Borges says he's been impressed by the Hokie unit that led the ACC in scoring defense. Playing a version of the 4-4 that gives them a chance to blitz at almost any time while playing solid coverage, Virginia Tech gets the job done every week.

Borges says that while they do things differently, the Hokies remind him of watching Auburn's defense do their thing. If that's the case then the Tigers are in for a fight because there is little doubt that Borges has a huge amount of respect for the job Gene Chizik has done this season.

"I think the key to offense and defense is exactly the same thing," Borges says. "I don't think there is any difference. You're not depending on any one thing to stop your opponent. You can pack the paint to stop the run by putting a lot of people in the box or you can back off and cover. You can play zone or you can play man. You can blitz from any angle.

"In our defensive system we can blitz corners, we can blitz safeties, we can blitz linebackers, we can look like we're blitzing corners and blitz safeties--our disguise is always consistent. He just has enough flexibility in this system where he can do anything he wants, which means you can defend any offense you play against.

"Some defenses are great at stopping the run and not so good at stopping the pass," he adds. "His system covers all of it and that's why we don't get picked on a lot. He knows his system so well and he's got it where his players know the system so well that it's hard to throw them a lot of curveballs. His system has taken, but offensively we're still learning our offense. In a couple of years you'll really see what we're capable of offensively. When we get where he is now I think you'll see our offense really take off."

From the looks of things both Borges and Chizik may be around Auburn longer than most fans thought. While names such as Ed Orgeron are getting jobs as head coach in the SEC, both have been left alone despite all the job openings. The only mention of Borges has been as offensive coordinator at Oregon, a position he's held once before. Borges says that after coaching at Auburn that job is no longer an option.

"I'm not surprised because I did coach there before," Borges says. "The guy that left there play for me and coached with me, Andy Ludwig. Believe me, I'm not leaving here to go to Oregon. No way. They can mention it all they want."

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