The player who currently has the inside track to be the new number one QB says he is looking to step up his performance level during the 15 days of spring practice for the Tigers, just like Campbell did last season.
On Tuesday, the opening day of spring drills, Brandon Cox showed he has more zip on the ball than he did last year and he looked confident calling the signals with the number one offense.
"I have gotten stronger," Cox says. "My arm has gotten stronger. I have gotten bigger since the season ended. I feel that putting on weight my arm strength has gotten a lot better. I have been able to throw a lot better."
Cox, a redshirt sophomore, spent last season as the the second stringer behind Campbell, who did a major editing job on the Auburn offensive record book. Nobody is expecting Cox to have a season like Campbell did in 2004, but whoever is the new starting quarterback is expected to show some of the leadership qualities that Campbell displayed during Auburn's 13-0 season.
"It is a different role being the starter," Cox acknowledges. "Last year, being the backup, I got some time practicing and some reps in some games, but it is a lot different being the starter. You are the one everybody looks up to and you are the one who leads the team.
"All of the coaches are saying we need some leaders to step up," Cox adds. "Being the quarterback, even though I am not a senior, it is kind of given that the quarterback is the leader of the team. I just have to work at that and get better at that.
Cox throws a pass in Tuesday's practice.
Cox says that he has a good relationship with Borges, his position coach and the offensive coordinator. "Coach Borges, he has been here a year, and I have gotten close to him and been able to talk to him. He has just done a great job of making me feel comfortable."
Borges says that he plans to put the pressure on Cox and the other quarterbacks throughout the spring so they will be tough to take on the challenges that await in the fall.
"I think the pressure is best applied by a good, strong defense," Borges says. "Whenever we get in pads, we will be blitzing every day. Every day we will have a blitz period for him and all of the quarterbacks, not just Brandon.
"We are going to go through some growing pains," Borges says. "All of these kids are new and they are going to make some mistakes, but I would rather have these mistakes get ironed out in these 15 days than start getting them against Georgia Tech."
Cox says that he believes he will have to play well in spring drills to go into the 2005 season as the number one quarterback. "With Calvin (redshirt freshman Calvin Booker) and Blake (redshirt freshman Blake Field), and also with Dustin (sophomore Dusty Goodwin), they are three great quarterbacks. They are right there behind me and they will be pushing me all spring. It is just my job to stay ahead and show everybody that I can be the leader and the first quarterback."
Cox was a record-setting passer at Hewitt-Trussville High School, where he was named Mr. Football for the state of Alabama as a senior. Borges says the hybrid West Coast offense the Tigers run is suited for the left-handed quarterback's skills.
Cox says what the Tigers do is not all that different from what Hewitt-Trussville was doing with its passing game. "There are a lot of similarities with the offense I ran in high school," the quarterback notes. "It wasn't throw it deep every time. It had possession receivers and took accuracy to throw passes here and there and move the ball down the field. That is kind of like what we have here. There is a lot of finesse involved. Coming from high school to this offense, I think I have adapted pretty well."