Cox Clearly Leading The Way At Quarterback

Offensive coordinator Al Borges discusses the quarterbacks and the offense following two major spring scrimmages.

Auburn, Ala.–-Coming into the spring there was talk of a quarterback battle between Brandon Cox and the rest of the Auburn signal callers, but two-thirds of the way through spring practice most of the shots have been coming from Cox, the sophomore left-hander who looks firmly entrenched at the top of depth chart.

Playing well and displaying improved arm strength and maturity, Cox has shown that he's head and shoulders above backups Calvin Booker, Blake Field and Dustin Goodwin.

He's so far ahead in fact that offensive coordinator Al Borges says that while he was once hopeful to have his first two quarterbacks named before the preseason practices began in August, now he's just looking for someone to put some presssure on Cox for the remainder of the spring to make him better.

"It's still so up in the air," Borges says of finding a number two. "We're probably going to come out of the spring without a defined second quarterback. That really doesn't concern me right now in finding the number two quarterback. I think we've got a lot of time to make that decision. We're going to keep coaching them all.

"For that matter we're still hoping someone pushes Cox. Right now he's clearly the number one quarterback and until someone does he's going to stay the number one quarterback. Those kids are coming around and they're getting a little better. The young quarterbacks were better in this scrimmage than they were in the scrimmage before and that's all that I ask of them, just to improve."

Cox has become more physical in the passing game and is throwing the deep ball much better this spring that at any time in his career.

Last Saturday was the second of three scrimmages planned for the Tigers during spring practice and once again the offense and defense traded blows for much of the day. Early on the offense hit hard and fast, scoring on a 90-yard drive led by Cox. Despite two interceptions on the day, Borges says Cox improved as did the entire offense.

"I felt like we definitely took a step forward," Borges says. "I think we got a little better. The only thing that was a little disconcerting was the interceptions, but some of this is a work in progress. But in terms of, Brandon in particular, hitting the open guy I thought he was pretty accurate except for the interceptions.

"He (Cox) ran the offense well and got us into some good plays. He audibled one play that scored a touchdown. I think he's followed Jason Campbell's lead a little bit, understanding the running game as well as the passing game. I was happy with our progress. I think we're on schedule, but we've still got a ways to go. We're getting there. We weren't too bad the other day."

While the passing game continues to come around, the running game led by backs Tre Smith, Carl Stewart and Kenny Irons looks to be in mid-season form. The trio rushed for just under 200 yards and averaged five yards per carry in Saturday's scrimmage. Borges says that the credit for the running game belongs to an offensive line that has endured some changes this spring, but continues to gel.

Al Borges is in his second season directing the Auburn offense.

Those changes include junior Jonathan Palmer moving to center from guard and taking over for sophomore Leon Hart. A very talented and smart lineman, Hart has moved back to guard and looks like he'll challenge Ben Grubbs for a starting job next season. Borges says the most recent move has helped the offense get some continuity during practice and work more smoothly as a unit.

"I thought our offensive line played pretty good outside of some sacks," Borges says. "For the second scrimmage we ran the ball pretty good. It (moving JP to center) has helped to give us some inertia at practice. JP is more comfortable snapping the ball than Leon and Leon is so comfortable playing guard. He's done a wonderful job since we made that move. Center was completely new to him and that's a tough position to play. That move helped us get a little more rhythm."

The Tigers now get ready for the annual A-Day game that takes place this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. While most of the offensive players are healthy and scheduled to participate, Borges says that you shouldn't expect much out of the ordinary as Auburn begins to wind down the spring and head into summer workouts.

"It will be the same as last year," Borges says. "It will be simple as can be. We're not going to be very fancy. If you want to see more of what we do you'll do it in practice not in A-Day. We're not interested in showing our hand too much. Hopefully we'll get a good evaluation of the kids and see how far we've come without confusing them."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories