Field Of Dreams For Freshman Quarterback?

Auburn's search for a backup to Brandon Cox is in full swing and this freshman is hoping to win the job.

Auburn, Ala.-–For redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Field a year makes a lot of difference. In fact, a few weeks into fall practice seems like night and day for the strong-armed Cairo, Ga., native.

Struggling to find his way last season on the scout team alongside fellow freshman Calvin Booker, Field didn't have the type of spring practice he was looking for either, but vowed that he would improve before fall practice began.

Throwing all summer and watching as much film as possible, he has improved during preseason practice and is locked in a two-way battle with Booker for the backup job behind starter Brandon Cox heading into the final week of practice before game preparations begin in earnest for Georgia Tech.

"I'm a lot farther along than I was," Field says. "A lot farther long. I know how to look at the defense and how to check off plays. I'm not completely there yet, but Coach is still working with me and I'm still trying to learn.

"Whenever I walk to the line for a play I can see it. I can see how it's going to work or not going to work compared to only seeing a bunch of big guys on the other side coming after me."

QB coach Al Borges and head coach Tommy Tuberville look on as Field sprints out to pass during a recent practice. Tuberville notes that Field looks to have a slight edge over Booker in the battle for the No. 2 spot.

Something that helped Field in his development was the chance to sit in on meetings and watch Jason Campbell learn and execute the offense last season. Despite having to learn Al Borges' offense on the run, Campbell went on to become the SEC Player of the Year and a first-round draft choice of the Washington Redskins. Field says that his success last season gives him confidence that he can get the job done.

"Jason was amazing," Field says. "He went through what--four coordinators--and he had to learn a new offense every year. Having to learn this offense, this is a very complicated offense, but once you get it down to the basics it's very simple and common sense. Coach Borges makes it easy for us, but it's complicated to opponents. Getting to watch Jason and how he improved, if he can do it in a year why can't I. That's what I have to go off of."

While watching helps the learning process, nothing is as good for learning as getting into the action and garnering experience. That's something that Field and Booker have had the chance to do this preseason as Cox has taken three days off from practice to rest a tired arm. Field says having the chance to work with the first-team offense has made him a better player in the limited snaps he's gotten with them.

"It has helped a lot," Field says. "The first team, the reason they are the first team is because they know what they're doing. It has helped a lot because we get to see how the actual rhythm of a play is instead of being knocked off balance by an outside blitz or someone misses a block. We've actually been able to see how it is supposed to work out. It's helped.

"I still have a lot of things to work on, but I feel a lot more confident than I used to," Field says. "When we have certain check-offs I was always nervous of Coach in the background screaming ‘No!, No!, No!' stopping me from making the wrong play call. Now whenever I make a play check he doesn't say anything. That boosts my confidence a little bit, but I still have a lot to work on. I'm going to do it. I'm going to get in the classroom and get it done."

Auburn's offensive coordinator, Al Borges, has an on the field conversation with the quarterback.

Borges had repeatedly said that he wants to get the backup named heading into game week, which gives Field roughly 10 days to make his move and prove himself worthy of being Cox's backup. For Field that is plenty of time and he says he's anxious to get back to work.

"This next week is huge," Field says. "I can't lose track. I just have to get to work and stay on pace and not lose concentration. That's what Coach wants us to do is keep pushing. He hasn't made a decision yet and I'm not sure when he's going to make a decision. All I know is I have to keep going."

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