That's not a situation Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville and new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino had envisioned. They had hoped either Campbell or Cobb would make a move to nail down the starting job by the end of spring practice that was capped with a Cobb-led White team 21-17 win over the Blue squad Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
If the decision was based simply on the A-Day game, Cobb would have the upper hand, just as he did the previous A-Day. He repeated as the A-Day offensive Most Valuable Player Saturday based on 13 completions in 25 attempts for 182 yards and an eight-yard touchdown toss to Silas Daniels.
"If you would go off today, Daniel Cobb had a heck of a day," Tuberville said. "He threw the ball with authority, ran around and made plays, and was consistent."
But, as Tuberville and Petrino explained, the quarterback battle is far from over. Campbell went into the A-Day game as signal caller for the first-unit offense, but struggled at times. Campbell finished with 10 completions on 21 attempts for 123 yards. He had no touchdowns or interceptions.
"Coach Petrino and I will sit down and look at who might be the guy going into two-a-days in August," Tuberville said after the A-Day game. "That probably won't make a lot of difference because that situation can change."
Petrino was even less definitive than Tuberville. "It's a long process to make a decision on the quarterback," commented Petrino, who said all spring practices, not just A-Day, will be considered in evaluating the quarterbacks.
Daniel Cobb threw the only touchdown pass of the A-Day Game and outplayed Jason Campbell.
"We have to look at who the quarterbacks are in there against. Sometimes, the guy who has been the most successful has been going against the number-two defense. That number-one defense is good, and makes it tougher on the quarterback."
Petrino added, "I think we will just end spring practice, then go back and evaluate it all to see where they're at. Someone will have to take that first snap when we get here in August. I'm not sure who that will be right now. We might split repetitions and let them continue to compete. Hopefully, that won't last more than a week. We've got to get that decision made and let the one take it over."
Cobb entered two-a-days in 2001 as the starting quarterback, but was overtaken by Campbell when the season opened. Later in the season, Cobb relieved Campbell as the starter. The season ended with Campbell back in a starting role.
Cobb, who was granted a medical redshirt that will allow him to play as a rare sixth-year senior in 2002, did throw two interceptions Saturday, a propensity that put him back on the bench behind Campbell last year. One of interceptions Saturday was poorly thrown (a pick by walk-on Lamel Ages), the other came on a deflection after his receiver slipped down.
"It could have been better today," Cobb admitted. "There were a couple I wish I had back, but overall I thought the offense performed well. If we hadn't moved the ball, I would be very concerned because the defense was playing a base and not doing the things they do best, like blitzing and disguising coverages."
Cobb knows that just because he had a solid A-Day game, a decision about a starting quarterback is far from a done deal. "The coaches are not going to make a decision they aren't comfortable with, and I don't think either of us want them to make a decision just to make a decision. I feel like the job could go to either one of us."
Tuberville praised Campbell and Cobb for improvement this spring, especially in the area of leadership. "That's (leadership) something we didn't have last year. That was probably because they were nervous and were trying to feel their way around.
Campbell knows the situation. He went through similar scenario last year when he was a redshirt freshman.
Jason Campbell completed just 10 passes on Saturday.
"I have to focus on getting better," Campbell said. "I thought I played well today, but didn't get a chance to scramble and make big plays after the second quarter when I pulled a hamstring. It was bothering me and I was scared to go full stride and really mess it up. Overall, I did pretty good, but it could have been a whole lot better."
At this point, Campbell said he has no idea who will be the starter. "We didn't know last year until after the second week of practice before we played Ball State in the first game. I'm going to concentrate on being prepared when two-a-days begin and stay focused on the job at hand."