Sophomore starter Brandon Cox had played in just seven games last season with none of them in crunch time. Thanks to an illness to Cox last weekend that thrust redshirt freshman Blake Field into the lineup, the Tigers have gone from inexperience to a point of relative strength in just four games.
"I would be a little less nervous," Borges said if he needed to play Field again. "I was very concerned with an early injury, not because I didn't think these kids can play quarterback. I think Booker (Calvin Booker) and Field are both going to be good quarterbacks.
"You'll be writing about them someday other than about this game. But, because they needing more weaning, more time, more seasoning, all I was hoping was that we could get Cox through a few games and keep him healthy and then I could continue to train the other kids, which at the end of the day has always turned out pretty good for your backup. I was hoping it wouldn't be this early, but it turned out good. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.
For his part Field turned in a very good performance for a quarterback who didn't know he was going to start until less than an hour before kickoff. Throwing for 200 yards and three touchdowns, Field did a good job and Borges said that taking everything into account it was a solid outing for the North Florida Christian product.
"I'm going to tell you something, they are going to downplay our opponent with Western Kentucky, but they're a good little football team," Borges said. "They run good on defense and were well-coached. They were a nice test for us when you consider it was our backup quarterback playing. Were they out-manned? Yeah, I'm not going to lie to anybody. We're Auburn and we better be able to beat Western Kentucky. By the same token, for what our situation was it was a nice test for us and a nice test for Blake."
Cox is expected back this week for the South Carolina game.
Expected back at Tuesday's practice and for Saturday night's 6 o'clock kickoff on ESPN2 against South Carolina, Cox has been solid since an opening night struggle against Georgia Tech. For the season the left-hander has thrown for 715 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions, all against the Yellow Jackets. Borges said that Cox has improved since the opener and he doesn't think missing Saturday's game will be a big deal to his sophomore.
"I don't see it as a problem and I don't think he'll see it as a problem," Borges said. "He'll take it like he does everything else, he'll take it with a grain of salt. He was rolling along pretty good and I was hoping that we would continue that with him this last week, but I don't think he'll miss a beat. I certainly hope not. As long as he feels good, and it certainly looks like he does."
This weekend Cox and the Tigers will face a defense that has struggled against the run so far this season. It wasn't unexpected against teams such as Georgia and Alabama, but last week the Troy Trojans continued that with 187 rushing yards against the Gamecocks. Although five sacks accounted for 50 yards in losses, Borges expects a little different defense this weekend from the one that featured players standing up and moving around before the snap.
"They weren't doing much of that last week," Borges said. "So I'm preparing for everything. They've changed a little bit schematically in this last game. I think they were having some trouble stopping the run. They've shifted gears a little bit. We're going to show the kids pretty much everything they've done. It will be a little of the standing-up stuff, a little 4-3, a little 4-4, whatever."
USC coach Steve Spurrier in his his first season with the Gamecocks.
No matter what the defense does you can expect to see a wide open offense come into Jordan-Hare Stadium led by coach Steve Spurrier. Although he doesn't have the weapons of old when his Florida teams were the class of the league, Borges knows his old USFL coaching nemesis will have his team ready to play come Saturday night.
"They play hard," Borges said. "I think he's got them where they believe now they can win some games. Maybe they believed that before, but we haven't played them before and I have never played South Carolina so I don't know much about them.
"He's got them where they're convinced they can win games. Just in that regard they're a threat. He's going to through what a lot of guys have gone through. He's trying to get them thinking like he thinks. Now I just hope they don't start thinking that way this week."