QB Looking to Be Steady in His 2nd SEC Start

Brandon Cox is ready for a return to the starting quarterback role.

Auburn, Ala.--Behind quarterback Brandon Cox, the Auburn Tigers aim to extend their conference winning streak to 12 games as they play the South Carolina Gamecocks, the first of seven consecutive SEC teams to close the season.

Cox will be throwing against a secondary, which led by All-SEC safety Ko Simpson is arguably the most athletic group that the Tigers have faced in 2005.

"They've changed up their defense a little bit since the start of the season," Cox says. "Just watching this Troy game, they had a different defensive package so we'll have to watch a little extra film on them to know what they're going to bring. They've got some athletes and they're an SEC team so they're going to be good.

"It's an SEC game and it's not hard getting up for an SEC game," he adds. ‘It's a different season and we're the defending champions. We've got go to our there and defend our title."

The Gamecocks might have lots of athletes in the secondary, but their front seven has struggled so far this year allowing an average of 199 yards per game on the ground. In their two league games, they allowed 238 yards on the ground to Georgia and 338 to Alabama.

"They had trouble stopping the run early in the season," Cox says. "Against Troy they started putting eight or nine guys in the box trying to stop the run and playing looser coverage with the corners. I'm sure that's what they're going to do against us--stop the run and make us pass. I'm looking forward to it and maybe we can throw the ball around a little bit."

Cox's development as the starting quarterback in 2005 has been filled with ups and downs. On opening night against Georgia Tech he threw for an Auburn record for a first-time starting quarterback with 342 yards. He also threw four interceptions and fumbled twice. The 23-14 loss snapped Auburn's 15-game winning streak.

Since then he recovered with solid games in wins against Mississippi State (28-0) and Ball State (63-3) before sitting out the Western Kentucky game with a stomach virus. For the year he has thrown for 715 yards while completing 62 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and four interceptions.

Brandon Cox has three college starts going into Saturday night's contest.

Through four weeks of the 2005 season, sophomore SEC quarterbacks have posted an 8-11 overall record. Senior quarterbacks in the league are 14-2 and junior QBs are 6-2. All four of the undefeated teams in the league--Georgia, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Florida--have either a senior or junior under center. Cox, a sophomore, says that the difference between the upperclassmen and younger guys is all about mistakes.

"With me, I've got a lot of guys around me who have experience," he says. "As long I don't make mistakes, like I did in the first game, I think we'll be all right. That's what is tough with a first-year guy--not used to the speed and not used to keeping the team out of hairy situations like I did that first game. I've just got to learn from it and continue to not make turnovers like I did. As long as I do that we'll be all right."

Cox adds that his team's growing success is indicative of his improvements.

"We've improved and taken a few steps forward," he says. "A lot of people say it's been against some mediocre teams but it's tough to go out there and play your game against teams like that. We've done a good job and built some confidence offensively. We're looking to carry that over this week."

Kickoff for Saturday's game at Jordan-Hare Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT.

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