"It was especially tough because Jason is such a classy young man who has put everything he has into the battle to be the starter and he did everything we asked," Petrino told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "Plus, the race was as close as it could be. I have never had a more difficult decision to make on who would be the starter."
Now that Daniel Cobb has won the opportunity to be Auburn's starting quarterback, the sixth-year senior has less than two weeks to show that the coaching staff's confidence is well-founded. A year ago, Cobb got the same bad news as Campbell when then quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone selected Campbell as the number one pick prior to opening day.
"I feel for Jason because he is my friend and because I know how much he put into this," says Cobb. "Of course, this is an exciting time for me. Coach Petrino called me at lunch and asked me to come see him. He told me that I would be the starter and to just do the things I know how to do--get us into good plays and out of bad plays and not turning the ball over.:
Head coach Tommy Tuberville says he does not want to make a change and would like to see Cobb be the starter throughout the season. Cobb says that is a good feeling to know that he won't always have to be worried about losing his job over one bad play or series. "I don't feel any pressure that I am going to make a bad throw and get yanked," the senior says. "At quarterback you are going to make mistakes. What is is important is how you react to those. What Coach Petrino has really taught me is that it is the play after that that really counts."
A somber Campbell said after practice that he was disappointed in the decision, but plans to be ready to run the offense if called upon. "I will be ready to be the leader on this team," he said. Campbell added that if he gets the chance to play, he believes that he will be an improved peformer over last year.
Cobb and the Tigers returned to practice on Tuesday evening after taking a day off for the start of fall semester classes. Thunderstorms and lightning pushed back the start of the workout at the football complex that featured a full pads session as the Tigers began installing the game plan for the Labor Day opener at Southern Cal. The Tigers had full contact drills in the approximately two hours they spent outdoors. While dodging lightning, they reviewed assignments inside their indoor facility.
Cobb overcame an inconsistent 2001 performance and an even more inconsistent spring training earlier this year to move ahead of redshirt sophomore Jason Campbell, who opened and finished as last year's starter. However, Campbell struggled to consistently move the Tigers' offense. For the season, he passed for 1,117 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in eight starts and two games off the bench.
Cobb passed for 1,165 yards last season in eight games, four of those which were starts. He completed 89-158 passes for 1,165 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Prior to coming to Auburn, Cobb played one season at Butler County Community College in Kansas and helped that school win a juco national title with former Tiger tailback Rudi Johnson leading the way. Cobb passed for 2,315 yards as he completed 112-250 passes with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions that season.
Cobb (left) and freshman quarterback Wesley Hill are shown at Tuesday's practice, the first which featured Cobb as the No. 1 quarterback.
He transferred to Butler County after spending two years at the University of Georgia, where he enrolled in January 1997 as an early high school graduate out of Harrison High in Marietta, Ga., where he was a prep All-American quarterback. At Georgia, serious medical conditions involving a blood clot in his shoulder and a rib removal surgery kept him on the sidelines. By the time he was medically cleared to play, UGA had a large group of QBs competing for the job and one, Quincy Carter, had control of the starting job. That prompted Cobb to make a fresh start at Butler County in the juco ranks.
Campbell came to Auburn in the fall of 2000 as a prep All-American out of Taylorsville, Miss., High School. He led his team to the state title his junior year with 2,719 passing yards, hitting 174-291. As a heavily recruited senior, he was named Player of the Year in Mississippi as he completed 167-293 passes for 2,884 yards and 24 touchdowns for a team that made the state semi-finals. He added six rushing touchdowns and more than 500 yards on the ground.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Petrino said he hopes that Cobb steps up and proves all season he can handle the offense and then Campbell comes forward and develops into a two-year starter as a junior and senior.