Campbell Gets The Bad News This Time

In a reversal of fortune from last fall at this time, quarterback Daniel Cobb was named Auburn's starting quarterback on Tuesday ahead of sophomore Jason Campbell.

Auburn, Ala.--After fighting tooth-and-nail down to the wire in a battle for the starting job, in the end offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino said Cobb came out doing more of the things they were looking for at the quarterback position.

"We just evaluated the whole process," Petrino said. "It has been very close. I don't know if I've ever been involved in one where they were as close as these two guys are. We evaluated them all spring, the spring game, what they did all summer long, all the way up to the scrimmage the other day. I'm not sure if it shifted at one point or another. I just feel like it's the best thing to do right now."

That means Campbell takes over the role as backup quarterback for the Tigers to open the 2002 season. After starting the opener last fall as a redshirt freshman and the majority of the season, the Taylorsville, Miss., native has to become accustomed to beginning the season looking up at the depth chart. That is something he says he'll get used to but it won't stop him from carrying on his day-to-day activities on the football field.

"Coach sat down with me and talked with me to tell me what was going on," Campbell said. "He told me to continue to work in practice and to try to get better in whatever aspects I need to improve on. I have to stay focused and continue to work because I have to be ready at all times.

"You always have to prepare yourself as if you were the starter. You never know, the next guy may go down, something dramatic may happen. You don't ever know, you just always have to prepare yourself as if you were going into the game starting. That's anybody on any level. That's one thing I have to do. I have to pay attention in meetings and be ready."

While his statistics actually were better than Cobb's in each of the two fall scrimmages, the coaches evaluated not only the scrimmages but every fall practice to see how each of the players not only performed under pressure but read defenses under pressure. In the end that may have been the deciding factor because of Cobb's experience and veteran mentality on the field.

Running things in Saturday's final scrimmage, Campbell missed three crucial checks at the line of scrimmage that may have spelled the end of the quarterback race. On a team searching for all the offense it can muster, the decisions by the quarterback must be quick and decisive. And those go not only for the passing game, but almost more importantly, the running game.

"Actually, what we ask them to do is to get out of a bad play and we wound up running about three bad plays that we had planned on getting out of versus that kind of look that (defensive coordinator) Gene (Chizik) was giving us," Petrino noted. "That didn't happen. That was just one part of the entire evaluation, but that is something we're going to have to be very good at in our running game."

Unlike in years' past when coaches tried to get younger quarterbacks involved in the offense for their time to come down the line, Petrino and Tuberville both said they're not going to put in things just for Jason's benefit on offense. Wanting this to be Daniel's team if at all possible, Campbell will have to bide his time until he gets the call. Whether that is this fall or the next, Campbell seems ready to do what it takes to be successful.

"We would love to get him in the game and let him play but we're not going to game plan certain plays or rotate anybody," Tuberville said. "It would have to be a situation where there was an injury or we felt like we needed a shot in the arm. We're strictly going to let Daniel go with it and see what he can do. Hopefully, he can make the best of it."

If he doesn't Campbell will be close behind to take over the reigns for the Tigers.

"Anytime you go out and set your goals and you are competing, only one guy can win," Campbell said. "It's something that didn't go my way, but all I can do is to continue to stay focused and continue to work hard."

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