Backup Quarterbacks Have Better Day

Quarterbacks Brandon Cox, Neil Caudle and Steven Ensminger discuss Saturday's scrimmage.

Auburn, Ala.--Fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Cox, a two-year starter, is obviously the No. 1 quarterback for the 2007 season. With little to no experience behind him, the big question is over the backup spot. Junior Blake Field has missed most of the spring with tendinitis in his shoulder, including Saturday's scrimmage, and redshirt freshmen Neil Caudle and Steven Ensminger have been inconsistent.

In Auburn's second scrimmage of the spring, both of the redshirts struggled early but came on late. Caudle put up some eye-popping stats, but struggled against the first and second team defenses.

"After the first drive I got more comfortable and I started making good plays," he explains. "I think I did pretty good. I improved from last week, which is all you can do. I had a few good throws and a few mistakes but overall I think I had a pretty good day."

Caudle threw 10 times, completing six for 163 yards and two touchdowns. However, 137 of those yards came on consecutive possessions while Greg Smith was the only scholarship player on the field with 10 walk-ons. He found Luster Lewis for a touchdown on a well-thrown fade pass that went for 64 yards. On the next possession the big play came on a bootleg strike over the middle to Tommy Trott, who was tackled 42 yards later by his high school teammate Austin Hoyt.

After a pair of Ben Tate runs, Caudle had good timing and accuracy as he found John Cubelic in the end zone between the cornerback and the safety for another TD.

Josh Hebert picked of Caudle earlier in the scrimmage on a poor throw. "I've been up and down a little bit this spring," Caudle says. "I still have one more week but overall it's been successful. I still make a few stupid mistakes--not making the right reads, not making the right throws when I have open receivers. Just being inconsistent but it's improving since last week and it'll improve some more next week."

Caudle rushed three times for seven yards.

Ensminger, who led the Tigers on several long drives, played perhaps his sharpest ball of the spring.

"I made some progress and made some good calls," he explains. "It was just good to see progress from last week. I think I'm getting a lot better and learning to make the right reads. We just need to look at the film of last week and this scrimmage and see what I can do to improve on. I haven't thrown a pick yet so that's one thing that I hope to continue.

"It's all friendly competition out there and we're helping each other," Ensminger adds. "We're at the same level right now and we both just have to get a little better."

Ensminger finished 7-16 for 129 yards with a pair of strikes over the middle to Montez Billings (17 yards) and Terrell Zachery (22 yards). His biggest completion was for a gain of 37 to James Swinton, but it was underthrown and could have been a bigger play.

Cox, who also had a solid day, says that the younger guys played all right. "They're progressing," he notes. "That's what you need out of them. They're not taking any steps back. They're moving forward each day and they both came out and had a pretty good day."

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