Backup QB Jobs Still Open Borges Says

Auburn's Al Borges talks about the offensive performance in the first scrimmage and the race for the backup quarterback job.

Auburn, Ala.--After having a day to go over the video from Saturday's first scrimmage of preseason practice, Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges said that while he saw some good things out of his unit there is still a long way to go in the grand scheme of things before its ready for the upcoming season.

"We're not a well-oiled machine by any means," Borges says. "We've got a little ways to go. We had good effort at times and had a couple of guys make some nice plays. We're just not there yet. The good news is we've got a lot of time to get there. We've just got to keep working on what we're doing.

"We're no longer in much of an install mode," he adds. "We're pretty much in a review mode. Generally when you get to that things start getting better because guys get to rep the plays more. I think that's what happens."

As the quarterback coach, Borges got a chance to see not only starter Brandon Cox in action but the other four quarterbacks that are in a race to see who winds up as the backup and number three man heading into the season. That could be working itself out by injury at the moment though as Neil Caudle went down in Saturday's full contact scrimmage with what Coach Tommy Tuberville described as a slightly separated shoulder. That could keep him out up to four weeks and possibly longer. Fellow redshirt freshman Steven Ensminger missed Sunday's practice with a sore shoulder as well.

Kodi Burns, Brandon Cox and Blake Field got all the reps in Sunday night's practice.

Without them on the field, the snaps all went to Blake Field and Kodi Burns with the second and third unit. Borges says it's obviously an advantage for them to be on the field at the moment but it doesn't mean the race is over.

"It's still pretty wide open," Borges says. "We've got a couple of injuries today so we were only working three guys but it's still pretty much where it was. It doesn't really affect things (the injuries) depending on how quickly they can get back. If they don't get back it can affect them."

After evaluating the video of his quarterbacks, Borges says that all of them had some bright spots but there were some questionable moments as well. That's particularly true behind Cox where he's still looking for answers.

"I don't know if they graded out any better," Borges says. "Everybody kind of had flashes. Neil didn't play but only 7 plays but the ones he played he didn't do too bad. Blake Field had a pretty solid scrimmage. Kodi is still learning the offense but has a little escape dimension to him. Steven Ensminger did some nice things. It wasn't anything where we could say ‘one guy is definitely the best guy'. We're not at that point yet."

As the Tigers head into the final week of two-a-day practices and the start of classes, things take on a different feel as the team will begin practicing behind the athletic complex on Friday. The second scrimmage of the preseason will then take place on Saturday. In getting ready for that, Borges says there are some positives to build on for his unit.

"We didn't do anything well consistently but we showed some flashes of doing some things well," Borges says. "We didn't have a lot of sacks and the quarterbacks were live, which is good news. The other thing about yesterday is we focused on throwing the ball more than we would normally simply because we are trying to find a backup quarterback. We're not really well-oiled in the passing game but I don't think anyone really is at this stage of practice."

One player that has caught the eye of Borges already is wide receiver Chris Slaughter. Although he was late in getting to Auburn after being held up by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Slaughter has been thrown into the offense and has shown he may have the ability to help the Tigers in some small part right away.

"He's doing a good job," Borges says. "He's only been here a couple of days and he's gotten a baptism by fire but he shows a lot of skill. Even when he makes a mistake, he made a mistake in the scrimmage and made a great catch. We know he can do it."


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