Auburn, Ala.--Coming out of Auburn's second preseason scrimmage heading into the 2007 season, one question that seems to be answered is the question of the backup quarterback.
Junior Blake Field has once again earned the number two spot behind starter Brandon Cox. While he didn't have his best night on Friday in the second major preseason scrimmage, Field notes that he has had a very solid camp to this point.
"Personally I don't think I did as good as I did in the last scrimmage," he says. "Coach Borges came and told me, ‘Blake you had a really good week. You didn't do as good as I expected in the scrimmage, but you still made the plays.' I just underthrew and overthrew a few balls, but we still moved the ball and scored on a couple of drives. We ran the ball really well."
An ultra-competitive player and a coach's son, Field knows all about the importance of playing well when your opportunity arises. Each of the last two years, Field has beaten out all challengers to become Auburn's second quarterback. He says this year has been different though because now he's a little older and approached things much differently than ever before.
"I have been competing for the last three years and now I'm kind of over it," Field says. "I made it a point where it's going to be kind of selfish for me this year. I just wanted to get myself better instead of trying to beat somebody else out. I just wanted to get better and beat my old self. Coach Tub (Tommy Tuberville) says to practice like we're the number one and that's what I try to do every single day.
"Like I said before two-a-days started, I was going to try to be more mature about everything and slow myself down and study a lot more," Field adds. "That's what I've done. I study a lot more and I go home at look over everything we've met about so that whenever we get in the situation to change a call then I know exactly what to do."
Field throws a pass during a recent practice.
Knowing the offense inside and out is definitely an advantage for Field this season as he has held off challenges from a pair of redshirt freshmen in Neil Caudle and Steven Ensminger as well as true freshman Kodi Burns. Field says by watching Cox in action each of the last two years it has helped his game and he's ready to do whatever it takes to win games this season.
Part of his job as the backup will be paying close attention to everything that goes on in games to try to help Cox and Borges out as much as he can. He says that he never hesitates to give his opinion to Cox about a certain coverage or read he's getting from the sideline that could help the quarterback make a better decision on the field.
His time on the sidelines has also given him a different perspective on how to play the game. It hasn't changed his delivery nor has it changed his technique, but it has changed the way he approaches the game and it's something he says just has to be learned as a quarterback on this level.
"Borges always tells us 'once you start rushing yourself that's when you get in trouble,'" Field says. "When you start rushing everything you don't see everything like you're supposed to. You're supposed to go through your first, second, third and fourth reads just like that. It's supposed to be really smooth and you're supposed to sense everything around you...you just have to feel it and move around in the pocket and go through your reads."
Cox notes that Field thought he won the backup job in spring training and was surprised when the coaching staff announced the number two spot was still up for grabs going into preseason.
"I know he won in the spring and he thought that was it," says Cox. "He thought he had proved it to the coaches, but obviously they didn't have enough confidence in him throughout the summer and they opened it back up and he went out there and proved it again.
"Hopefully now he has proved," Cox adds. "I have all of the confidence in him and I think the guys on the team have a lot more confidence in him seeing how he has played through fall camp."
As the Tigers prepare for the opener against Kansas State, Field says he's not concerned about anything other than getting ready for the Wildcats. That has been made more difficult with a recurring tendonitis problem in his right bicep that has flared up during two-a-days. While he admits it's a concern to him at times, Field says that once the Tigers settle into the season he believes he'll be just fine.
"We're treating on it and taking care of it," Field says. "I'm a little worried but we have one of the best trainers in the SEC. I believe we'll get it taken care of. We're doing a lot of throwing in this camp so once we get into the season it will calm down a lot more."