Starting Quarterback Remains A Mystery

The quarterback situation is up in the air for the Tigers this week as they enjoy an off-week after a busy first month of the season.

Auburn, Ala.--Saying that there wasn't any rush to say who's going to be the starter for the Auburn Tigers at quarterback against the Arkansas Razorbacks next Saturday, offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino said Wednesday following a two-hour practice in full pads that Jason Campbell definitely put himself in the running after his performance in the comeback win against Syracuse.

"I'm real proud that Jason has worked very hard," Petrino said. "He never put his head down. He's always done a good job preparing himself. All his tests each week have been very good. I though in the Western Carolina game that he looked real comfortable out there, I know his stats were real good…The thing I was impressed with was that he was really competing. We told them that part of the second half was going to be up to the quarterback's ability to run the ball. They were doing some things where it was critical for us to be able to make some plays running the ball and I thought he competed real hard at it. He did a good job with his enthusiasm in the huddle and really helped us come back."

Jason Campbell

In evaluating Cobb's performance Saturday night before leaving the game with a sprained ankle, Petrino said the senior did some good things and some of the mistakes weren't entirely his fault. Of particular note was the interception near the goal line when he attempted to throw to Silas Daniels. The sophomore ran the wrong route causing Cobb's pass to be easily intercepted. Still Petrino said Cobb didn't play the way he has to for this team to be successful, particularly throwing the football.

"He just wasn't doing a good job stepping into the throw," Petrino said. "A couple of things flashed in front of him and that's when you have to transfer your weight and step into the throw because if you don't, if you fall away, the ball is going to sail on you. That happened three times before his ankle injury and one after. That's not acceptable and he knows that. He's shown that he'll do it but he didn't do it the other night."

Daniel Cobb

No matter who the quarterback is the focus of their training from Petrino this week in practice is going to be minimizing mistakes. Giving up three turnovers Saturday night was something that the first-year coordinator said can't happen with this offensive team in the future. But that doesn't mean toning down the offense to keep it simple and avoid those mistakes.

"We need to spread it around because we have other weapons to use (in addition to Carnell Williams)," Petrino noted. "I would like to see some of the other running backs carry the ball some. I'm still waiting for the receivers to make more plays after the catch. It was good to see Marcel (Willis) do it the other night. We need to create more plays that way."

Back practicing after two days off, the Tigers were able to get several banged-up players back on the field including Cobb. Still a little sore after getting sandwiched by two Orangemen defenders in the second quarter and rolling his ankle, he said that he was able to get some things done today and expects to be ready to play next Saturday.

"It feels a lot better than it did Saturday night," Cobb said of his ankle after Tuesday's practice. "I think as long as it keeps improving at this rate I'll be good to go. I was able to step and throw and do some movement drills. That was a lot more than I could have done at all on Saturday night."

While the decision could remain a secret until kickoff next Saturday, Campbell said the coaches haven't really said anything to him about the starting spot and it won't change his preparation for the game.

"They haven't said anything about it," Campbell said. "I'm just trying to stay focused and go out there everyday and work on the things I need to work on to get better…I'm just trying to continue to watch film and continue to learn defenses and read defenses the best I can. We just want to continue doing the things we've been doing since the beginning of the season.

Karlos Dansby and Jay Ratliff cover a punt during Tuesday's practice. After Saturday night's performance on special teams the Tigers spent an extra amount of time on that part of the game in practice.

With an off-week before hosting the Razorbacks, the coaching staff began using the extra practice time to polish up on the fundamental side of the game that has been missing from the Tigers through the first five games. Without much practice time at all between games, the players have mostly focused on the game plans each week and that has left them behind on the technique work. Things such as the blocking sled for the offensive line and the pass rush dummies for the defensive line were back in full force Tuesday much to the delight of the coaches.

The Tigers will practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before taking Saturday off. The will return to practice Sunday to begin the normal workweek in preparation for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

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