Burns Adds Spark In Collegiate Debut

Auburn freshman quarterback Kodi Burns discusses his play vs. the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Auburn, Ala.--Freshman quarterback Kodi Burns knew all week long he would see some action this Saturday; he just didn't know how much.

With a little more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter against Mississippi State on Saturday, starting QB Brandon Cox threw his second interception of the game.

As soon as State's Anthony Johnson grabbed the ball, Burns was Auburn's new quarterback.

When Auburn fans realized No. 18 was running onto the field, the crowd went wild. Auburn students began chanting, "Kodi! Kodi! Kodi!"

Burns immediately ignited Auburn's sputtering offense with his speed and energy. He kept the ball himself on his first play, rushing for just two yards, but Auburn fans loved it.

"I knew what I had to go out there and do," Burns said. "We had practiced a few plays with me, and they were pretty successful. But we didn't win, so we've just got to get better."

Burns said he had practiced at both the No. 1 and No. 2 offensive units all week and expected to play. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the true freshman hasn't had enough time to learn the whole playbook so he was limited to a handful of plays in the game.

"When I went in we had a few plays designed for me," he said. Burns said he thinks he knows about 75 percent of the Auburn offense, but the coaches apparently only felt comfortable running a few plays with him at the helm.

When Mississippi State's defense began picking up on his limited repertoire too easily in the fourth quarter, Auburn quarterback coach Al Borges put Brandon Cox back in for the final drive.

"You can't give him the whole playbook for goodness sakes," Borges said. "That's the only thing that gave him a chance to succeed is that we didn't overload him. And we may or may not expand on that depending on what we see and what we think we need to do. We started so bad and we needed to be energized, and he did a good job of doing that."

Burns rushed 22 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. His longest run was for 28 yards. He also completed eight-of-12 passes for 65 yards. He was intercepted once.

Now, head coach Tommy Tuberville and Borges have a big decision to make: Go with the freshman and hope he catches onto the offense quickly or return to Cox and hope he gets over whatever is ailing him. Right now, both coaches are saying only that they will watch film and then decide.

"I don't know," Tuberville said. "I though Kodi gave us an opportunity, but when you only have so much offense to run eventually they caught up to it. Kodi did a good job. He'll be better each week. We'll have to look at film and see where we're at. We're not going to panic."

Tuberville said he thought about putting Burns back in on Auburn's last drive of the game, but decided to stay with Cox."We thought about it, but there were only three, four, five plays that he knew. I thought about the urgency of getting him down there."

Tuberville sighed wearily. "Hindsight…you know?"

Meanwhile, Burns said his debut in Division I football didn't faze him–not the crowd noise, the speed of the game, nor the size of the opponent.

"It's no problem," he said. "You have to block all that out. I've been on the sidelines for three games so the crowd noise didn't really bother me. I was pretty confident. The speed of the game was a little bit faster, but the blockers are better so you've got time and you've got protection to get the balls to your playmakers."

Burns admits he made a few mistakes.

"I threw a few passes a little bit too late--a lot of fingertip balls and screens behind the guys, but that's something I have to work on. I feel like I'll be pretty prepared. A lot of these things just take time and repetition. The more repetition I get the better I'll be. I know the whole offense, but just different checks and things and this West Coast offense is pretty hard to do. Right now I'm just a novice and trying to learn everyday."

Kodi Burns completed8-12 passes for 65 yards and threw one interception.

Burns said he will be happy no matter who the coaches decide to play next week.

"As a player you want to be out there, but I knew when they put Brandon in that things would be fine," Burns said. "I was so proud of Cox, the way he kept his head up even through the adversity. I just look up to him a lot. Ever since I've been here he's been like a big brother to me. He's helped me out. I look up to him. He was encouraging me a lot. He was telling me the offense, helping me out. This West Coast offense is real hard to learn. He's been here five years, and I'm just trying to learn under him."

Burns said it meant the world to him when Cox greeted him with a huge hug after he scored.

"That meant a lot," he said. "He's a fifth-year senior and a freshman comes in and for him to still be smiling and encouraging me, that says a lot for his character. He's an amazing person."

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