Borges Standing By His Man

The Tammy Wynette way of thinking worked for Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges in Saturday's 55-20 victory over New Mexico State.

Auburn, Ala.--Brandon Cox had struggled and even been booed by the home team in recent losses to South Florida and Mississippi State. However, Al Borges has stood by his man and Cox did a 180 from his performances in recent weeks. True freshman quarterback Kodi Burns got the start and commanded the offense for the first three series, which included two three-and-outs, but the Aggies loaded the box and Borges went with his veteran.

"The one thing about getting benched is that there are two ways to handle it," Borges explains. "One, you can go in the tank, be disgruntled or be a cancer. Generally that gets you nowhere other than keeping you on the bench or off the team. The other way is to keep your head up and be as positive as you possibly can knowing and hoping that you'll get another opportunity. He chose the latter, prepared just like he was starting, and when he came in--other than the first play--he really didn't miss a beat and he managed the game like he had for the last two years. When he had time he was very accurate with the ball."

The Aggies, after seeing Burns run the read and option out of the shotgun last week against Mississippi State, loaded the box against the true freshman and forced the pass. Burns took advantage and hit Rod Smith for a 58-yard touchdown on the third series of the game. With the Aggies continuing to crowd the line, the Auburn offensive coaches decided it would be best to go with Cox, the better passer and game manager.

The Tigers lone turnover of the game came on Cox's first snap as the center/quarterback exchange was mishandled. After that point Cox was sharp and effective, completing 13-19 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

A majority of his audibles were also successful for chunks of yardage.

"We were going to play Kodi to see how he could do and how it went," Borges says of the rotation. "He really laid out a nice ball and threw a touchdown pass, but we were sputtering a bit. It was a good time to change things up and see how it went. We were kind of doing it by feel. We didn't have a set plan of when Brandon was going to go in or when we were going to take Kodi out."

Burns, who was actually pulled after his 58-yard TD until late in the game, says he understands the situation and is just trying to do what is asked of him.

"It was kind of play-by-play," Burns notes. "They were kind of stacking the line. We gashed them with the long pass play--a touchdown pass play to Rod Smith. Coach noticed that they were stacking the line and they felt like we needed to put Brandon in and give him a chance, see what he can do and see if he can get those wrinkles out. He went out and had a great game."

Burns got the start against New Mexico State and had a decent game in limited time, but will he be a part of the rotation next Saturday at Florida?

"I have no clue," he says. "That's up to the coaches. He's a senior, so I'm sure the coaches will be leaning a little towards him and that's great. That's how it should be. It's his team and he's the senior quarterback. Either way it goes is fine with me."

Borges says that decision will likely be decided over after watching the film and coming up with a game plan for the Gators.

"We'll decide that tomorrow," he notes. "I've got to talk to Tommy (Tuberville) about it, but he (Cox) has put himself back in the mix pretty heavily, I'm sure."

As for Cox, he looked like the 2005 version on Saturday after being much less than effective for the most part of the stretch run of 2006 season and beginning 2007.

"He prepared with his head up," Borges says. "He's had some bad luck to this point. Some of it he's made, but some of it he hasn't. Tonight he didn't have any bad luck. He's kept a great attitude about the whole thing. Naturally you're going to be down--that's human nature. He didn't stay down and when he got the chance to prove himself he took advantage of it."


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