Auburn, Ala.--The offensive plan for the Auburn Tigers coming into Saturday's game with I-AA opponent Tennessee Tech was for the starters to play the first quarter and then the reserves take over and finish the game. It didn't quite work out that way as the starters lasted one minute into the second, but for Coach Al Borges things worked out pretty well.
Playing just a handful of offensive snaps, starting quarterback Brandon Cox was 9-11 passing for 167 yards and one touchdown in three series. Borges says that although he wasn't on the field for long, Cox led the first offense exactly as he had hoped.
"Cox has been sharp early the last I don't know how many games," Borges says. "He's very confident. We had good pass protection. He's a very good quarterback. I think he's proven that."
After that it was time for the back up quarterbacks to get some work. Kodi Burns, Blake Field and Neil Caudle all saw some time during Saturday's game with Field playing the best. For the game Field was 6-11 for 92 yards and a touchdown and Borges says he did some good things.
"He made a couple of nice throws," Borges says of Field. "He bailed out on a third down and hit a guy on a crossing route on a real nice play. Then on the touchdown pass he just drilled it in to Robert Dunn."
Running back Ben Tate had a tough day on the ground for the Tigers, but did score a touchdown.
Burns wasn't as good. Looking flustered for really the first time this season, Burns admitted after the game that he probably put too much pressure on himself to perform this week and it showed. Failing to complete a pass in four attempts, Burns ran for 11 yards on three attempts and Borges says it was a tough day for the true freshman, but he'll get better.
"He had a couple of bad throws, but I think he was very composed," Borges says. "He was handling our offense really good. We've just got to get him shored up fundamentally a little bit. That's the only problem. The kid really has a good arm and is going to be a good passer. He just needs some fundamental work."
Getting his first career action was the redshirt freshman Caudle. Attempting just three passes and completing none with one interception, it wasn't a great debut for the Birmingham native, but Borges says it was just nice to get everyone involved.
"We wanted to get them all in there at one time or another if at all possible," Borges says. "It worked out pretty good. He got his feet wet.
"We played a lot of people," Borges adds. "I think we only played our starters until we hit 21 points and then we played a lot of people. What comes with that is a lot of mistakes. The kids kept playing hard and did some things today. When some of these guys gain some experience I think it might help us down the road. I'm not sure when, but at one point in time."
The one downside to Saturday's performance offensively was the struggle with the running game. Rushing for just 115 yards against the outmanned Tennessee Tech front, the Tigers definitely missed junior tailback Brad Lester. Mario Fannin led the way with 52 yards on 14 carries while Benjamin Tate added 35 yards on 14 attempts. Borges says he's not pleased with the running game, but understands why there were problems.
"We never really got into a rhythm with the running game because we took our guys out," Borges says. "We changed so many bodies early. I think eventually we would have run the ball fine, but we didn't want to keep the same folks in there the whole time. There were a couple of times they slanted into where we ran the play, but I should have made better calls."