Burns the Frontrunner in Auburn's QB Battle

Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin discusses the Auburn offense with the Tigers into week two of spring drills.

Auburn, Ala.--After having a chance to study video of Auburn's first major football scrimmage of the spring, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin spent a good part of Sunday's practice working on correcting mistakes and polishing the attack.

Franklin, who doubles as Auburn's quarterback coach, notes that no decision has been made on who will be No. 1 calling the signals for the 2008 season, but he also notes that sophomore Kodi Burns, who worked with the first offense in the scrimmage, is leading the battle for playing time with the Tigers in the second week of spring drills.

"Like always, the good thing is it is never as bad as it seems and it is never as good as it seems," Franklin said when asked about the scrimmage results.

"There was a lot of good stuff," he noted. "There was a lot of bad stuff, but we were much better than any time than we were before the bowl game, which we should be now. We are more deeper into it, the details are getting better and there are some pleasant surprises like with Zachery (receiver Terrell Zachery).

"Trott (Tight end Tommy Trott) has a chance to be a really good player," Franklin says of the junior. "He is consistent. If the other guys will get as consistent as him at that position, that position could really be good."

Commenting on Zachery, who did not play last season as a redshirt freshman due to academic issues that landed the receiver in Coach Tommy Tuberville's "doghouse," Franklin notes there were several things that stood out about the receiver's performance in the scrimmage. "Making plays, catching the ball in traffic, getting hit and showing toughness, making the extra yards after he caught the football," the coach says.

"He just looked dynamic when he had the ball and he made a great play on a corner route where the ball was thrown up. He knew he was going to get in a collision pretty good, but he came down for the ball. I would have not had told you he was very much in the plans so seeing him make plays in the stadium, which I love...there are a lot of guys that sometimes when you get in the stadium and the lights come on, the crowds are there and music is playing, they are a lot different people. He looked pretty dynamic Saturday. Hopefully, he will continue."

With injuries to the running backs, Franklin says the Tigers didn't run the ball as much as he would like in the scrimmage, which gave the quarterbacks plenty of chances to put the football in the air.

Commenting on what he saw on video from the passing game, Franklin says, "The quarterbacks were about like I saw Saturday--a lot of fundamentals that aren't good yet, but a lot better than they were before we started.

"I threw almost every play at the end of the scrimmage because Brad (tailback Brad Lester) was basically it and we had some young guys who were a little bit limited."

Commenting on Burns, Franklin says, "He had a couple of bad throws, a few things he is still struggling with, but we have got some remedies and he is continually getting better so I was pretty pleased with his performance."

Newcomer DeRon Furr led the scrimmage in rushing yards with 64 as he was "live" for the defense to tackle in the scrimmage. The defense took advantage of the opportunity to get physical with the QB.

Commenting on what the early high school graduate showed him, Franklin says, "Toughness, tenacity, competitive, athletic, raw--a long, long, long way to go, but what I wanted to see, if at this level against great talent could he be dynamic and he was. And, I am not going to let him get beat up again like that." Furr, who got hit on the arm in the scrimmage on a running play, was held out of the passing drills on Sunday.

Commenting on redshirt sophomore Neil Candle, the coach says, "There were some things that Neil did that were good. For example, when we ran the zone he carried out his fakes better than Kodi did. He got past the line of scrimmage and he made some nice throws. He made a real nice play on a certain route that he gave a signal to a guy that we had barely mentioned one time and in the game he saw a coverage, gave a signal to it and threw a touchdown. I was excited about that. Those guys are competing well right now."

The other quarterback in the spring competition, Chris Todd, practiced on Sunday, but didn't throw while resting a shoulder that is bothering him. Todd is expected to get the shoulder looked at by specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

"Right now, Kodi has an edge because he is dynamic with the ball because he can do so many more things Neil can't do, but Neil is competing and he is making some plays," Franklin says.

"Just like I told Neil going into the bowl game, and I really believe it, if Brandon (QB Brandon Cox) had gone down in the bowl game Neil would have gone in and played just like Brandon and I have confidence in Neil to do that. It just depends on how you want the personality of your team to be."

The biggest black mark on Caudle's scrimmage performance was that he threw too many dangerous passes that were intercepted or came close to being picked. "He has definitely got to quit throwing it to the other team," Franklin says. "He has done that a lot, just like today when he did it a few times, and he has got to eventually figure out how to not do that. If he doesn't do that, he is not going to play."

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