One of the most interesting to watch should take place at Auburn where sophomore Kodi Burns and junior Chris Todd will battle for the starting quarterback position for the Tigers in Tony Franklin's spread offensive attack.
Because of that we sat down with Franklin for a question and answer session about the quarterback position. The following are Franklin's comments on Burns and Todd, the race for the starting job, and what he's hoping to see out of backups Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter this fall.
Chris Todd was bothered by a sore shoulder in the spring, but appears ready to make a run this fall.
ITAT: How much did spring practice give you a chance to evaluate your guys?
Franklin: "It was good for getting some evaluation, especially for Kodi because he improved so much and I saw he had a chance. For Chris it was not as good because of his arm and missing the time that he missed and not ever being at full strength, but at least I got to see him work in the pocket and see the positive things he can do. Even though his arm wasn't good he was still able to have success. I think Neil improved too as the spring went along."
ITAT: You had a chance to work with Kodi prior to the bowl game. Talk about his improvement and how major it was for you to see that.
Franklin: "It was pretty major because I didn't think he could do it until Hugh (Hugh Nall) brought me in the film from his high school. What I saw on the field in preparation for the bowl game he showed no signs of all of being a quarterback that could throw the ball at all. I didn't feel very confident until I saw that film and then I thought he's done it before and he's had success we've just got to get back what he had and figure out what went wrong.
"The good thing was is that he got a lot better and responded to the little details about his footwork that made him better. The question is, can he make it a habit where it's not just something that when I'm chewing him out he does it, but he does it on his own. We'll see that when we get started out here."
ITAT: Chris is a guy you were familiar with. Is his familiarity with the offense a help because he missed so much time in the spring?
Franklin: "I think that helped him in the beginning, but you can be familiar and still not be good. He's talented, he's a competitor, and he's a good leader and he's big and strong and has a good arm when his arm is healthy. Hopefully, his arm is healthy. If it is I expect him to be a really good player."
Neil Caudle is a talented quarterback who comes off his first healthy season in four years.
ITAT: With Neil, you've talked in this offense about trying to get guys ready. Is he a guy you think has a chance to move into that group or is he a guy who is still trying to find his way?
Franklin: "He's not going to move into the top two. You don't have time to rep three guys, you can't do it because it's impossible for any of them to get good. In the summer and spring sometimes you can do that, but basically Neil and Barrett will be competing against each other to see who will be the three."
ITAT: Talk about Barrett. Do you look for him to be a playmaker or someone who has to work his way into the offense?
Franklin: "He has the advantage too because he's been in the offense for three years and he knows it. He knows the routine of practice and how we practice. The things that are expected he already knows and understands that.
"His biggest thing will be how he adjusts to the speed and to the rush. Can he slide into throwing lanes because he's not going to outrun anybody? In high school he outran people and made plays. He's not going to outrun people here. He has to learn to adjust and if he's physically as tough as I think he is then he'll be pretty good. He's got a good live arm."
Barrett Trotter is an athletic quarterback with a good arm who has gotten considerably stronger over the summer.
ITAT: What would be the ideal scenario for you? Would it be for one guy to take the job over or for Kodi and Chris to push each other back and forth?
Franklin: "I think the easiest thing for me is if one guy is a lot better. That's easier for me when deciding what to do and calling plays and making game plans and dividing up reps. It's not necessarily the best thing because you need two good quarterbacks to make it through the year.
"People have proven you can win a national championship playing two. Florida did it and other people have done it and been successful. I think you just look at each one of their strengths and what they have. If one of them is much stronger in one area than another then you are hurting your team by not playing both of them. I feel comfortable that if we have to do that then we can be successful at it."
ITAT: Is there going to be a time you name a definite starter or will that just kind of work itself out?
Franklin: "I'm sure there probably will be. I think Coach (Tommy) Tuberville wants to have a starter, somebody that will be the leader. I think you can have two leaders. I think our team has accepted that already.
"People will do which ever way their leaders point them. I think you've got two good quarterbacks that both can win. They both can play. Even though one of them may pull away from the other and be named the starter I don't see a scenario where they both don't play."