Franklin Looking To Handle QB's Differently

Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin talks about the performance against ULM and gives his thoughts on the quarterbacks.

Auburn, Ala.--There is no question that Auburn's offense didn't have the kind of night coach Tony Franklin was hoping for in the 2008 season opener against ULM. Struggling in the passing game all night long, the Tigers did manage over 300 rushing yards and that was a bright spot said Franklin.

"It's always funny after a game," Franklin said. "When you think you're really good and you watch the film you're never as good as you thought you were. When you're really bad you're never as bad as you thought you were. Our offensive line I thought played really well with the exception of a few plays. They blocked well in the run game. They blocked well in the passing game. Normally when that happens you usually score a lot of points but we didn't.

"I thought the running backs ran the ball well," he added. "We missed a few opportunities for big plays with those guys but overall I thought they played well. We picked the blitz up really good and I was pleased with that."

While there were some positives, the negatives far outweighed them according to Franklin. The biggest negative was at the quarterback position where neither Kodi Burns nor Chris Todd ever got into a rhythm, making the offense stagnant at times. Franklin said that's something that will have to improve immediately beginning with how he handles them.

"The quarterbacks were both just blah," Franklin said. "They were average. I did a poor job of coaching them and it showed. I just have to do a better job this week.

"Probably the biggest thing is that neither one of them got into a rhythm," he added. "That's my fault with the way I alternated them from series to series. We're going to play them both again but I'll probably have a different way of rotating them. If one guy goes good then he may stay in forever. We'll just do it a little bit different to try to get them a little rhythm. I don't think either one of them every got a rhythm until Chris at the end when he got all the snaps."

Another problem in Franklin's mind that came from alternating series was the pressure it put on both players. While he has told them all preseason that they would both play, he said he felt like they put extra pressure on themselves to make plays knowing they would be out the next series.

"I think they got tense and tight," Franklin said. "I don't care who you are, when you come out your first game and you know you're not going to be in the next time. You're probably concerned about the reps and making a mistake and wondering if it's your last one. I didn't do a very good job of letting either one of them get a rhythm."

With a game under his belt playing two quarterbacks, Franklin said he'll have to figure out how to handle them a little differently this coming week against Southern Miss. Not sure how that's going to happen yet, Franklin said he's still learning how to deal with this situation of having two pretty much equal quarterbacks but he knows he's got to get a finger on it sooner rather than later.

"I have never done this before," Franklin said. "I have always said you're stupid if you did it. It's funny how the world works. Be careful what you say because one day it will come back to you. It's a tough deal because they're both really good players. Somewhere along the way one of them will probably have to play more than the other one. This week we'll just have to see how it goes."

The same can be said at the wide receiver position where the Tigers will have to deal with the loss of talented true freshman Philip Pierre-Louis for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Senior James Swinton went down on the first offensive play with a knee injury as well but should be back this week. Along with that veteran Montez Billings missed the game with a hamstring problem and Franklin said without them things were very good against ULM.

"The receivers were just kind of average," Franklin said. "A lot of the routes weren't as crisp and weren't as good as they should have been. We've got to get better at some of that stuff. The effort on their blocking, sometimes it was good and sometimes it wasn't."

Both Tommy Tuberville and Franklin said on Sunday that they'll look at making some changes at the wide receiver position. Among them will be moving both Tim Hawthorne and Darvin Adams outside at times to give them more snaps. Franklin said they'll look at a few other things this week as well to try to get more production out of position.

"Everybody has to come in and step up and get the job done," Franklin said. "We had enough good players left, we just didn't do a very good job. We've just got to do better."

Without Pierre-Louis the Tigers will now look for playmakers to step up in his absence. One of those will likely be sophomore Mario Fannin, but Franklin said Fannin has to show he's a more complete player if his touches hope to improve down the road.

"Mario just has to get better," Franklin said. "He's got to do a better job for us. He's got to practice better. He's got to learn to be a good receiver and run good routes. He's got to learn to play when he doesn't have the ball. It can't be that every time we put him in he gets the ball. He's got to do better without the ball and he's not very good without the ball right now.

"We have to coach him better without the ball. He's got to play better without the ball. He's got to show us that he can be a good football player without the ball in his hands. Everybody knows he's good when he's got it in his hands. We can't put him in just to give him the ball. He's got to do the other stuff to and he hasn't done that."

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