QB Competition Continues at Practice

A report on Wednesday's Auburn football practice features injury updates, notes and quotes.

Auburn, Ala.--If either Neil Caudle or Barrett Trotter has taken the lead in the competition for the backup quarterback spot, Tommy Tuberville is not spilling the beans.

Wednesday night the Auburn head coach said that Caudle, the redshirt sophomore, and Trotter, the true freshman, each had solid performances throwing the football as did starter Kodi Burns.

"They are all throwing the ball well," he said. "It's kind of hard to tell. What we are doing is we get in (from practice) and chart each one of them's progression, what they have done. Did they make the right decision on the throw...and was it completed?"

Tuberville noted that after Thursday's practice he will meet with interim offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Steve Ensminger and other assistants to decide on who will back up Burns. Chris Todd, who has started five games this year but struggled, didn't take the reps in practice as Burns, Caudle and Trotter alternated every two snaps, the coach noted.

Part of the tests for the quarterbacks was to see how they handled a variety of defensive looks including blitzes. Tuberville said, "He (Trotter) did good. Neil did good. They all did good. Sometimes they make fundamental mistakes, but again it was the first day of really putting any pressure on them. We will have to give them another day to see who responds, who bounces back and learns from the film because about six o'clock in the morning they will be watching this film trying to learn from it."

The Tigers will practice again on Thursday and then take Friday and Saturday off while the coaches recruit. On Sunday they will return to practice to continue preparations for West Virginia after spending about a half hour drilling against WVU formations on Wednesday.

Auburn's trip to Morgantown will include the challenge of stopping quarterback Pat White, who has been rewriting the Mountaineers' records as both a passer and runner.

White missed last week's game vs. Syracuse, but is expected to be ready to play his home-state team. He was a high school standout at Daphne, across the bay from Mobile.

"They have had some injuries," Tuberville said of White and the Mountaineers, noting West Virginia didn't have a good offensive performance last week. "Of course, even when you have a small coaching change, someone calling plays, you are going to have a difference in an attack. They have got a good football team. He didn't play last week. I think he has been bruised up, had a concussion.

"They do have a fast running back," Tuberville said of sophomore Noel Devine. "They are just looking for consistency, like everybody. When you go into games and they know Pat White is the guy, a Heisman Trophy candidate, everybody goes into the game knowing they have to play their best game against him, and that is the problem you have when you have a target on your back.

"They have won some games," Tuberville added. "They have played consistent in some. Some they would love to have back, as we would."

Commenting on White, Tuberville noted the Tigers didn't seriously recruit him because the Daphne star didn't fit at as QB in AU's West Coast Offense the Tigers were running and that White was only interested in playing quarterback.

The Auburn coach noted there is no doubt that White is a great player. "He is a tremendous talent, he has got a lot of speed, he throws the ball well," Tuberville said. "He can do a lot of different things. With the tailback they have, it even gives them another big weapon."

In other news:

*Tailback Ben Tate, who is trying to recover from a hamstring problem, was held out of practice.

*Brad Lester, another senior tailback who has had injury problems, looked good in Wednesday's practice, Tuberville said. "I think he will have an excellent second half of the season," Tuberville predicted. "With men out, he has to take a lot of reps. Eric (Smith) got a lot of reps. Tristan (Davis) got a lot of reps." Lester suffered a knee sprain in game four vs. LSU.

Brad Lester

*Senior receiver Robert Dunn is expected to resume his punt return duties for the West Virginia game after missing the Vandy contest with an ankle injury and seeing limited duty last week. "He still has some soreness on his cuts, but by this time next week he will be 100 percent. He was probably 80 to 85 percent last week during the game.

*Cornerback Jerraud Powers ran full speed, but did not practice. That could happen on Sunday. He has been out since the second quarter of the Vandy game.

*Defensive end Antonio Coleman was held out of practice with a pulled muscle in his leg.

*Wednesday's practice lasted 2 1/2 hours and focused on fundamentals. "There was a lot of contact," Tuberville said. "We got after it from the beginning to the end. Players responded and looked good. We challenged them in a lot of different things. We went against each other a lot most of the day."

*The kickers and punters won't practice until Sunday to rest their legs. AU used its ball machine on kick return and coverage drills.

*The Tigers will practice again on Thursday morning before taking Friday and Saturday off with no game this weekend. AU's coaches will hit the recruiting trail on Thursday.

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