Ensminger: QB Competition Going Well

Auburn coach Steve Ensminger talks about Kodi Burns and the quarterback position as the Tigers prepare for next week's game against WVU.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been a long season already for the Auburn Tigers and particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Struggling to get things going, coach Tommy Tuberville made a change last week by firing coordinator Tony Franklin and replacing him with tight ends coach Steve Ensminger for the remainder of the season.

A former quarterback and quarterbacks coach, Ensminger had to make the adjustment back to coaching the position and also calling plays. Doing that with just two days to prepare for Arkansas, Ensminger says the team did some good things despite a turbulent few days on the Plains.

"It was tough but it's part of the profession," Ensminger says. "Anything can happen. You're 50 years old and you think you've seen everything and something else will pop up. It was hard but it wasn't just hard on me it was hard on the staff and hard on the team. I thought with the exception of a few mistakes the team responded pretty well."

Back coaching quarterbacks, Ensminger will go into the West Virginia game with Kodi Burns as the starter and former starter Chris Todd in a reserve role while he rests a sore shoulder. That has meant a chance for redshirt sophomore Neil Caudle and true freshman Barrett Trotter to get a look in practice this week. Ensminger says so far all of the guys have stepped up when called upon.

"We really didn't do a whole lot this week," Ensminger says. "We gave everybody a rep just like we do every open date. Kodi and Chris are doing the same things but we had the opportunity to let the young ones get some work in. It was not only there but at every position. We've got about half of our gameplan in. We're really out there getting back down to fundamentals and techniques, the things we're supposed to be doing.

"It has been really good," Ensminger says. "It's not an off week but it's a competitive week. We're going to go out there and get better. You're going to compete against each other for reps and when you get your turn make something happen. They've all done it."

The biggest question mark has been at the number two position where Caudle and Trotter are fighting it out to see who gets the job at least temporarily. Although he's in his third season at Auburn, Caudle has seen very limited playing time both in practice and in games due to being a third team guy. Even with that Ensminger says he's shown some things in practice.

"He's doing well," Ensminger says. "He's a very intelligent kid. He knows where to go with the football. I was pleased with practice today and this week."

While Caudle has been getting a look so to has Trotter. While not as seasoned at Auburn, Trotter was a three-year starter in spread offense and has all the physical tools to get the job done. Ensminger says he's shown some things in practice but the question remains is it enough to take off a redshirt and move him to the number two spot.

"He has a strong arm," Ensminger says. "You're talking about a kid who was recruited to come throw the football. You wonder with the little bit we're doing right now just how far along him or Neil, how far along can you bring them?

"I really haven't sat down and thought about it," Ensminger adds. "We've done it every year in the open date, get the freshmen some reps and see where they are at. I have not sat down with our staff or coach (Tommy) Tuberville and talked about it."

The one position that at least for now is determined is with Burns as the starter. Ensminger says he's had a good week of practice and has handled things well now th at he's the man on offense for the Tigers.

"I told him that last week that he was starting," Ensminger says. "I said if we feel like you're struggling we'll do what's best for this offense. Right now it's his. He knows it. He also knows there are some things he's got to improve on to make us better. The ball is in his court I guess."

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