Who'll run the show?

Football teams typically build their offense around the strengths of the quarterback, making him the centerpiece of the attack.

The problem comes when you don't know who the centerpiece will be ... and the Auburn Tigers apparently have no idea.

Senior Chris Todd (6-4, 210) started the first half of 2008, completed 55 percent of his passes, but was benched the last five games, then missed spring practice with shoulder problems.

Junior Kodi Burns (6-2, 208) completed 52.5 percent and ran for 411 yards as a part-time starter last fall but posted an awful ratio of touchdowns (2) to interceptions (7) last fall.

Junior Neil Caudle (6-3, 200) threw just five passes last season, completing four, but reportedly looked pretty good in spring practice.

Incoming freshman Tyrik Rollison (6-0, 194) further muddles the picture, since he might offer the best combination of running/passing skills among the Tiger QB candidates.

"Our quarterback situation is going to be very unique," head coach Gene Chizik conceded at the recent SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. "There's a unique dynamic there. There's some older guys with experience. Some of them went through the spring. One of them didn't. Then all of a sudden, you have some young guys coming in on campus. When you haven't locked down on a position and said, 'This is my starter,' that means it's up for grabs for everybody that walks through the doors.

"We would like to get that situation resolved. How long that will take, we don't know. Obviously, the guys that have more experience have probably a little bit of a leg up. But that doesn't always tell the final tale.

"It's an interesting dynamic. It's going to take us a little bit of time to figure it out."

No matter who winds up being Auburn's QB in 2009, he should do better than last season, when the Tigers finished 99th nationally in passing yards and 106th in passing efficiency.

"Last year was a crazy year," tight end Tommy Trott said. "As an offense, we never really found our identity. Hopefully with Coach Malzahn, we can establish an identity and figure out what we want to do as an offense."

The obvious question: How can the Tigers establish the identity of their offense when they haven't even established the identity of their quarterback?

"I'm sure the coaches will make a decision when they see them in the fall," Trott said. "I can tell you they're all looking good this summer. There's a whole lot of competition out there, and hopefully, it will help us in the fall."

Chizik concedes that the Tigers may not have the perfect fit at quarterback on campus at this time, noting that "what really defines a great coach" is the ability to "do what you can do, stay within the realm of what you're comfortable with as a coach, yet still adapt (while) knowing that maybe, talent-wise, you're not quite there yet."

In other words, the Tigers' challenge is to tweak their system to fit their personnel. Or, as Chizik put it:

"We got to adapt and adjust, and we'll do that. But we'll certainly not try to fit a round peg in a square hole. We're not going to do that."


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