March 29, 2008
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
Auburn quarterbacks beware: Tony Franklin is watching you.
The Tigers' offensive coordinator gave quarterback contenders Kodi Burns and Chris Todd mixed reviews after Saturday's spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium, even noticing when they failed to signal in formations alongside Neil Caudle on the sidelines.
"I thought that they were both good and they were both bad," Franklin said. "The things that I liked was that they moved the ball and they got the ball in the end zone a few times, not as many as I would like. They made mistakes."
The first-team offense's Blue team beat the defense-led White 30-14.
Burns and Todd, who each spent some time with the White offense, will carry over their competition for the starting job into preseason practices.
Both threw touchdown passes to Robert Dunn, and avoided interceptions. Todd completed 18-of-27 passes for 190 yards after his first three attempts fell incomplete. Burns was 14-of-21 for 142 but also ran for 37 yards not counting sacks, which the defense was credited with upon touching the quarterbacks to protect them from hits.
"When I scramble there's no way I'm down on a lot of those, and the coaches know that," said Burns, who threw for a 28-yard score to Dunn and was named offensive MVP. "A lot of times, those would be first downs and even more than that."
None of the key tailbacks played much thanks to an array of injuries or just resting already proven players. Otherwise, it was a glimpse at what the offense will look like with a much faster tempo thanks to a no-huddle offense and 16 different players catching passes.
Franklin was definitely keeping a close eye on Todd and Burns.
"I didn't like their leadership on the sidelines," he said. "They were signaling formations and a couple of times when Neil was doing it, they weren't. And I don't like that. I don't like that they didn't do what they were supposed to do. They weren't being good team guys at the time.
"Neither one of them is ready to go out and win an SEC championship. They've both got a long way to go and a lot of competition left."
Caudle completed 10 of 18 passes for 50 yards with a touchdown. He also threw an interception right to Josh Bynes, who raced 48 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Coach Tommy Tuberville said the effect of the offense's quicker pace was evident on the defense.
"The tempo of this offense makes you tired real quick," Tuberville said. "As the game went along, the offense got stronger and the defense was sucking wind at some point."
The spread offense also had a big impact on the receivers' stats. Dunn caught five passes for 69 yards, Rod Smith had five catches for 55 and tight end Tommy Trott gained 55 yards on four catches.
"That was the best we've caught the football," Tuberville said. "We did have a couple of drops, but I remember the first scrimmage we had this year we dropped like six of the first eight passes thrown."
Todd has been slowed by a tired shoulder much of the spring. Franklin estimates the junior college transfer's arm at "about 60 percent."
The Tigers didn't use anything close to their full arsenal of tailbacks. Ben Tate scored touchdowns of 10 and 8 yards among his five carries. Brad Lester got most of the day off, catching an 8-yard pass on the opening drive. Mario Fannin was out while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Tate spent much of the game joining the fans in quarterback watching.
"I was checking out Kodi and Chris because obviously those two are going to be fighting for the job," he said. "I'm ready for them to pick a guy so we have a leader going into the offseason."