April 18, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Neil Caudle knows the big plays and points Auburn's offense put up in Saturday's spring game came with a caveat.
Caudle and fellow quarterback Kodi Burns were facing a defense that was a mix-and-match group with a number of key players out or limited with injuries.
The Tigers offense produced 70-yard runs by newcomer Onterio McCalebb and receiver Terrell Zachery on an end-around. Ben Tate only had four carries, but they produced 72 yards and touchdowns of 46 and 9 yards on his first two series. Darvin Adams had a 45-yard catch and Mario Fannin a 41-yarder.
To Caudle, it was a solid debut for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's no-huddle, shotgun attack.
"I know the defense is banged up and they didn't have all of their guys," said Caudle, who passed for 161 yards and two touchdowns. "But it's a big confidence-builder for us to go out there and hang up that many points on them."
How many points? The offense, which scored six touchdowns, won 57-31 under the scoring system of new coach Gene Chizik that rewarded big plays ? offensively and defensively and extended drives along with TDs. The starting offense went against the second-team defense for much of the game.
An announced crowd of 45,381 showed up for Chizik's public debut at Jordan-Hare Stadium and got a small taste of Malzahn's much-anticipated offense, which ran 55 plays in the 90-minute scrimmage. What they didn't witness was the conclusion of the quarterback battle or anything beyond the base offense and defense.
Chizik and Malzahn both said Caudle and Burns will continue to jockey for the starting spot in fall camp.
"We're looking for guys to be able to move the football team, and not turn the ball over and just be great managers of our offense," Chizik said. "For the most part, that happened today.
"We've got a long way to go, so there's not going to be any decisions made on who's the guy and who's not the guy. We know that this thing's probably going to play out a good bit. It was good to see both of them have a little bit of success today."