News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Auburn says Burns, Cox will split time
Tuberville insists team
doesn't have two-QB system

By Ross Dellenger 340-2460

AUBURN — Tommy Tuberville discarded the idea Tuesday of using a two-quarterback system.

But he also said true freshman Kodi Burns and senior Brandon Cox will both play in Auburn's game against New Mexico State on Saturday.


Two quarterbacks playing, but not in a two-quarterback system.


"We're not going to have a two-quarterback system where we're going to alternate every other play and all that," Tuberville said. "We're just going to look for the right one that's playing and fits best with what we're doing and go with it."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Sunday that he disliked a two-quarterback system, so he must be pleased with Tuberville's decision. But then again: If two quarterbacks play, how is it not already a two-quarterback system?

The answer may come Saturday, but for now the confusing affair remains just that — confusing.

Tuberville again declined to reveal his starter Tuesday, saying "it really doesn't make any difference."

Cox started against Mississippi State, but after tossing his second interception — his sixth in five quarters — Burns trotted onto the field, making his college debut and announcing to all future opponents that Auburn now has two quarterbacks who could play.

"There's no hiding that we have Kodi Burns, along with Brandon Cox," Tuberville said. "They'll have to make two different game plans each week. Every team will have to do that to (defend) both quarterbacks."

Each quarterback brings an entirely different style to a stagnant Auburn offense. Burns is the obvious runner but still has a powerful arm and has much to learn about the ins and outs of the West Coast offense.

The embattled Cox knows the offense by heart. And his accurate arm still returns on occasion — see Auburn's final drive against Mississippi State when Cox led the Tigers down to the Bulldogs' 9.

"I'll tell you this: We have not given up on Brandon Cox," Tuberville pronounced vehemently Tuesday. "He just needs some help around him. Kodi doesn't need quite as much help because of his athletic ability out of the pocket."

That is why Burns, most likely, will get most of the snaps this weekend and throughout the rest of the season.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Arkansas native brings a new attitude to Auburn's typical offense, which entailed plenty of handoffs to tailbacks, with the occasional short pass.

Borges has added an option package for Burns that utilizes his speed, which includes a time of 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

From a shotgun stand, Burns either finds a seam — almost like a punt returner —or executes a speed option to the left or right, pitching or keeping the ball.

"He has some electricity about him," Borges said. "If you get him out in the open field, he can make some things happen."

Borges compared Burns to Cade McNown, whom he coached at UCLA in the late 1990s. McNown, who may be remembered best for a disappointing pro career, finished third in the 1998
Heisman Trophy balloting and months later was the 12th pick in the NFL Draft.

"Very similar playmaker type," Borges said. "You just gear what you do offensively based on what they do best."

In Burns' case, that involves lots of running. Borges' option-shotgun package enunciated Burns' speed Saturday, and he will continue to do that. Borges said Burns can execute only about 30 to 40 percent of Auburn's regular offense, but the freshman is eventually "going to learn our offense," he said.

"Right now, we're just exploring his athletic ability," Borges said. "To do so, we have to use some nuances within our offense that we don't use with Brandon."

Borges ran the option during his high-school coaching days. He once called himself an "option coach."

Auburn ran some option plays with Jason Campbell and Carnell Williams in 2004 — Borges' first season — but the Tigers have never utilized a full-option attack since the early 1980s, when running back Bo Jackson and quarterback Randy Campbell executed it so well.

Burns is fine with running the option, and he is certainly content with sharing time with Cox.

"We know it's a harsh game, and (that) kind of a business," Burns said. "The coaches are going to put who out there on the field who needs to be out there."

Cox, who sounded not so satisfied with the deal, said he's never been a part of a two-quarterback system — or whatever this is.

At Auburn and in high school, he has been the only guy.

"We have to find something to get the offense going," Cox said. "Whatever works."

New Mexico St. at Auburn

6 p.m.

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