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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2007
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Auburn’s
dream of Field

The Tigers have a new No. 2 QB ready to play

By Ross Dellenger
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

AUBURN — Auburn’s backup quarterback situation has come full circle.

Just hours after an impressive performance in the Tigers’ 35-3 win over Tennessee Tech, junior Blake Field was named the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Brandon Cox, leaping over true freshman Kodi Burns.

“We’ll go with probably Blake Field this week in terms of being our backup,” Tuberville said.

Following Burns’ dismal outing against Tennessee Tech, offensive coordinator Al Borges insisted the 18-year-old would remain the backup and Field would remain the No. 3 quarterback.

That changed Sunday morning.

“Coach Borges and I have had a discussion,” Tuberville said when asked about Borges’ comments in the postgame interview.

Borges praised Field on Sunday after seeing the backup quarterback on videotape. Field completed 6 of 11 passes — with two passes dropped — for 92 yards and threw a touchdown.

“Blake played really well,” Borges said. “He was very composed, made some great throws, and he’s earned the right.”

Field, who backed up Cox during 2005 and 2006, has endured a long road back to his old spot, a place that gives him a leg up on the starting job next season.

After winning the backup job during preseason, Burns emerged as the No. 2 during preparation for the third game of the season, an eventual 19-14 loss to Mississippi State.

Since then, Field has rarely thrown a pass in practice. In fact, during the week of practice leading up to Saturday’s game, he got no work at quarterback.

Burns worked with the second string and reserve Neil Caudle worked with the third team. Field said he did not practice as a quarterback for five straight weeks — following Auburn’s loss to South Florida and win at Arkansas. He called that stretch a low point in his career.

“I was really disappointed and down for a while,” Field said. “Coach Borges told me to keep my head up and keep going. That’s what I’ve always been known for — a great work ethic.”

Field spent time at quarterback before the LSU game.

“They just wanted me to be ready in case something happened to Brandon,” he said.

A week later, he found himself working solely with the special teams. A 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, Field is in charge of blocking the opponent’s snapper on the punt return team. Field was moved into that position during the week of practice leading up to the game against Vanderbilt and has been doing it ever since.

Then came Saturday.

“You’ve got to sit back and be patient and wait for everything to happen,” Field said.

After Burns’ poor outing against Tennessee Tech and Field’s superlative show, it appears his patience has paid off. He has regained his grip on the backup job should Cox take a fall.

“Whenever you’re given that opportunity to do a good job, then do it,” Field said. “I’ve been learning this offense and (working in) this offense the last four years now.”

Burns, known for his running more than passing, failed to complete a throw, misfiring on four attempts during his two series in the game. Borges said Burns will continue to be used as a running threat, coming off the bench to spell Cox.

Field, on the other hand, will be the primary backup, entering the game only if Cox is unable to play. Borges said Field will take all the work with the second string this week, while Burns works with the third string.

“Kodi’s the No. 3 quarterback,” he said. “Blake’s the No. 2 quarterback.”

Auburn Monday playback

Three points Auburn should remember after a 35-3 win over Tennessee Tech.

Starters rested: Most of Auburn’s starters — especially on offense — played just one quarter in the blowout victory. That rest is crucial with games at Georgia and against Alabama upcoming.

Field day: Blake Field is good. He overtook Burns as the backup quarterback to Brandon Cox with his superlative play Saturday. He could be next season’s starter.

No injuries: Auburn escaped Saturday’s game with no significant injuries and got to rest several injured starters, including running back Brad Lester, tackle Ryan Pugh, safety Zac Etheridge and linebacker Craig Stevens.

Ross Dellenger

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