Tuberville: Todd will start at quarterback

Published 9:37 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

AUBURN – The Auburn Tigers are switching starting quarterbacks, but coach Tommy Tuberville has hardly declared a winner in the Kodi Burns vs. Chris Todd duel.

Todd will get the nod for the ninth-ranked Tigers Saturday against Southern Miss, but Tuberville said Tuesday that was part of the plan even before a leg injury put Burns’ status in question. They’re just taking turns.

Neither did much to resolve the battle in the opener against Louisiana-Monroe, when Burns started and they swapped series most of the game.

Burns had to get stitches to repair a cut on his left leg and missed a day of practice. On Tuesday, the mobile quarterback was mostly confined to the pocket handing off and throwing. If he isn’t fully recovered, Tuberville said, he won’t play.

“We’re not going to put him in harm’s way,” Tuberville said. “I don’t want him a sitting duck back there and them knowing he can’t run around.”

Especially since Burns threw for just 15 yards against ULM while running for 69.

If Burns can’t go, that might open the door for Todd to put a solid claim on the job before the Tigers enter Southeastern Conference play. The opener left Auburn still searching for a long-term solution.

“In the future we’re going to find a quarterback and somebody that’s going to get the job done and give them a long leash,” Tuberville said. “Of course, we’ll have somebody else standing over there that can go in and play some plays or whatever. We haven’t come up with that guy yet.”

Todd didn’t let slip to reporters that he would start against Southern Miss before Tuberville made his announcement. He said he didn’t know how offensive coordinator Tony Franklin would rotate the two quarterbacks, but figures they’ll be given a better chance to find a rhythm.

Todd said he expects Burns to be ready to go.

In the meantime, running backs Ben Tate and Brad Lester give a pretty good fallback plan.

“The running game looked really good on Saturday and I think we’ll keep going with that,” Todd said. “The thing is, offensively we throw the ball really well, I think. We just really need to get out there and get in a rhythm and do what we do every day in practice.”

Franklin’s newly installed spread offense didn’t exactly have the crowd-pleasing success fans were hoping for. It did produce two touchdowns and two field goals — the defense and special teams also scored TDs — along with 321 yards rushing.

“It’s like a coming out party,” Tuberville said. “We’ve got a packed house out there looking at an offense that everybody was expecting to throw for 500 and run for 75. It didn’t work.”

The Tigers are hoping to get receiver James Swinton back from a knee injury, but Tuberville said he has to be able to practice by Wednesday to play. They are also hoping to get back receiver Montez Billings, who missed the opener with a hamstring injury.

Running back and return man Tristan Davis (ankle) has practiced full-speed the past two days and will play, Tuberville said. The return of Davis is good news for the Tigers, who lost freshman receiver/kick returner man Philip Pierre-Louis to a season-ending knee injury on the opening kickoff.

“We desperately need him, not just to play on offense, but also special teams,” Tuberville said.