Tuberville: Todd, Burns still 1-2 at QB

Published 11:01 pm Sunday, September 28, 2008

AUBURN (AP) _ Kodi Burns got the fans worked up, but still isn’t exactly racking up the passing yards. Chris Todd had No. 13 Auburn’s only touchdown pass, but also threw a costly interception.

The Tigers’ quarterback derby has hardly reached any kind of firm resolution, but Todd remains the starter and Burns is back in the mix after a two-game hiatus.

That’s where the seemingly perpetually fluid situation stands after Auburn’s 14-12 win over Tennessee on Saturday, a game Todd started and Burns finished.

“Chris is still the starter, and Kodi will play,” offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said Sunday evening. “When, how, whatever, I don’t know, but it will work itself out some way or another.”

After five games, the Tigers (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) are still waiting for that to happen. Their last two wins have come by a total of three points and produced one offensive touchdown.

And fans are still restless about the quarterback situation. Some booed Todd during the Tennessee game and chants of “Kodi” cascaded from the stands.

Burns did put Auburn in field goal position on his first drive late in the second quarter, and finished the game with a throw that converted a third-down situation and allowed the Tigers to run the clock out.

“He came in and gave us an opportunity to get the fans all excited,” coach Tommy Tuberville said. “He did make some athletic plays.

“The more he plays the better he’s going to get. We need to get him in there. But you’ve got to have a starting quarterback and a backup. I’m proud of him. That third-and-5 play was huge. He looked like he’d been out there forever and made that play. That’s just a step closer for him growing up.”

Then again, Burns’ season numbers don’t exactly cement his claim on the starting job: 8-for-18, 51 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. He has also run for 84 yards.

Todd had gotten off to a strong start, completing 9-of-12 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown against the Volunteers. After Burns’ entry, he was 3-of-11 for 30 yards and threw a costly interception that led to a Tennessee touchdown.

“The first 28 snaps before Chris came out of the game, he had 27 perfect plays,” Franklin said. “He had 27 snaps that he was perfect, where he did every single thing that I asked him to do. The only thing he didn’t was a fumbled snap from center, which he struggles with right now.

“After that, he didn’t handle it very well. He came back in the second half and didn’t play very good.”

Todd said if he lets the situation affect his play when Burns rotates in, it’s his fault.

“You can look at that different ways, but whatever issues are going through your head or whatever when you’re on the sideline, I’ve got to do a better job of controlling that,” Todd said. “If that’s the case, that’s on me. The fact of the matter is when you’re in the game, you’ve got to make plays.”

Something else that would be tough to deal with: The boos. Franklin said he spoke to Todd about handling that situation Sunday.

“It’s hard on a young man, coming in to boos and people screaming the other guy’s name,” Franklin said. “That’s hard on any human being. I talked with him about it and tried to coach him up. It’s never personal. Those people don’t know you. They don’t know who you are, they don’t hate you. They hate me but they don’t hate you.

“He’s a 21-year-old kid and it’s tough. He didn’t handle it as well as he could have.”

Both quarterbacks had stronger highlights than in recent games. Todd split two defenders for a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Dunn for the only offensive points. Burns showed off both mobility and presence of mind when he was spun by a defender in the pocket, went to the left and got away from another tackler before rolling right.

When it looked like he would have to throw the ball away, he found Dunn for an 11-yard gain.

“There’s no doubt that you had Kodi come in and give us a spark,” Franklin said. “He made plays that Chris can’t make because of his ability to run around.”

That and his final pass, however, accounted for half of his four completions.

Auburn tried trickery to get the offense going, with mixed results. Receiver Mario Fannin took a direct snap three times on one series, netting 4 yards on runs. Receiver Robert Dunn was to attempt a pass on an end around and lost 7 yards.

“It might be the dumbest call I’ve made in 10 years,” Franklin said.