March 13, 2008

Backup QB's shine in second scrimmage

No tailbacks? No problem for Auburn's offense in Thursday's spring football half-scrimmage.

Running backs Ben Tate, Tristan Davis and Mario Fannin are all out with injuries. Senior Brad Lester sat out Thursday's session for undisclosed reasons.

That left AU with a handful of walk-ons in the backfield. And that meant a showcase for the passing game.

In their first spring scrimmage, the Tigers tried to ignore the tailback shortage. Lester, Fannin and three walk-on backs combined for 27 carries in that scrimmage. But the results - the walk-ons had 51 total yards - weren't what offensive coordinator Tony Franklin wanted to see.

So Thursday's half-scrimmage featured a very different plan.

"I hated to come out and run, knowing that every time we ran it, we'd be second-and-9," said Franklin. "Even though I wanted the O-line to get some blocking work, the hard part is when they block everybody and you get 2 yards."

So in Thursday's session, Franklin turned his quarterbacks loose. Quarterbacks Chris Todd, Neil Caudle and Kodi Burns combined for 58 passes and 25 carries.

It wasn't totally unbalanced - 13 of the 96 snaps were handoffs. But the focus of the scrimmage was definitely on the passing game.

"It was more of a throwing scrimmage," said head coach Tommy Tuberville. "We wanted to put the quarterbacks under fire."

Todd, who missed two weeks with a shoulder injury, made an impression in his first 11-on-11 appearance in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The junior-college transfer was 17-for-25 passing for 168 yards and three touchdowns, mostly with the second-team offense.

"It feels great to get back out there," said Todd. "It's been hard, obviously, not being able to do anything.

"I've got a few things I can work on, now that I'm getting back in the swing of things and getting comfortable out there."

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