Thursday, August 02, 2007

Four more years! Four more years!

Man, I'm not gonna blame any Auburn fans for already clearing away some room in the basement for their Kodi Burns shrine, or conjuring images of a series each half for him before blowing out the candles on their birthday cakes. Burns is almost inarguably the most highly-regarded quarterback recruit Auburn's had since a certain late-90s Missippi product who, you may recall, has put together a decent little career for himself. It's been one day of practice, and Tubby's already gushing. And, of course, the last SEC team to commit to the Senior Pocket QB fastball/Freshman Running QB change-up strategy didn't fare too badly. It just all seems so right for Cox to scrunch up a bit and make just a bit of room for him in the offense.

So I understand that the JCCW is in the minority of Auburn fans when I say I want Burns to redshirt. But redshirt I most certainly want him to do.

Firstly, I think his contributions wouldn't quite live up to the Tebow-inspired, cotton candy-and-Laffy Taffy dreams Auburn fans are currently enjoying. Tebow had the luxury of a) being well-nigh indestructible b) playing in an offense tailor-made for someone of his talents. Burns has neither of those advantages. He's not small, but he's not (6'2", 194) built to take a snap from the gun and plow between the guard and right tackle on 4th-and-1, either. And more importantly, the Borges offense isn't exactly built around designed QB runs. (How often did Campbell run his senior year?) It would be a much clunkier adjustment for Auburn to switch to a change-of-pace QB than it was for Meyer's bunch. You could theoretically skip those adjustments and plug Burns in assuming he's "going to make plays with his legs" ... but, um, I for one would rather have the quarterback said plays are designed for just make those plays with his arm.

Second, Burns hasn't been promised PT and sounds like he'd take his redshirt in stride. There doesn't appear to be any NOW NOW NOW hurry on that end, at least.

Third, if Cox is healthy, we've got a damn good QB already. Better than pre-national-championship-game Leak, anyway, unless you've forgotten that Cox outplayed him in Jordan-Hare last year and that offense wasn't built for him. Florida, in other words, needed a Tebow more than Auburn needs a Burns.

Fourth, while things get substantially murkier if Cox goes down, unless it's both early in the season and permanent, Caudle, Field, and Ensminger should get their shot. Past multi-year pocket-passer AU backups include guys like Leard and, well, Cox, guys who have proven that the Tigers can have success with them under center. Would Burns be a better full-time option? It's quite, quite possible he would be. But it's not worth burning his redshirt if the upgrade is only a slight one and the team can grind out wins without him.

Because, lastly, consider again the two quarterbacks who took Auburn to their last two undefeated seasons. Both of them were seniors. Both of them were four-year starters. And neither came to Auburn with Burns's pedigree. A lot of things had to go right for those two teams, but that list started with White and Campbell and I'd love to start another one with a fourth-year-starting Burns.

Burns might bolt after his junior season, of course. But unless he's the second coming of a certain soon-to-be-ex-Falcon QB, the pros may not want him, and given Auburn's track record with quarterbacks of this caliber, isn't this worth that minor gamble?

If Burns is going to live up to the hype--and "No. 5 in the country" hype isn't often wrong these days--I'd much rather get four full seasons of him living up to it than three full seasons and one quasi-half-year that may not add a thing to Auburn's bottom line anyway.


Anonymous said...

Hey J, Just a minor correction for you. Campbell did come to Auburn with Burns' pedigree. Campbell was a five start recruit and the 5th overall rated QB. Above him... Berlin, Mock, Smoker, and Clausen.

Anonymous said...

Oh, source:

Jerry Hinnen said...

Hmmm... I'm going to hide behind the "Recruiting's such a bigger deal now, more Auburn fans know Burns's name at this stage than they knew Campbell's, there was more celebration over his signing, etc." defense. "Heralded" is a mighty flexible word, you know.

But to be honest I'd forgotten, if I ever knew, that Campbell was quite THAT highly prized. All the more reason to expect big things from Burns.