Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Works, two roads diverging in an orange-and-blue wood-style

Introducing your new Auburn quarterback, Khrisodi Burn-Stodd. The arrival of another week of practice without a leader declared in Auburn's quarterback race seems to have the media circling the situation with even greater, uh, circular force. This hasn't been a purely negative development, mind you--getting to hear an apparent straight shooter like Tony Franklin say Burns vs. Todd is "the best problem I think I've had in my life" is more than a little encouraging for any Auburn fans fretting we might not have any viable quarterbacks at all, much less two.

Then again: I'm not sure Franklin's accurate when he calls the situation "nothing but positive," not when Burns has what seems like a legitimate point when he tells Chris Low it's hard to lead as half a quarterback. Hell, Tubby admitted as much himself.

This is one of a couple of things that make me fidgety with the building momentum towards a regular-season QB rotation, no matter how many articles we read about how great Todds and Burns get along. Not only does it strike me as awfully hard for a team to put its complete faith in a quarterback when there's always going to be the tiny voices inside each player that say "I sure do like Chris/Kodi, but I have to say I'm glad/disappointed Kodi/Chris is coming in," but it's difficult to remember any SEC team that succeeded with an out-and-out quarterback 1A and quarterback 1B approach. Everyone loves pointing to Greene/Shockley or Leak/Tebow or, if you prefer, Cox/Burns. But in every one of those situations there was a clearly-defined starter with the second QB brought in as a (run-first) change-of-pace. Tossing both guys into the pool and waiting to see who floats to the top, as Franklin seems to be suggesting, seems to yours truly a good way to risk the offense thrashing around at the bottom for another year, waiting for the defense to once again throw them a life preserver.

That's not to say, of course, I'm going to abandon hope if Burns takes the first snap against ULM and Todd comes in a series later; if Tubby and Franklin feel that's the best way to go about it, so be it. And reading between the lines, I think Tubby feels more-or-less the same way--otherwise, why not wait even longer to name a starter? But the best-case scenario at the JCCW will remain one guy or the other taking the next several days to look the job over, decide it's his, sign all the appropriate paperwork, and drive the sucker home.

Good news. There's been plenty for Auburn fans to smile about over the last several days, starting with the simple fact that the offense had the upper hand in Saturday's scrimmage. I know that a) with hard facts about the scrimmage curiously made more difficult to come by than Chinese military budget information, their hand may not really have been so much "upper" as "sorta higher, maybe"; b) that any kind of "advantage" the offense had disappeared by the next practice; c) the scrimmage bore as much resemblance to an actual Auburn football game as I bear a resemblance to a shirtless D'Angelo.

But even with all of that taken into consideration: we have a new offense with new QB's and a defense that virtually all logic dictates will rank amongst the nation's best. If the Auburn offense enters the season even within striking distance of the Auburn defense, this is a Good Sign.

Also: Spencer Pybus is going to be a hell of a story if he winds up contributing; Tristan Davis is apparently ready to make Auburn's kickoff return a 2006-style weapon again; and more importantly, he, Merrill Johnson, Courtney Harden, and James Swinton got their degrees.

Franklin sez you suck. You've probably read this Franklin-featuring Ivan Maisel piece on the alleged decline of the huddle already, and Lord knows we've gotten enough Franklin profiles and quotes this offseason to last us through the apocalypse and beyond.

But it's worth highlighting again anyway, just for this little gem:
If you think about it, how many times do you have an extremely complicated NFL offense that has six shifts and motions before the snap, with these geniuses, and they run it and they lose two yards. I could have done the same thing in a lot less time. I've always thought I'm as smart as them. I'll just lose it faster.
I'm not sure I totally buy Franklin's logic here--wouldn't it be better to uh, just slow down long enough to audible into something else?--but as an Auburn fan you have to enjoy having a coach who's willing to derisively call out NFL OC's making five times his salary as "these geniuses." Mostly, I would say, because it seems to be of a part with calling a quarterback draw for Brandon Cox on third-and-five in the fourth quarter trailing by a TD.

Also from the world of Franklin stuff you've already seen is this Fanpost at Track'Em, which is well-done but neglects to mention that even if the yards-per-play drop a touch, more consistency and more first downs and thus more plays (a la the Clemson game) is a huge boon to the defense as well.

This is your legacy, Warriors. Hope you're happy. Senator Blutarsky proves the point I made last January about Hawaii: all the work done by Boise the year before to legitimize mid-majors' right to crash the BCS party has been undone. It's not that I mind the skepticism regarding Tulsa's legitimacy for a BCS berth, but they shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, either--sure, the defense sucked last year, but if it improves to the point where they're blowing teams out 55-20 on a weekly basis, I'm not sure that or their schedule should matter. It's simply about how good they are, and anyone who paid close enough attention last year would have realized that a Hawaii team that needed overtime to beat Louisiana Tech just plain wasn't. (Good, I mean.) A better schedule would be nice, but if even the likes of the Golden Hurricane romp all over it, the JCCW's official position is that they'll deserve their shot. Too bad that thanks to Hawaii, it seems a whole lot less likely they'd get it.

And lastly ... I didn't get all the details right with my recollection of Skip Caray's psychic-flash moment--the movie promo leaked right into his call of the play even more awesomely than I remembered--but that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch this wonderful tribute to Skip from Ernie Johnson and TNT. (HT: AA.) Enjoy.

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