Thom Gossom’s “As I See It” — Tennessee edition

Remember Jason Campbell? Yes! Did you see him this past Sunday handle the Dallas Cowboys, arguably the best team in the NFL? According to the television announcers, Jason, is rapidly becoming one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks. Why? Coaches have gotten him to adjust his throwing motion. Also according to his coaches, Jason is incredibly bright and is a team player. There’s more. According to an analysis by the NFL announcer on the Washington-Dallas game, “When the quarterback has the confidence of the play caller, it’s amazing how well he can perform.”

Flashback a few years to Campbell as an Auburn sophomore and junior quarterback trying to learn the game. The news reports then, were that Campbell was an erratic passer and couldn’t learn the system. Every mistake he made was magnified. Before long he was battling his competition some guy named Daniel Cobb, and his own self-doubts. It didn’t matter that he had a different offensive coordinator each year. The doubts were created by continual punishment and demotions for every mistake and by not giving him the opportunity to work through his mistakes.

Now, flash forward to Kodi Burns, Chris Todd and the Auburn offense of today. Auburn has scored three offensive touchdowns in the last three games. Two of those games, Kodi Burns didn’t even play. One, LSU, was a close loss where perhaps Burns could have made a difference. The offensive woes (one offensive touchdown) continued against Tennessee this past weekend. Because they get paid big money, I’ll use the words of the analysts on the nationally broadcast Auburn-Tennessee game. On several occasions, the announcers pointed out that the offense was not clicking because Todd is not a runner and because he is injured, his arm is not strong.

“He lobs the ball, shotputs it,” one said.

“You can’t lob the ball down the middle,” countered the other.”

The polite criticism went on.

“If he’s hurt why is he in there?”

“Todd is really struggling.”

“Auburn is having trouble running without Burns.”

“You can’t be a little bit in the spread, It’s like being a little bit pregnant. You can’t hide the quarterback.”

“There are murmurs of discontent.”(referring to the crowd).

“To say it (the offense) is a work in progress is a little bit obvious.”

“It won’t work.”

When Kodi Burns was finally inserted into the game, there was a cheer from the Auburn crowd. A short drive, two missed passes and a missed field goal resulted in excitement from the crowd and the team but no points.

Later Burns was again substituted for Todd to the delight of the crowd. However, the three meaningless plays that were called for Burns did not use his ability. The analyst also picked up on this; ”Kodi Burns was very upset when he came out of the game. Burns seemed to say, ‘If you’re gonna let me play quarterback, let me play quarterback.’

With a final chance to prove himself, Burns did just that by throwing on the run to clinch the first down that sealed the victory. It was not a homerun play but it was a game winner and a play Todd could not have made.

When Auburn decided to go to the spread, the excitement among the Auburn faithful was off the charts. With an offense that was advertised as no huddle, speed against the play clock so as to run more plays, wearing down defenses, scoring in the second and fourth quarters, full of trickery, blah, blah, blah.

But, as of Monday morning we’re back to the same old, same old. Todd has been named the starter for Auburn’s next game against Vanderbilt. I have nothing against Chris Todd. I think he’s being put into a no win situation. He’s not playing well. If he’s injured he shouldn’t be starting. And it’s obvious right now to fans and television announcers that he’s playing in front of a guy who is better than he is. The quarterback position was supposedly so close you could flip a coin. But after starting the first game, and getting injured, Burns is now a distant second in the competition.

Auburn has a good team that could be special and exciting. The rock solid defense has proven on every Saturday but one this fall that it can withstand some offensive mistakes and still come out with a victory. That said; why not go with the guy with the most ability. He learns, gets better, becomes a better passer, and maybe the offense lives up to its promise. Makes sense to me.

Is it personal that Kodi Burns does not play more? Go figure.

Thom’s book Walk-On, My Reluctant Journey to Integration at Auburn University, is available in Borders and Walden bookstores, J&M Bookstore and at walkongossom.com

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4 Comments

Filed under As I See It by Thom Gossom, Post-Game

4 responses to “Thom Gossom’s “As I See It” — Tennessee edition

  1. …..I’ve gotta agree, Thom. They’re playing head-game politics, at this point. Burns doesn’t know the offense as well as Todd, and Todd doesn’t deserve to get benched after a good half, and then a terrible one featuring poor play calling. On the other hand, the sooner we get the thoroughbred broken in, the better. We’ve got some lesser defenses coming up. We’ve GOT to get Burns ready, even if we lose one of these games. Otherwise, we’re still going to be talking about quarterback woes, next year.

    …..Great column, BTW. No more valid voice than a former player!

  2. Paula

    Great colume Thom. I agree completely with everything you said, it’s almost like CTF said through the spring and fall that it was a close race thinking the whole time he would start Todd. CTF said in hois PC that he hoped that the fans weren’t booing Todd and he was right we were booing HIM. I can’t really understand the reason he has this love affair with Todd say he was “perfect” in the last 2 games, when everyone else saw it differently. Keep up the good work! FREE KODI!!!

  3. Looks like they are going to go without the spread offense this Saturday??? Just read that on the practice report, sorry to say, but about time. Hopefully they can have a good showing and clobber Vandy.

  4. el chupacabra

    This offense (spread) requires a lot of the quarterback, and that isn’t being met with Todd taking the snaps. He can’t run and can’t pass. I have nothing personal against the guy, but he doesn’t seem to have the ability – that’s no crime, as neither do I – but I wouldn’t want me to be starting at qb either. A lot of the running game relies on the defense believing the qb is a threat to run. Big surprise, the defense doesn’t buy into the fact that Todd is going to run the ball and blows up that zone read play (which along with that toss play seems to be the only two running plays we have) every time.

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