By Jay Coulter
On Wednesday we learned a lot more about Auburn’s game plan for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. After bringing Tony Franklin in from Troy to run the offense, Tommy Tuberville initially said Auburn would still run the West Coast offense for its game with Clemson.
Now the story is starting to change. At yesterday’s practice, Tuberville said that Franklin would now be responsible for play calling in Monday night’s game. Originally, Franklin’s role was to be that of an observer.
Quarterback Brandon Cox said he would start the game and get a majority of the snaps, but hinted that the other quarterbacks would also see action.
“Coach maybe said something about rotating, getting Kodi (Burns) in running some of the stuff,” said Cox. “Maybe getting Blake (Field) or Neil (Caudle) in to see how they are, to start analyzing them for next year, see how they react. I am starting still. I’m playing until they bring somebody else in.”
“We’re gong to have a mixture of all of it,” said Tuberville. “We need to run some of our old offense just to have some carryover.”
“It’s confusing, no doubt,” said offensive lineman Ryan Pugh. “I guess a lot of times fans would say we looked really confused running the old offense.
“It will all get worked out. It just comes down to getting after people and playing hard no matter what offense you’re running. It’s all about players making plays.”
This is an interesting development – and a risky one. I’m not a coach, but it seems risky to install a new offense in the 13th game of the year. No one expects a full blown spread offense, but it does appear we’ll see more than anticipated.
Ironically, Auburn was in a similar situation at the Peach Bowl in 1990. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden was brought in at season’s end by Pat Dye to run the offense. For the game against Indiana, Bowden had little influence on the game plan. This year things appear to be different.
King Dunlap’s career at Auburn is over. The senior left tackle is nursing a high ankle sprain and will not play against Clemson. Dunlap started 20 games for the Tigers, including six this year. He’ll be replaced by freshman Ryan Pugh.
Pugh will be starting his seventh game at the position and will be joined by fellow freshmen Chaz Ramsey and Lee Ziemba on the offensive line. Tuberville says he’ been pleased with the play of all three underclassmen.
“It’s been a different experience for all of us,” said Tuberville. “We like to bring them in and hold them back a year but I don’t what we would have done if we hadn’t had some of these freshmen come in and play and play well for us.”
Linebacker Tray Blackmon’s status for the bowl game is still questionable. He continues to be hobbled by a sore knee. Still, Blackmon’s just happy to be at a bowl game. You will remember that last year, he was suspended for the Cotton Bowl.
Auburn returns to the practice field this morning at 11:00 CT. The 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT and be televised nationally by ESPN.