Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Emancipation of Brandon Cox

Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox is a changed man.
After absolutely stinking (6 interceptions) in the first 3 games of the season (going a combined 33 of 85 against Kansas State and South Florida)the senior quarterback has raised his game considerably. Auburn should have easily lost the Kansas State season opener, and did go on to lose to USF (Yeah, but they're No. 2 in the nation, you say) and Mississippi State(Cox had 42 yards in the game and was benched for Kodi Burns), yet here they are 4-0 in their last 4 games and coming to Baton Rouge with a full head of steam. Nobody has risen to the challenge more than Brandon Cox.
It seems a good benching will do that to a man. After the South Florida game, the calls to bench Cox became so intense that Auburn coaches let true freshman Kodi Burns work out with the first team in practice and dramatically increased his snaps. He saw action against Mississippi State and actually looked good.
That's all Brandon Cox needed.
As if set free from the burden of being "the" guy, or emancipated from any further insults, he went out and played ball.
He had a stellar qb rating of 145 in the New Mexico State game, and even topped that with a 171 qb rating against Vanderbilt. After throwing two interceptions in each of the first 3 games, he's settled down to throw only 1 in the last 4 games.
To be certain, coach Tommy Tuberville still wants true freshman Burns involved,but won't sacrifice the flow of the game to put him in if Cox is playing well. "We had a bigger role for him [at Arkansas], but we couldn't get ourselves out of a hole," Tuberville said. "We stayed in bad field position the entire second quarter. We were hoping to get [Burns] in more then."
And it's that kind of talk that has Cox playing the best ball of his life after an injury-plagued year last season. His re-emergence couldn't have come at a better time for Auburn as they face LSU this weekend. With a victory, Auburn resumes the driver's seat in the SEC West and can expect to clinch with a few more wins. This is, arguably, the biggest game of Cox's life and would be a crowning achievement to his college career. Will he pull it off?

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