AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s offensive players were hesitant to completely credit their success in Saturday’s scrimmage to the fact that senior Chris Todd was named the quarterback two days earlier.
It certainly didn’t hurt.
The Tigers’ first-team offense was crisper in its second scrimmage, improving on a disjointed performance earlier this week and scoring three of Auburn’s five touchdowns Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“I wouldn’t say it was just because of Chris,” running back Mario Fannin said. “It was more we understood what we needed to do today.”
Nevertheless, Todd was sharp, completing almost every pass he threw in the closed scrimmage, according to teammates, and connecting with Montez Billings for a touchdown.
“The more snaps and the more experience he gets with this offense, the better we’re going to get,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “The fact that you can keep a guy out there multiple reps at a time and the same drive, that’s big. Your linemen get used to him, the backs will get used to him and the receivers will get down their timing with the throws.”
Auburn split reps among its five quarterbacks almost evenly last Tuesday and struggled to find a rhythm offensively, committing three or four turnovers.
With Todd getting all the first-team snaps Saturday and leading the team on five or six series, the Tigers had no turnovers and only two penalties, one of which was a hold called against the second group.
“You kind of get in a rhythm and stuff,” Todd said. “Really, I think the biggest thing is getting the timing down with our receivers. I thought we did some good stuff today. There’s still stuff we can improve on.”
Running backs Ben Tate and Eric Smith had touchdown runs, according to teammates.
So did Kodi Burns, who worked as a receiver for two days after making the move from quarterback. He scored his touchdown on a long run out of the Wildcat formation, holding off two defenders as he crossed the goal line.
“Kodi did a great job today,” head coach Gene Chizik said. “He played receiver. He had a nice run out of Wildcat one time. He is kind of meshing into his new role very well. As we talked the other day, (he has) a great, great spirit and a great attitude. He’ll just continue to get better.”
“It’s Kodi,” cornerback Walt McFadden said. “You can’t count him out.”
Freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison got plenty of work with the second team, completing a touchdown pass as coaches continued to evaluate him in the competition for the backup spot.
“He did a solid job,” Malzahn said. “He held the ball a little long a couple times, but that comes from experience. In high school, you can get away with that. We’ll get that corrected.”
Junior quarterback Neil Caudle worked some in a two-minute drill near the end, Chizik said. Freshman Clint Moseley did not get any snaps.
The scrimmage marked the end of the first part of August camp for the Tigers, who had 11 straight days of practices that included three two-a-days and two scrimmages.
The team will have meetings the next two days but not practice, taking today off for Fan Day and Monday off for the first day of classes.
“They are due,” Chizik said. “Eleven straight days is really tough. They are ready to get two days off — they need it and they deserve it because they’ve worked really hard to this point.”