War Eagle Extra

Losing like this a new thing for Tigers

AUBURN, Ala. — Only a few of Auburn’s current seniors were around in 2003, the last time the Tigers lost back-to-back games.

It happened twice that year. Now, the Tigers have opened the season with three close ball games — two of which ended with losses. It’s certainly not what Auburn’s players anticipated this season. The seniors called a team meeting Sunday, unwilling to watch their season drift away.

Different players addressed different aspects, said senior Zach Gilbert, who talked to the team along with Quentin Groves and Josh Thompson.

"I just wanted everybody to come together and have faith, not to lose faith," Gilbert said. "Q talked about the bandwagon and things of that nature. I know it doesn’t seem good for us right now, but I’ve got faith. Things will get turned around. We’ve just got to believe that."

Gilbert said he told the team it’s easy to say things will go right when a team is winning, but they’re really tested during adversity.

"Where’s your character? Where’s your faith," he said he told the team.

The Tigers will have their chance to test their character and resiliency this weekend when they host New Mexico State, which features the wide-open offense of Hal Mumme. The Tigers (1-2, 0-1 SEC) must overcome losses to South Florida and Mississippi State.

"We’ve got a disappointed bunch of kids that played hard, but came up short again for the second time in two weeks," Tuberville said. "Most of them are not used to it. I told them we’ve got to learn from it."

They’re also in the midst of a possible quarterback change which coaches would like to keep from becoming a controversy.

Fifth-year senior Brandon Cox was ineffective in Auburn’s first two games and threw two interceptions to open against MSU. Coaches inserted freshman Kodi Burns, who guided the Tigers to two second-quarter scores and the lead. However, with the Tigers trailing by five late in the game, they sent Cox back on the field. Cox led the Tigers to the MSU 9, but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.

Auburn coaches must now decide how to utilize the strengths of the two quarterbacks and get Auburn’s offense going.

"We’ll work Kodi in with Brandon this week at quarterback," Tuberville said. "Kodi did a good job in some areas but was limited in some areas. I thought Brandon came in and gave us a little spark, but we still didn’t get the ball in the end zone. We’ve got to figure out a way and a system to probably play both of them."

Offensive coordinator Al Borges said Burns played much as he expected, making typical rookie mistakes.

"He did some freshman things," Borges said. "At the same time, he has some electricity about him. If you get him out in the open field, he can make some things happen. We need to iron out the mistakes."

Contact Christa Turner at 706-571-8505