Archive for Saturday, September 1, 2007

KSU, Auburn QBs hope to bounce back

September 1, 2007


— Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox played like an aging veteran down the stretch last season, gimpy legs and all.

Kansas State's Josh Freeman, meanwhile, performed like exactly what he was: a talented freshman thrust into the starting job.

The two passers are at different stages in their careers, but both are trying to rebound from inconsistent, occasionally woeful seasons entering tonight's season opener for both teams.

The 18th-ranked Tigers are depending heavily on their oldest player to turn things around now that he's recovered from injuries to both knees.

"I know if I was healthy, I'd have had a better season last year," the fifth-year senior said. "There's part of me that just wants to go out there and prove that I can play at a higher level when I'm healthy."

He certainly has the experience. Cox is 19-5 as a starter and turns 24 in October - meaning he's not only Auburn's oldest player but is older than 18 quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters.

Like him, Freeman figures to play at a higher level. He showed impressive flashes of potential in eight starts as a freshman and fared well in a couple of big games, especially for a youngster. But he also had lapses - three interceptions against Kansas, a 63-yard performance against Missouri. Both were losses.

Cox had some uncharacteristically poor performances, too. He didn't total 300 yards passing in his final three games combined last season, throwing just three touchdown passes down the stretch and getting picked off four times in a loss to Georgia.

His coach is expecting a stronger finish to Cox's career.

"I've always in my career watched these fifth-year senior quarterbacks, and never does it fail to see these guys come in and play well," coach Tommy Tuberville said.

He need only point to Jason Campbell, who went from an inconsistent performer to an NFL first-rounder in his final season when Auburn went 13-0 three years ago. In fact, the Tigers have averaged 9.7 wins in their previous 10 seasons with a senior starter returning at quarterback.

Plus, Cox ranks second behind Campbell in career passing efficiency at Auburn despite the disappointing junior season.

Freeman is a youngster with a JaMarcus Russell-like physique who led the Wildcats to a win over Texas with a veteran-like performance last season.

But the 6-foot-6, 255-pounder had some numbers more typical for a freshman quarterback, too.

Namely a whopping 15 interceptions against just six touchdowns.


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