March 4, 2008

Injuries piling up for Auburn's offense

When Auburn was down to one scholarship running back midway through last Saturday's scrimmage, the Tigers went to the air.

Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin made the best of the situation, using the tailback shortage to give his quarterbacks extra work. But when freshman quarterback DeRon Furr suffered a mild shoulder sprain during the scrimmage, Franklin faced a whole new challenge.

Auburn is still without tailbacks Ben Tate (hamstring), Mario Fannin (shoulder) and Tristan Davis (foot). Tate and Davis are day-to-day, but Fannin's injury could cause him to miss all of spring practice. The other two backs' status for this Saturday's scrimmage is unknown.

Meanwhile, shoulder injuries to Furr and junior Chris Todd have left AU equally shorthanded at quarterback. Many of Franklin's practice drills require five quarterbacks, one for each eligible receiver.

Before Todd and Furr were injured, Auburn had four scholarship quarterbacks: Todd, Furr and sophomores Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle. A student assistant coach played the role of the fifth quarterback in drills.

Now, three student assistants have been pressed into duty alongside Burns and Caudle, AU's only healthy scholarship quarterbacks. It isn't ideal, but Franklin says the improvising isn't hurting the Tigers' preparation.

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