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An Auburn History Lesson: Platooning Quarterbacks

I’ve received several emails today about my reference to the platooning Auburn did at quarterback in 1985. One of my very favorite readers and writers, Acid Reign gives some good background on the situation back in the mid-1980’s. He posted it tonight and I thought I would share it with everyone. It’s a good history lesson...

It wasn't just Walden (and Pat Washington)platooning in 1985. Jeff Burger was in the rotation, too. 1985 was a messed-up year of wasted talent, offensively. Jack Crowe has never recovered as a coach, and 22 years later is coaching a small Alabama school trying to move up. (Jacksonville State) 1985 was a year I worked 75-80 hour weeks, and longed for the college hours I thought were so hard a year or two before...

.....Pat Washington had moved up in 1984 and become the starting QB. He was a class act, and a great talent, but he was NOT an option QB. The '84 offense got embarrassed, and looked like a broken model-T Ford, on national TV against defending national champ Miami, and Texas in Austin. Washington did find a way to be productive and ultimately win nine games, but we were a team with a ton of talent offensively in 1984, and no sense of focus.

.....In 1985, we installed a power-I sort of offense, a throwback to the early sixties, at best. After spring drills, it was clear that we were going to have to hit a few passes to make this thing work against good defenses, even with Bo Jackson and Brent Fullwood in the 1-2 I-back depth chart. Pat Washington took some horrific lumps in 1984, and was not the passer in spring drills some thought he should be. By the opener against USL, Walden was starting, Burger was the backup, and Pat Washington was third team.

.....We ROLLED USL. Bo had 285 on the ground. When Bo got tired, Fullwood had something like 185. Yeah,  baby, we were Tailback-U! Southern Miss was next. And, they gave that offense problems. Just a hiccup, we said. No big deal.

.....In Knoxville, the Vols SOLD OUT to stop Bo. The QBs HAD to do something, to move the ball. Instead, we got a turnover-fest that fed the Vol offense time and time again. Bo took himself out. Us, the No. 1 team in the nation, took a 38-20 whipping. Pat Washington was not impressive, but he was the only QB that managed the game worth anything, and did not turn it over.

.....Shortly thereafter, Walden was diagnosed with physical problems that would permanently remove him from the field. Burger was a less-experienced drop-back passer than Pat Washington, and we limped to an 8-5 finish that cost coordinators Crowe and Orgel their jobs. "Jack Crowe's gotta go," anyone? Yeah, as much as I hate it, booing our own team is nothing new.

.....With Jackson gone, in 1986, we adopted a new offensive philosophy, threw on first down, won 10 games, and had a top-10 finish. But, by this time, Pat Dye's cough had kicked in. We didn't know it at the time, but recruiting would start going downhill, during our greatest SEC championship run.