By Jay Coulter
Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin doesn't like excuses. Speaking to the Columbus(Ga.)/Phenix City (Al.) Auburn Club this past week, Franklin said the Tigers have the talent on offense to win now.
"If I wait to get players that fit my offense perfectly, I won't be here long," said Franklin. Tommy (Tuberville) expects to win now. "We have the people here to win this year. As time goes on, we'll recruit more skill players, but I'm pleased with how our team has answered the challenge."
Being able to put a game plan in against Clemson was a tremendous boost for the team says Franklin. "We were so much farther ahead in spring practice because of what we did during those nine days before the bowl game," he said.
Franklin spoke highly of receiver James Swinton. "He caught my eye the first day," Franklin said. "He showed promise in the fall, but really improved in the spring. He has a chance to be something special."
That's mighty big words for a kid who caught only one pass for 16 yards last season. Franklin said that Swinton got lost in the shuffle last year, but now has new life under his system.
While acknowledging the concern fans have over who'll play quarterback, Franklin is taking a laid back approach.
"Kodi (Burns) is a gifted runner, but was a below average passer last season," he said. "I got him to average during the spring. He needs to be great to play. We'll see if he takes the next step in fall practice."
"Chris (Todd) has got to get himself to 100 percent," said Franklin. "Right now, he's around 70-75 percent. That's not going to do. The injury is really frustrating him. If neither gets there, I don't have a problem playing both of them. I'm looking for about ten receivers to play; why can't I play two quarterbacks?"
Franklin is amused at how other schools have been using the Spread Offense to recruit against him with running backs.
"The spread is just a formation. It doesn't mean we throw on every down," he said. "It just means we spread the field out. In fact, at Troy last year we threw half the time and ran the other half. It was 50/50 down the middle. Our backs are going to get opportunities."
Listening to Franklin, you come away impressed. He's a very engaging person and knows a heck of a lot about how to move the football. He's also aware of the expectations. Those around the athletic department say that he's already in full season mode, working most evenings until after midnight. The Auburn offense looks to be in good hands.