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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Burns catching on at wide receiver

I wrote a story about quarterback-turned-wide receiver Kodi Burns for today's newspaper. Here's how it starts:

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s football team had the day off a week ago Monday, but not Kodi Burns. The quarterback-turned-wide receiver took it upon himself to go to the Tigers’ indoor practice facility and work on the finer points of his new position, catching over 100 passes on a JUGS machine.

Word spread. Other wideouts got text messages from teammates. Soon, every one of them was there, working alongside Burns.

“That is off Kodi’s leadership,” wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor said. “They don’t want to get out-worked by him.”

It has been nearly two weeks since Auburn’s coaches named Chris Todd the starting quarterback and introduced the radical idea of moving Burns to wide receiver in order to get his athletic abilities on the field.

And while Burns’ receiving skills continue to be a work in progress — hence the never-ending JUGS machine work — Taylor promises the junior will have a role in his rotation of receivers.

“With Kodi moving into the wide receiver room, that has opened up some doors and closed the slot for somebody else,” Taylor said. “He’s going to be out there. He’s proved that he can make some plays.”

Read the whole thing here. And while you're on the Internet clicking around, why don't you follow the blog on Twitter?

There has been some internal debate in the media room of just how much Burns will be on the field this year. Auburn's coaches seem serious about involving him in the game plan, but you have to wonder how quickly somebody who has never played wide receiver can pick up the position (it is a lot more than just running and catching).

Burns won't fail for a lack of effort, that's for sure. He's jumped into this switch with all he's got, as evidenced by his extra work, which takes place every day after practice, at least when Burns can squeeze in the time.

I truly think Burns will be the Wildcat quarterback, even if he's a departure from the speed back that usually goes into that role. I think his ability to throw and his shiftiness are enough to compensate for his lack of blazing speed. As for receiver, I remain skeptical that someone can get everything about playing the position down in three weeks. I think he'll be used in certain situations, but I doubt if Burns will be one of the main go-to guys at receiver.

I think his biggest value is his ability to give Auburn different looks from all over the field. Teams have to respect his ability to pass, even if he's a wide receiver. That seems like a great toy for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to use this year, and as he's proven at previous stops, he's imaginative enough to make it work.


Marcus said...

I read that in practice yesterday they ran a play that involved a lateral to Burns which allows him to either run or pass. Sounds like Gus is already working on some trickeration using his new toy :)

ron mexico said...

I don't really think the wildcat guy needs to be a speed guy as much as he needs to be a good downhill runner. That's what Darren McFadden was good at, he just happened to be a freak of nature and ran 4.3 as well. To me the speed guy needs to be the man that goes in motion (Felix Jones or Ricky Williams). For Auburn i'm thinking this guy will be McCalleb. That's what's going to be fun about this year, we are going to get to see the dolphins/razorbacks version (the versions that have had the most success) not just putting a running back in shotgun and snapping him the ball.