Todd’s first real test takes place in Starkville

By Lee Roberts  |   Thursday, September 11, 2008  |  Comments( 0 )

Auburn Tigers
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The preseason is over. While Auburn’s wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Southern Miss count on the overall record, the season doesn’t start for SEC teams until the first conference game. The Tigers are entering conference play led by Chris Todd, who has emerged as the starting quarterback after two games. Todd played well against Southern Miss, but now the real test begins.

This Saturday, Auburn travels to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State. The Bulldogs don’t appear to be world-beaters this year, with a loss to Louisiana Tech already in the books. However, the MSU team that shows up Saturday is going to be vastly different than the one that lost to Louisiana Tech. It will be comprised of the same players, but the team that takes the field against Auburn will play with more passion, energy and focus. That’s just life in the SEC.

The Bulldogs won’t be intimidated by Auburn, especially considering they rolled into The Plains last year and waltzed out with a win. You can be sure the Tommy Tuberville has reminded his players of that loss this week.

Auburn should be able to go to Starkville and get a win, but it will depend on how well Todd responds to the hostile atmosphere and a faster defense. In his first game as a starter, Todd was quite efficient, completing 21-of-31 passes for 248 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but that isn’t as significant as the fact he didn’t turn the ball over. As long as he continues to minimize mistakes and move the ball down the field, he will remain the starter.

Todd achieved his solid statistics against Southern Miss by focusing on short and intermediate passing, which is a hallmark of the spread offense. His accuracy was always superior to Kodi Burns', the other quarterback in contention for the starting spot. At some point, probably against MSU, Todd is going to have to take some shots down the field. The Bulldogs won’t allow the Tigers to dink and dunk their way to success this week, and LSU certainly won’t let it happen next week.

The other question for Todd is how he responds to adversity. Auburn hasn’t trailed yet this season, winning 34-0 over ULM and then jumping out to a 24-0 lead over Southern Miss en route to a 27-13 victory. Todd is going to face pressure and this week might be the first time he has to lead his team from behind. Tuberville can only hope that Todd’s ready, because the heat’s about to get turned up.
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About Lee Roberts

Born in Richmond, Va, I moved south to UNC-Chapel Hill for college and received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. I currently live in Charlotte, NC and cover Auburn, LSU and the ACC.
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