Injuries to Auburn's offense from opener include 3 receivers, 1 QB

Updated: September 1, 2008, 12:34 PM ET
Associated Press

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn's offensive tally through one game: three injured receivers, one hurt quarterback and quite a few bruised egos.

Promising freshman receiver Philip Pierre-Louis tore a knee ligament returning the opening kickoff of the 10th-ranked Tigers' 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe and is lost for the season, coach Tommy Tuberville said Sunday.

Quarterback Kodi Burns is expected to miss Monday's practice after a large gash was opened on his shin by a facemask in the third quarter, but will play Saturday against Southern Mississippi. Tuberville said Burns had no swelling on the leg at all Sunday.

Starting receiver James Swinton hyperextended his knee on the next play and didn't return but shouldn't miss a game. Montez Billings (hamstring) missed the opener and is questionable again, Tuberville said.

Despite an ineffective passing game, Tuberville said the Tigers will stick with rotating Burns and Chris Todd at quarterback at least for one more game before the Southeastern Conference season starts.

The Tigers got 321 yards rushing but most of their 85 yards through the air came in the fourth quarter in the debut of Tony Franklin's spread offense. Only three of their 19 first downs came through the air.

Burns, Todd and the remaining receivers struggled. Tuberville said the quarterbacks never found their rhythm and the receivers need to improve on running their routes.

"I looked up and we've got 28 yards passing in the first three quarters, as much as we've worked on the passing game," Tuberville said. "That obviously wasn't what we were looking for. It will definitely get better. When you've got a good running game, it gives you a good start."

Franklin said Pierre-Louis had made the most plays of all the receivers during fall camp and Swinton had been the most consistent.

Franklin said both quarterbacks would play against Southern Miss, but wouldn't necessarily alternate every series again. Burns passed for just 15 yards while running for 69; Todd threw for 70 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"The quarterbacks were both just blah," Franklin said. "They were average. I did a poor job of coaching them and it showed.

"Probably the biggest thing was that neither one of them ever got into a rhythm and that's my fault, the way I rotated them. We're going to play them both again, but I'll probably have a different way of rotating them. If one guy goes good, then he may stay in forever."

Franklin said he felt both quarterbacks were nervous thinking that one mistake could end their night. This platoon situation is as new to him as it is to the players.

"I've never done this before," he said. "I've always said you're stupid if you do it. It's funny how the world works. Be careful what you say, because one day it'll come back to you."

Franklin said a number of downfield routes were called but either the receivers didn't get open or the quarterback didn't pull the trigger.

"I don't think either one of them felt that trust factor, and probably because of [the fear that], 'If I make the bad throw or the bad decision, it might be my last one,' " he said. "I've got to get that out of their heads."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press