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7.09.2009

Player spotlight: Neil Caudle

NEIL CAUDLE
Age: 21 (born 5/19/88)
Class this season: Junior
Hometown: Birmingham

Playing career:
•2008, sophomore: Saw limited action behind Chris Todd and Kodi Burns. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin disparaged Caudle during two-a-days for being prone to interceptions.
•2007, redshirt freshman: Saw limited action playing behind Brandon Cox and Kodi Burns.
•2006, true freshman: Redshirted while ostensibly rehabilitating knee injury suffered in high school.

The basics: Caudle played at Spain Park High, where he was phenomenal as a junior. He missed most of his senior season with a torn knee ligament. He still had a fairly high profile among some big college programs after his senior season concluded.

He never found a role during the Tommy Tuberville regime. It was reasonable to assume he'd get a shot in 2008, but Tony Franklin terminally soured on Caudle. The offensive coordinator deemed Caudle "unreliable" and that was the end of the story.

Caudle found new life under Gene Chizik and, more important, new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. The Tigers' new regime has a more developed appreciation for Caudle's passing ability and overall decision-making.

The skills: Caudle has what I'd consider an average SEC arm. He can make commanding throws inside of 25 yards without much issue. His deep balls lack the zip you'd see from Kodi Burns. Still, Caudle is more accurate. His throwing motion is refined. It's repeatable. His footwork is refined.

Caudle is not immobile. He lacks Burns' speed, but Caudle has little problem extricating himself from standard pocket pressure. I watched carefully when Caudle was asked to throw on the run. I wasn't impressed. His throws tended to float in those scenarios.

We're talking about a small sample size, though.

He is not a hyper player on the field.

The man behind the mask: Caudle is a fairly quiet kid who carefully measures the things he says. A lot of kids in his situation -- left for dead by a coaching staff -- would have sought a transfer to escape feelings of failure. Caudle didn't. He remained confident that continued improvement would give him a reasonable shot at playing time, which now looks like a shrewd decision.

Auburn wrapped spring practice without a clear No. 1 atop the depth chart at quarterback, which has to be considered a victory for Caudle. Armed with confidence, accuracy and an unusual drive to revive his career, Caudle is expected to be a major player in the quarterback race during two-a-days.

It's my opinion that Caudle's interception problems of 2008 were a function of compromised confidence. Franklin's approach to coaching football, which includes surprisingly blunt assessments, clearly didn't work well for Caudle. He lost his swerve. He has regained most of it.

The crystal ball for 2009: Caudle begins the season as Auburn's No. 1 quarterback.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at jgtate@gannett.com.

100 Comments:

Blogger Dear Leader said...

Go Substance

10:35 AM  
Blogger Brother Jet said...

subStanford Simmons

10:37 AM  
Blogger Dear Leader said...

If he can throw,,,I still think Todd is going to sneak up on everyone.

I know it is a big IF....

10:38 AM  
Blogger wes said...

Jay, no need to "caudle" us...tell us what you really think.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

agree with DL, IF

11:28 AM  
Blogger Scott Chocolate said...

Posted on previous thread:

The Fullwood discussion made me want to do this. History of AU in Heisman voting:

1957 Jimmy "Red" Phillips 6th
1960 Ed Dyas 4th
1963 Jimmy Sidle 7th
1964 Tucker Frederickson 6th
1970 Pat Sullivan 6th
1971 Pat Sullivan 1st
1985 Bo Jackson 1st
1986 Brent Fullwood 6th
2000 Rudi Johnson 10th

I think some of our other backs would have been in there, had they not been splitting playing time. (or in the case of James Brooks/Joe Cribbs/James Bostic, had AU been on TV).

Btw, it's disgusting how many times Bammers have been in the top 10, but at least they've never won one!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

I'm not on any QBs bandwagon. I'm just pulling for a QB to be a real winner this fall. I don't care if it's Starfish, My Eyes Burns, Gimpy, Crutches, or any of the 3 babes.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

I'll take my JB over Jet's BF.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Brother Jet said...

Since I lost brownie points with you, THT, I think I'll ask Mrs. Jet to whip up a batch of Ghiardelli brownies tonight to console myself.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

put 'em in a bowl with ice cream and you'll be just fine.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Aeronaut said...

Cadbury's chocolates are overrated.

11:44 AM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

I thought Aundrey Bruce figured in the Heisman voting. I could be wrong and it is unusual for a defensive guy to do so, but I thought he was there. He was actually a bit overhyped in my estimation.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Dear Follower said...

Dear Leader must have a posting time schedule from Jay G. He's always first. I'm last and I will keep it that way.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

Actually, I'm last. Good remarks Jay G. I pity the day you write a dud, people here will be outraged.

12:00 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

I thought I announced Todd as the starter last month. Ya'll must have missed it.

My guess is Caudle will be the backup, but I have no doubt that Jay has seen a lot more of him than I have.

We still need a cool nickname for Caudle.

Neil "the real deal" Caudle
Neil "the ax murderer" Caudle
Neil "and bob" Caudle
Neil "for real" Caudle
Neil "what am I doing here" Caudle
Neil "no knees" Caudle

12:00 PM  
Blogger Dear Follower said...

Hate it when hot lady walks into your office to sell you something. Much harder to be an ass to than the scumbag guy that comes.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Dear Follower said...

Steve- By being missed, you mean ignored?

Just Kidding!

12:03 PM  
Blogger Dear Follower said...

Or am I?

12:03 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

The QB race is fascinating. If we decided to be a run oriented team and try to win games with defense, I can see Kodi being the guy. I hope this isn't the case.

12:05 PM  
Blogger jhag said...

GO NEIL!!!

12:05 PM  
Blogger jhag said...

I'm not even going to pay attention to the QB race it bores me considering they all are equally bad

12:05 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

I must admit the in terms of a great comeback story, it would be great to see Caudle get his shot. I don't recall him playing at all except against Tennessee Tech I believe. The kid has been patient.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Will said...

How bout Neil "The Guy Who Will Wants to Start at QB" Caudle. Too long?

12:07 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

jhag, I sort of agree. I don't believe Todd would be bad with a healthy arm. I just see him as a middle of the road type QB.

I think Kodi has had his opportunities to prove himself and hasn't.

I think Caudle is the wildcard. He certainly had enough hype out of highschool.

12:08 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

What I would like to see is us manage the QB position better. There should always be a number 2 that is being groomed to take over and will get playing time.

If I were the coach I would tell my starter to expect the number 2 to get in the game around 10-20% of the time and to play a lot during blowouts.

I would also give the starter an option. If he couldn't deal with the backup coming in occasionally, we wouldn't do that. He could set the bench and I would start the backup.

I would also definitely put Kodi in during obvious run situations.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Steve, the only problem with subbing Kodi in during run situations is the defense keys in on that and I'm not so sure he has the ability to still make it happen like a Tebow.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

I'm all for a good QB conversation, but i'm actually getting tired of, me, the QB pot stirrer.

Oh, by the way, Rollison '09 is going to have report all it's campaign contributions because it is growing rapidly.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Eddie, thank you for keeping all the sunshine pumpers and hypers employed during these uncertain times. You're a great American.

12:19 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

Sean, that is true, but the defense has a lot more problems when he only comes in occasionally. When he is in all the time, the defense adjusts, just like MSU did against Kodi two years ago. I knew we were dead when he played most of the game.

That being said, Kodi still needs to be able to pass it occasionally. Playing a QB that has been told not to throw the ball is idiotic and it seems like that is what we did a lot with him in 2007.

12:20 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

Eddie, I really do hope to see Rollison of Moseley get some playing time this year. One of them is likely our QB in a year or two.

12:22 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

There is also another very good reason that Neil Caudle should be the starter. It would make Franklin look dumber, which would be a remarkable feat in itself.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

I think the QB horse has been beaten to death enough to kill a cat and its nine. Let's try working over the WRs. Who do you think comes on strong this year who has been previously hyped? My guess is Zachary.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Franklin is the Costanza of offensive coordinators. If Caudle gets the nod, it will only confirm my statements. If it makes sense, I'll do the opposite, hence two QBs. Hey, I like to run a full playbook to keep the defense guessing, hell, I'll just cut it down. Caudle could have been my best option, but Todd's arm is shot so I'll play him.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Hawthorne is my guess.

12:25 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

I have high hopes for Hawthorne and Zachary. Both were high profile recruits that were sucked into the Knox receiving black hole.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Macho Grande said...

If we are relying on Hawthorne, Tate, and Burns for this offense, this offense is going to be offensive this year.

Settle in for 17 points a game and a lot of close games.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

Awesome substance by MONICA with that call.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Go Monica, the legal beagle.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Brother Jet said...

WR to emerge?

Easy.

James Swinton.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

I thought Swinton "graduated"

1:08 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

Scott Choculator, thanks for the Heisman history up there. cool grits.

and in case yall didn't know it, even though it's 58 days till AU football, it's more like 30 till youth league football kicks off. it's crazy busy up here.

1:08 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

crap, i missed Monnie on the radio?

1:09 PM  
Blogger Macho Grande said...

ScottieB,

Can I get a shirt that says the following:

Over Macho Grande? (front)

I'll never be over Macho Grande (back)

Cost?

1:10 PM  
Blogger Brother Jet said...

Nah, Sheriff, you're wrong. Dead wrong.

Swinton was granted a rare 14th year of eligibility to reprise his role as a "player to watch."

1:11 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Excuse me Stewardess, I speak Jive.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Brother Jet said...

Scottie B ...

If producing in bulk would help, I might be down for one of those with my man "MG."

Eagerly awaiting my HABOTN cap.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Since Luv and I are each in healthcare related fields, I'll speak for her and say we might be interested in a shirt like this:

Front: A hospital? What is it?
Back: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

Keep Hate Alive.

1:18 PM  
Blogger scottie b in tennessee said...

macho-macho man i can whip you up a simple one for about $10. nothing special, but i'm sure it's all about the 'wow' factor anyhows.

Jet, i've got a sample done on the cap art but haven't had a chance to get my camera set up to do 'work' type stuff here at the office. it's coming soon. we need to get it rolling before my embroidery guy gets too backed up. the 'campfire' on the front of the cap looks fantastic!

1:19 PM  
Blogger jaywall14 said...

My take on Caudle... It's hard to say b/c I haven't seen him in any game action since he arrived, and practices are now closed to the public. He has that "hope if the unknown" factor going for him though. We have seen Todd and Burns enough to not have much faith in what they can do on the field. Trotter is hurt and the others are true freshmen. That being said, Caudle may have become this year's postseason fan favorite.
Last year, Franklin seemed to be pulling for Todd all the way.Tubs was a Kodi guy. Caudle had no chance from day 1.
This year seems different though with him getting reps. I agree that no starter being named in the Spring is to his advantage. He will have to be noticeable better than Burns and Todd though to jump them for the starting job since they both have started games in the past and he hasn't. I, for one, am pulling for him. Though I'm not sure why. LOL!

1:20 PM  
Blogger Macho Grande said...

ScottieB,

Thanks. I'll be in touch.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Macho Grande said...

Doug is right. Bowl ties ins are a big part of what's wrong with the BCS.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

I've been reading a lot of scuttle about Tyrik Rollison leaving Auburn.

Is this just Bammer smoke screen or is there something to it?

Why am I feeling like I did last year with the DeRon Furr incident?

1:58 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

Buford, where have you read something about Tyrik leaving? He is on campus and I have seen zero comments about that and I frequent most of the major Auburn boards.

2:04 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Yep, I'm with Steve, that's the first I've heard of any such rumor.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

It was from enemy territory, Steve, but the guy who posted it referenced Jay G. posting something about it and removing it. The poster is not one to stir the pot but he may be doing it to get through boredom. Not sure.

2:06 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

P.S. If you have some major news such as possibly a player leaving, please include a link. If not, this becomes much like the al.com forum with weird rumors flying about.

2:06 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

I wouldn't worry about it Buford. I have seen enough Bambi rumors to know that they are about as reliable as they are bright.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

I have deleted that link. I have confirmed it to just be pot stirring in the dead of the off-season.

In other news, what's the word on Hawthorne's injury?

2:11 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

I've been informed that he sustained a broken foot or something.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Buford - I hit the link prior to deletion. I have 2 comments as follows:
1 - I believe it's wishful thinking on a humper's part and trying to stave off some boredom until his sister comes home from a babysitting gig so they can then do what they do.
2 - you really shouldn't go trolling sites like that, they're loaded with assorted viruses and malware.

Keep Hate Alive.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Just heard that myself, Buford.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

TR - Tyrik Rollison or Trent Richardson.

Trent is rumored to be leaving bama...perhaps someone got confused.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Peeps: I took a tour of the new basketball facility, which is approximately 60% completed.

I'm working on that video now. I expect it to be ready around 3 p.m. CDT.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

I haven't posted anything about Rollison, nor have I deleted anything about Rollison.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Tar Heel Tiger said...

Caudle taxonomy:

Genu Polyreconstructum

2:25 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

Thanks for clarifying, Jay G.

I figured it was just bored people, but was worth asking.

Looking forward to seeing new arena.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

The arena is going to be really nice when it's completed.

Not big. Just nice.

2:29 PM  
Blogger AU1292 said...

Hawthorne broke his foot and is out 4-8 weeks.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

Smaller is better in my opinion. Better to have space for fewer, louder fans than to have to hang banners to cover up emptiness.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Buford T. Justice said...

Do you have a link for that AU1292? I've been hearing the same.

2:31 PM  
Blogger AU1292 said...

The link is on Rivals now but I don't want to post the article since its a pay site but apparently he broke a bone on the side of his foot. He is going to B'ham tomorrow for a further diagnosis.

2:36 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

If that is true about Hawthorne, it isn't so bad. He would still be ready when we reach the meat of our schedule. Fortunately we are fairly deep at receiver. Something like this is something we can't afford with the offensive linemen or linebackers.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Eddie, looks like your guess was wrong!

2:38 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

Sean, if he would be back in 4-8 weeks he would have a good shot at being ready for the start of the season.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Steve, foot injuries can be funny things. Being ready to start practicing and being game ready are two different things.

2:45 PM  
Blogger ehyou said...

Interesting story...
I currently have a project renovating a building in Macon called Liz Reed's. It's a very old, downtown, 2 story bar-type place. I found out today that it was owned by the Elizabeth Reed of Allman Bros song fame.

I also found out that they got the name of the song from her grave-stone at Rose Hill Cemetery, which the band used to frequent to hang out and write music.

Pretty cool says I.

Article

2:46 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

I think we can get by Louisiana Tech and MSU while he gets back into playing condition. The only concern I would have is if it became a Tristan Davis type thing.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Aeronaut said...

I think Todd gets the nod, and Burns will take turns. Caudle will do the clean up.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

I think Tristan Davis earned/created a whole new injury category in which to be classified.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

Thanks Buford and Eddie.

2:55 PM  
Blogger §teve From Columbia said...

Yea, Davis should have gotten another 4 or 5 years of eligibility where he could have ended up competing in a decent number of games. He was constantly having issues.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Monica, I was unable to hear your substance. Summary?

2:57 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Heeeyyyy... there was an imposter michael earlier. MJT says get yer own name!!!!!!!!! sdlkgj aesrkgj asdglkjasdg

3:01 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

Summary: Yes, the guv't CAN change the BCS processes and what is important right now is the people on the subcommittee and the states they represent.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

cool.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Ran into some minor editing issues with the video, but we're back on track.

Revised ETA: 3:40 p.m. CDT.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

We can have only one Michael.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Sorry...AUDevil from ITAT here. Using my only GMail account to post on here.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

So what is the secret to getting postage rights on ITAT? I've applied a couple of times and been shut down.

3:18 PM  
Blogger michael said...

Holy irony, Batman!

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/football/nfl/07/09/mcnair-psa.ap/index.html?eref=si_topstories

3:21 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Scary.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Jay G. Tate said...

Video is UP.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Spongeworthy said...

You are all wrong about the QB. Malzan, in a fit of genius, installs the wishbone in the sumnmer. Mario Fannin returns to his roots as plays QB. Rollinson moves to Tailback and ends the year 3rd in Heisman voting. Au wins SEC Championship while maintaining an unbelievable 40 mins offensive possession time.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Jason Crawford said...

I'm officially rooting for Neil to be the starter. I'm not a big Franklin fan, but Franklin's right in this case...for whatever reason, Caudle threw way too many interceptions during the Spring last year. But he seems to have fixed the problem.

His arm is good enough. He threw with so much more confidence than Kodi during the Spring this year and that is inexcusable on Kodi's part...he's had so many opportunities.

The best pass during the Spring Game was a TD from Neil where he looked off the safety and threw to a covered WR in the endzone. I haven't seen an AU QB throw a pass like that since...wow...Jason Campbell.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Jordan Hair said...

It has appeared to me that Kodi's arm strength is a bit of a myth. And Caudle threw on the run a lot better than Burns did in the spring.

Here's to hoping Todd's arm, which is now almost restored to what he needs, stays healthy in '09. He's the best we have until one of these young bucks is ready.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Curtis said...

QB's - One only knows a few plays, the other panics at times - unless something gives, neither will finish the season as starter. Coaches still looking for the complete package - It may very well end up CT or TR.

4:59 PM  
Blogger boknowsbo said...

I only feel confident in one thing. A true freshman will not come in and take the job. Rollison will need to spend a LOT of time with Coach Yox. With a healthy Todd, Burns and Caudle, I don't see how any incoming qb escapes a red shirt. Thoughts?

1:37 PM  
Blogger astatguy said...

I wonder if Chris Todd will be a factor. Fannin says he has a lot of zip on the ball now.

6:21 PM  

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