Cox's First Comeback At Auburn Is Still His Most Impressive
Cox is the second quarterback in Auburn history to beat Alabama in three straight games
Dec. 29, 2007
ATLANTA (AP) -- Brandon Cox will be leaving Auburn with some impressive career milestones.
Cox is only the second quarterback in Auburn history to beat Alabama in three straight games.
Cox, 26-9 as a three-year starter, is tied with Pat Sullivan for third on Auburn's list of wins by a quarterback. Jason Campbell, who also had three straight wins over Alabama, is first with 31.
Cox also has delivered in the clutch, leading scoring drives to give No. 22 Auburn the lead with less than 4 minutes in the game five times this season. But those scoring drives, or having to reclaim his starting job after being benched for one game this season, rank behind Cox's biggest comeback.
Cox, who will lead Auburn against No. 15 Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Monday night, was diagnosed with a muscle disorder called myasthenia gravis before his 10th-grade year at Hewitt-Trussville High School in Trussville, Ala. The symptoms of muscle weakness were under control with medication until he had a car wreck before his freshman season at Auburn.
Cox suffered a concussion and severe double vision as the muscle disorder flared up.
He spent one semester at home, working at his father's carpet business, before deciding he wasn't through with football.
"It's been a long road," Cox said Friday as he reflected on his career. "There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I've learned from everything. I've learned from the positives and the negatives. That's what it's about."
Cox's career comeback inspired his teammates, who say they've come to expect the senior to never stay down.
"It kind of reminds me of the time he went down in the Florida game last year," defensive end Quentin Groves said. "He got hit and he stayed down for a while. I thought 'I know this is not the Brandon I know, to stay down.' When he bounced up I thought 'There's Brandon again.'
"It's just something, what he's been through and what he continues to go through day by day. They said he couldn't play, that he had a disease he couldn't bounce back from and today he's our starting quarterback. That speaks volumes for his strength of character and what he stands for."
More adversity came this season. Cox threw two interceptions in each of his first three games, including losses to South Florida and Mississippi State.
Cox was benched, ending his streak of 24 consecutive starts, as freshman Kodi Burns started against New Mexico State. Cox regained the starting job by completing 13 of 19 passes with a touchdown in a relief role, beginning a stretch in which the left-hander threw only one interception in seven games.
"I've done a lot more than I ever thought I would when I first came here," said Cox, who graduated last spring with a degree in business administration. "I made a lot of great friends and I've been a part of some great football teams. It's weird knowing it's coming to an end."
There's been one final challenge for Cox. Offensive coordinator Al Borges resigned after the season. Tony Franklin was hired as the new offensive coordinator on Dec. 12, and he has installed parts of his no-huddle spread offense during the bowl practice.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says the Tigers will use parts each offense in the bowl game, placing an unusually heavy burden on Cox.
"It's been different, for sure," Cox said, adding the new scheme "is a complete 180 of the offense we've been running."
"Practice has been a little longer," he said. "We're working on a lot of things."
Clemson's defense has watched game film of Auburn and Troy.
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said Friday he has seen enough of the Troy film to know it would be a challenge to pick up Franklin's offense in a few weeks.
"I just know from a teaching standpoint it's really an educational process on the front process," Bowden said, adding that in some no-huddle offenses only the skill players will look to the sideline for plays.
"Troy is different," Bowden said. "They all look over and get the call. I think if you want to initiate something like that in a short period of time it would be difficult."
Tuberville said the last seven or eight practices have "been interesting," making it obvious Auburn could not implement the full new offense.
"We're still going to run some things we ran from our previous offense," Tuberville said. "It's just hard to do that in a short period of time.
"I'm proud of the efforts from the players and coaches from the offensive side in what they've tried to do and how they've tried to put this offense together in such a short period."