|Auburn's Arkansas natives making big impact|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 12 October 2007 02:17|
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -It's another first-time experience for No. 22 Auburn's Lee Ziemba and Kodi Burns in a season full of them.|
The two freshmen already have their first college starts and first road trip. Now, Ziemba and Burns get to play against their home state team for the first time when the 22nd-ranked Tigers visit Arkansas on Saturday night.
``Me and Ziemba have been talking about this for a long time, just being able to go back to our home state and then to beat them would be like a dream come true,'' said Burns, the Tigers' role-playing quarterback.
``What we talked about came true. We really just can't wait to play them.''
The two highly touted freshmen haven't had to do much waiting so far in their college careers.
Ziemba has started every game this season at right tackle since arriving from Rogers, Ark., protecting the blind side of left-handed quarterback Brandon Cox.
Burns, who is from Fort Smith, became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Tigers (4-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) since Gabe Gross in 1998 when Burns got the call against New Mexico State. He has since settled into his role as a change-of-pace to Cox, mostly lining up in the shotgun and running or pitching to the tailbacks on option plays.
Both were recruited by the Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2).
The prospect of returning home struck Ziemba when he watched tape of the Razorbacks' game against Chattanooga at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, where he played in the state championship game.
``It brought back neat memories,'' the 6-foot-8, 297-pounder said. ``I'm just excited about it.''
And confident, too, since the Tigers have won three straight games.
``We need to go out there and start fast like we have been, finish strong and I think we'll take care of them,'' Ziemba said.
He estimates he has attended 15-20 Arkansas games. Burns has only been to two, once as a youngster and a second time when he was being recruited last season.
Burns grew up rooting for Florida State more than the Razorbacks, who play about 45 minutes from Fort Smith.
``I liked Arkansas, but I didn't grow up as a big-time Arkansas fan,'' he said.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said he thinks his freshmen will be able to handle the emotions of playing near their hometowns in front of big groups of family and friends.
``Both of these guys have shown a lot of poise since they've been with us,'' said Tuberville, also an Arkansas native. ``We've only had one road trip and that was a big one to Florida. Both of them played pretty well there.''
Burns' role has been almost entirely as a runner the past two weeks, when he has carried the ball six times and attempted only one pass, an incompletion.
But he thinks there's a reason offensive coordinator Al Borges has been keeping his play selection limited, even predictable.
``What he has me doing is for a reason to set up other things,'' Burns said. ``When it seems like it's Kodi left or Kodi right or Kodi up the middle, it's not a problem at all.
``You never question the person that's in authority over you. That's when you have turmoil. I just go out there and try to run the play that he calls to my best ability.''
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Burns is Auburn's ``knuckleball, change up'' quarterback to complement the dropback passer in Cox.
``They're going to lean more on the run with him, instead of the pass,'' Nutt said.
Burns doesn't think he'll get too keyed up for the game despite the circumstances.
``When it boils down to it, I could have gotten overly excited in the Florida game or any game just like that,'' he said. ``It's an emotion-based game, but you've still got to stick to the fundamentals in how you play the game.
``I think emotions will play a factor but with preparation and practice, that shouldn't be a problem.''
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