Jason Caldwell

Mum's The Word On AU's Quarterback Starter For This Week's Game at Kentucky

Sean White has not exactly received a vote of confidence that he will remain in his role as Auburn's starting quarterback as the Tigers put in the game plan for Kentucky.

Sean White (above) has two starts as Auburn's quarterback.

Auburn, Ala.--Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee is not saying who will be Auburn's starting quarterback for Thursday night’s SEC football contest at Kentucky.

Junior Jeremy Johnson started the first three games and struggled. Redshirt freshman Sean White started the last two contests, including Auburn’s 35-21 Homecoming contest a week ago last Saturday.

“Both guys are still competing, they did it last week, and they did it again,” Lashlee said after Sunday evening’s full pads practice. “We had good urgency there.”

Asked when a decision will be made on the starter, Lashlee said that will be up to the head coach, Gus Malzahn. “I don’t know yet so like I said those guys are competing well,” said Lashlee, who is also the position coach for the quarterbacks. “Coach will make that call when it’s time.”

Commenting on Johnson, the player who was expected to be one of the top signal callers in the SEC this year, Lashlee noted that the junior has looked good in practice, but added what is important is how he performs in game situations. "Practice is practice," the offensive coordinator said. "We've got to start making plays on Saturdays as a group.”

Asked if Johnson can be the player the coaches were expecting him to be, Lashlee said, “I would like to think so. It’s like anything else in life, you can have a bad day. He would be the first to tell you that LSU wasn’t his best day. It wasn’t, but you would like to think when a guy responds, wants to keep fighting and competing like he has...he hasn’t laid it down. I think that’s the first sign there is an opportunity for him to regain confidence, and hopefully, perform at the level he is capable of playing at.”

Commenting on how White has been performing in practice, the coach said, “Good. I think competition at any position is healthy so it’s good for those guys to have to have that urgency each day to bring their best. I think it will make both of them better, regardless of what we do.

“The best thing about those two guys, and I’ve been fortunate since I’ve been here--it was the same way with Nick (Marshall) and Jeremy--they get along great. They are good buddies. They still room together, not only for them, but for our team. Stuff like that is rare. Those guys are pulling for each other. It’s been a big plus for me, my guys in the room and really for our team.”

Jason Caldwell

Jeremy Johnson lost his starting spot after a poor performance at LSU.

Asked what will be the factor on deciding who will start at quarterback, Lashlee said, “It’s going to be more on who gives us the best chance to win and who is going to do what they are coached to do.

“Now protecting the football is a big thing for us. Not only as an quarterback but as an offense. I believe in both of those guys. I really do.

“We haven’t played very good,” the offensive coordinator added. “We haven’t been good overall. I haven’t given up on them because I know what they got in them and I like the way they have approached practice lately, and competing and preparing. All you can do is keep working, keep pushing through and make something happen.”

Will Muschamp, Auburn’s defensive coordinator, called the Sunday practice a “good”?one for his group. “The guys came in and worked hard. Any time as a coach you aree always nervous when the schedule changes a little bit on how they’re going to respond. They responded well, had a good day today.

“Kentucky’s got a good football team,” Muschamp said. “Patrick Towles is playing at a very high level. Last year we played him when I was at Florida and really made four or five throws in the game when we had tight coverage and really dropped the ball in there.

“I think, again, he’s a guy that throws the vertical ball very well. I think that the receiving corps, as I said last week, is very good. That is where they’ve really made a difference in their roster, in my opinion, their skill (guys) and their running backs. Those guys are really good football players, they are bounce-out runners. They are guys that can take it the distance at any time and create some tempo issues for you in getting to the line, they’re covering down, they’re physical in the perimeter and they block well. We’ll have our work cut out for us on Thursday night in Lexington.”

In other news and notes:

*Muschamp said that sophomore linebacker Tre Williams, who sat out the Homecoming game with a knee problem, will be ready for action this week and the same is the case with freshman safety/nickel Tim Irvin.

*Kickoff for Thursday’s game is shortly after 6 p.m. CDT at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. The game will be televised on ESPN.

*Auburn’s all-time record in Thursday games is 21 wins, 25 losses and four ties. Auburn won its last Thursday night game taking a 20-14 decision at Kansas State last year. Dating back to 1994 the Tigers have a record of 7-2 in Thursday night games televised on ESPN.

*Kentucky, which was also off on Saturday, will bring a 4-1 record into this week’s matchup. The Wildcats are 2-1 in SEC play with their loss a 14-9 home setback to unbeaten Florida. Auburn, which is 3-2, is 0-2 in league play.

*This week’s matchup will be the first time the Tigers and Wildcats have met since a 2010 game at Lexington when Kentucky rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game at 34-34 in the fourth quarter. Auburn won the game with a drive that covered 19 plays, the second most plays in a scoring possession in Auburn history. Wes Byrum’s 24-yard field goal on the final play of the game won it for the visitors.

*Overall, Auburn leads the series vs. UK 25-6-1 and has a 12-4 record in games played at Lexington.

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