Photo by Jason Caldwell

No. 1 QB Still A Question Following A-Day Dominated By Defense

The Blue squad, featuring the No. 1 defense, took a 19-10 victory in Auburn's A-Day contest that featured a lot of good plays from the defense.

Rudy Ford tackles Roc Thomas in Saturday's A-Day Game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--If Gus Malzahn is any closer to making his choice on a starting quarterback for the 2016 season he wasn’t giving any clues about that following his team’s A-Day spring football scrimmage in which the defense out-performed the offense most of the contest.

Auburn's head coach danced around the question when asked several times for a clue on who will go into the season opener as Auburn's No. 1 quarterback after Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin shared reps with the first and second units on Saturday.

Asked if he knows who is the leader at quarterback, Malzahn said, “Not at this time. I will get with Rhett (Lashlee) and the offensive staff and we will decide. We do have depth at that position and it is a good thing.” Lashlee is the quarterback coach in addition to the role as offensive coordinator.

The Blue squad, which opened the game featuring the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense, outscored the White team 19-10 in a contest that ended with just two touchdowns being scored.

Most of the action with the front-line players took place in the first two quarters that were played with regulation 15-minute periods. The second half didn’t last long with just 33 plays compared to 67 before intermission.

Last year’s starting QB to finish the season, Sean White, hit 8-14 passes for 125 yards without a touchdown or interception. After the scrimmage the redshirt sophomore said he is taking the approach that he is the No. 1 guy at the position although the coaches haven’t told any of the QBs what the pecking order is.

Last year’s starter to open the season, Jeremy Johnson, was 6-13 passing for 35 yards and one touchdown. Johnson said he is committed to continuing to battle for the starting spot as long as it is open and will keep competing even if he isn’t the starter for the opener vs. Clemson. He said he is not interested in transferring to another college to try to play more elsewhere.

Newcomer John Franklin hit 7-11 passes for 61 yards and one score. After the scrimmage the junior college transfer said he wished he could have been “live” to better show off his running skills.

“I loved the energy of our team,” Malzahn said. “I thought guys were playing hard and flying around. I thought our defense was outstanding. I think one thing really stands is the depth. I think we have got more depth, which is great.”

The first half began as a defensive struggle with eight possessions before there were any points. Those came on the first of five first half field goals from Daniel Carlson, who was on target on all of his attempts coming from 25, 33, 25, 52 and 55 yards on the final play before intermission on a windy day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The only touchdown of the half was a heave-and-hope throw from Franklin to Marcus Davis for a 40-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left in the half. Cornerback Javaris Davis got turned around on the play, allowing Marcus Davis to haul in the high pass from Franklin, who was avoiding the pass rush while launching the pass. Davis said the pass was in a perfect place for him to make the catch and after that he had a short stroll into the north end zone.

Throwing all of his first half passes for the second offense vs. the first defense, Franklin was 6-6 for 61 yards while White was 4-6 for 52 yards. White completed 3-5 passes for 72 yards in the opening half for the first offense vs. the No. 2 defense while Jeremy Johnson was 1-4 passing for one yard for the one offense prior to halftime.

Jovon Robinson ran for 83 first half yards on 10 carries for the first offense while Chandler Cox had two carries for 72 yards, Jason Smith had one for 12 yards and Kamryn Pettway two carries for 11 yards.

Walk-on C.J. Tolbert ran for 29 yards on 11 carries for the two offense in the first half while Malik Miller had 11 yards on three carries, Roc Thomas rushed for seven yards on three carries and Franklin no yards on two runs. Tolbert caught two passes for 42 yards in the half.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Junior running back Roc Thomas catches a pass for a touchdown.

The only score of the second half came early in the third period when Roc Thomas, who was lined up as a slot receiver on the play, caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to put the Blue on top 19-10.

Backups, including the walk-ons, saw much of the action on a windy day at Jordan-Hare Stadium as a crowd of 45,723 watched the action.

Daniel Carlson, who was 5-5 on field goals, was the special teams MVP.

Carl Lawson, who made four tackles with two for loss and one sack, was the defensive MVP despite watching much of the scrimmage from the sideline, including the entire second half.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Jovon Robinson (29) said he was pleased with his performance in the A-Day game.

Daniel Carlson, who was 5-5 on field goals, was the special teams MVP.

Marcus Davis and Jovon Robinson shared the offensive MVP award. Davis caught three passes for 88 yards while Robinson’s 10 first half carries were his only runs.

Stat of the Scrimmage: The Blue team, which featured the No. 1 defense for much of the scrimmage, did not allow a third down conversion on 12 tries. The White defense was almost as stingy, allowing just 1-10 third down conversions.

Top Tacklers: Linebackers Tre Williams and Darrell Williams each made six solo stops for the Blue team. Another linebacker, Deshaun Davis, led the White squad with four solo tackles and one assist while adding four solos for the Blue squad, making him the overall top tackler with eight solos and one assist.

A-Day Disappointment: Malzahn said a pair of fumbles, one each by quarterbacks Johnson and White on exchanges, was his biggest disappointment during the scrimmage for the offense.

A-Day Positive: The head coach said the Tigers got through the spring game without any serious injuries. Sophomore cornerback Carlton Davis, a returning starter, was held out of the session due to a hand injury suffered earlier in the week.

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