Hoover, Ala.--With the Auburn Tigers opening preseason practices on Aug. 3, Coach Gus Malzahn still has a plan to name his starting quarterback as early as possible as they prepare to face Clemson in the season opener on Sept. 3 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
With Jeremy Johnson and Sean White both back after starting games a season ago and junior college transfer John Franklin inserting himself into the race in the spring, Malzahn said he envisions a three-man race when they start practice even with the addition of talented true freshman Woody Barrett.
“I think every player has a shot, but realistic right now the older guys are going to be ahead because of the fact that he just showed up two weeks ago,” Malzahn said. “We’re going to focus on those three guys trying to win the position and we’ll bring Woody along. That’s not saying he won’t play this year, but that’s just really where we’re at.”
While Johnson, White and Franklin got a chance to show what they could do in the spring, the 6-2, 238 Barrett must make a big impression very early in fall camp if he hopes to make some noise said Malzahn.
“He just got here a couple of weeks ago, but he’s a guy we think is extremely talented that we recruited,” Malzahn said. “Really, starting out fall camp we’re going to be focusing on the older guys a little bit more than him, but we will bring him along. We think he’s a talented young man that fits our offense very good.”
Naming the quarterback is just part of the equation on offense for Auburn, something that Malzahn said has him taking a closer look at things on that side of the ball. That means taking on a bigger role on that side of the ball once again in the day-to-day workings on offense. In the end however the quarterback position is a big key to running Malzahn’s system and he said there are three guys he’s confident in and now it’s just a matter of finding the right guy.
“Obviously, earlier better than later, but we’re going to make 100 percent sure who gives us the best chance of winning,” Malzahn said. “I do feel like all three guys can run our offense. I think that’s very important as far as that goes. The good thing is we’ve got three guys. The challenge we’ve got to do is figure out who the main guy is that’s going to lead our team.
“We’ve got a good plan going into fall camp of trying to accelerate that and see who comes to the top. I’ve got a very open mind about that. I don’t have a whole lot of preconceived ideas as far as who is going to be our starter. We’re going to open it up like we did in 2013.”