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Auburn Coach Rhett Lashlee Says The Quarterback Competition Is Still Taking Place

Rhett Lashlee talks about his quarterbacks as the Tigers prepare for their second preseason football scrimmage.

Sean White (above( is a redshirt sophomore for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Rhett Lashlee said following Thursday’s practice that the Auburn Tigers

still aren’t ready to name a starting signal caller and may not be after Saturday’s scrimmage. He said that Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin are “absolutely” still in the mix.

Commenting on why the Auburn staff is still in QB evaluation mode, Lashlee said, “Maybe it is because those guys are doing a good job and not making it easy. It doesn’t have to be something negative all the time.

“When you break camp and go to school next Tuesday it would be great to have things narrowed down or make that decision, but we're not going hurry up and make the wrong decision just to make it to say we have made it. If we are not making the decision it is because we have multiple guys doing a good job, I can tell you that. It's not because we have two or three guys who, 'Gosh, he can't get it done today. He can't get it done.' We have guys that are competing.”

Commenting on how the quarterbacks performed in scrimmage one, Lashlee said, “All three of them did a nice job at times. Jeremy hit a big home run post that got us down to the two on a scoring drive. Sean hit an explosive play and then made a great throw to Marcus (Davis) for a touchdown. John had a big pass to Jason (Smith) for a touchdown.

“All three of them did some good things. All three of them, obviously, missed some things. Overall, I would say they had a solid scrimmage and they are playing with a chip on their shoulder and they are competing well. By no means are we where we want to be in three weeks, but I would say if we don't make a decision we feel like they are making it tough on us.”

Photo by Jason Caldwell

John Franklin is a juco transfer in his first season with the Tigers.

Asked if the coaching staff may wait until opening night vs. Clemson before naming a starter, Lashlee said, “Yeah, it's always possible. I don't know if we have done that before. It is not ideal but if that is what is best for our team and those three guys, that’s what we'll do.”

Asked if the Tigers would use two quarterbacks, the offensive coordinator said, “It's always possible. It's not common ,but it's been done before. We'll just kind of see where it leads. They have got a chip on their shoulder. They know what is out there. They know the perception. All they can do is go to work and do something about it and not make it easy on us, and that's what they're doing.”

White finished the 2015 season as the starter after coming back from knee and ankle injuries. Asked if the coaches have a pecking order in their heads, Lashlee said, ““It’s human nature that in the back of our mind we have a perception of how things are progressing. At the same time, you may think you know something but you’ve seen some things each day that kind of lend you to say ‘hey, we need to just keep lending this thing out.’

“The hard thing is we got three guys so, for example, you got a 100-plus play scrimmage, but you got three guys and it’s about how many reps are the getting with the ones, with the twos and try to balance out the number of reps every single day in practice and bring in enough reps to make a proper decision. It’s hard if you’re rotating three. It’s different if it’s just two. That’s another thing where we’re like let’s take a little longer. We went live in the spring, we got all that information we need from a physical standpoint.”

Commenting on the three-man race to be the quarterback starter after scrimmage one, Lashlee said, “They all three did enough good things to say ‘hey, this guy deserves to keep competing for the job.’ We just came out and said we need to keep this thing going and now we’re in week two, at that point we were only five days in anyway so let’s get the reps are reoccurring and see who takes strides forward and who stays the same.”

In other news and notes:

*Coach Rodney Garner said in the spring he expected tackle Maurice Swain to be improved this fall. So far in preseason drills that has been the case, the defensive line coach noted. “He has come a long way,” Garner said. “This is his senior year. I?definitely hope he can play a good role for us. He is a very dependable guy. He knows what to do and he is going to give us everything he has. He is a team guy who is going to put Auburn first.”

*Another senior defensive tackle, Devaroe Lawrence, is also making progress. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said the senior is still working on consistency, but overall he looks ready to contribute.

*A freshman wide receiver who is having a good preseason camp is Elijah Stove from Niceville, Fla., High. The Under Armour All-American caught 33 passes for 501 yards and six touchdowns as a senior and gained 2,581 total yards receiving and rushing in three varsity seasons.

“He has impressed so far,” said Kodi Burns, Stove’s position coach. “He has done a good job of picking up the offense. He is smart, he is really quick and he can run.”

*Junior wide receiver Jason Smith is making progress, Burns said. “He has done a great job in fall camp so far. I have been really impressed with him. He has kind of changed his attitude. He has changed everything he is doing. He looks quicker and he understands the offense better.

“He is more comfortable in his role,” the receivers coach added. “I think he feels a sense of urgency of ‘hey, I want to be that big-play guy.’ Hopefully, we can bring him along and he can help us out.”

*Auburn’s annual Fan Day is set for 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Sunday at the football team’s indoor practice field. There is no admission charge to the event.

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