Auburn, Ala.--After the practice in which Gus Malzahn named his starting quarterback for the 2016 football season opener vs. Clemson, Auburn's head coach said that redshirt sophomore Sean White will get all of the first team reps moving forward.
“I think it's important the last week when you are starting to get specific,”?he said.
“We rotated receivers, we rotated running backs, but now you are to the point where you're really getting specific with the same 11 guys," Malzahn said. I think that's very important for a quarterback to do and know exactly who he's throwing to and throw to the ones instead of sometimes throw to the twos, sometimes throw to the threes. There is a lot to be said for that.”
Asked about his decision to move White to the top of the depth chart, Malzahn said, “More than anything it's the progressions of understanding the offense. Any time you have experience in something you can go to your check downs or go to the other side of the field. It is probably just the overall experience factor of being in the situations, knowing what to expect and knowing what to do and what not to do.”
Commenting on the competition from juco transfer John Franklin, the coach said, “We tried to put those guys in as many game-like situations, different kind of situations, just trying to put them in situations we could evaluate them and give them a fair chance to compete. We feel like we did that and John did some very good things.”
Asked if last year’s opening game starter, Jeremy Johnson, could also see playing time, Malzahn said, “Right now we're just committed to Sean White being our quarterback and getting to play Clemson. That's what we're committed to right now.”
Kerryon Johnson, who is making a strong push for the starting tailback job, was enthusiastic about White being named the starter.
"I love Sean,” the sophomore said. “He's obviously a really nice guy and a really great friend, but I think Sean has a little mean streak to him. He's not going to back down from anybody.
“He's a spicy player and he loves competition,” Johnson added. “That's the thing that people get out of playing with him. They really get that attitude that you can really feed off of as a team."
The Tigers will have a 6 a.m. practice on Friday and be off until Sunday evening.
“Sunday night we'll turn the lights on and go to the stadium and try to get under the lights,” Malzahn said. “We'll be looking for people who are watching, too. I promise you that.”
Commenting on the QB competition, Malzahn said, "Like I've said all along, it was a very good race. All three guys competed at a very high level. I just felt like it was time to name a starter and Sean won the job. I think it'll be important that he'll have a good full week to work specifically, just with the ones.
"We really tried to do a good job of all three guys getting equal opportunities," Malzahn said. "Jeremy had a very good fall camp, very competitive. He's much improved. He's in a very good spot. John Franklin competed extremely hard, and like I've said before, he improved greatly from the spring. Of course, we expected him to.
"We have got three guys that can run our offense, but Sean White's the first one that will be out there. We're excited for Sean. He's earned it. He's a guy that has experience in our offense last year. He's a tough guy. He's in a good spot. He's in a good spot to lead this team. The team's going to rally around him so I'm excited for him."