Auburn, Ala.--Auburn sophomore quarterback Sean White is completing 68 percent of his passes this season, good enough for 10th in the country and ahead of names like Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma, Brad Kaaya from Miami and Chad Kelly from Ole Miss.
Delve a little deeper and you see just how good White has been since taking over the job full-time in the second game of the season. Completing just 10-21 throws against Clemson for 140 yards and one interception when he was one of three quarterbacks rotating throughout the game, he has been on a tear since then.
In the last four games White has completed 68-93 passes for 843 yards (73.1 percent) and five touchdowns with no interceptions. Settling in and playing well, White noted that for him just getting more comfortable has been huge for his development and has allowed the team to take more and more shots down the field.
“That’s important,” the redshirt sophomore said. “I think stretching the field vertically is something you have to do as an offense because you have to make the defense respect that. I think we did a pretty good job of it (against ULM).”
It wasn’t a perfect game for the quarterback, however, according Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee and that is something that the Tigers continue to work on this week. Missing a few throws down the field and missing a blitzing safety, White is progressing week by week, said Lashlee. That is the goal as Whites gets ready to head back on the road for the first time as a starter since playing Arkansas a season ago.
“I think you can see he’s comfortable,” Lashlee said. “I think you can see he’s playing well, but he can play better. He’s playing well and he’s giving us a chance to win each week. Obviously, it was his first start and I thought he handled himself well last year, but we obviously didn’t get the win. That’s something he remembers.
“A year later he’s been on the road and won before on the road. He’s played well on the road at Kentucky and Arkansas. It’s a tough environment there with those cowbells and everything, but you’ve got to hope he’s, I think he’s very calm and relaxed now and confident whereas I felt like he played hard last year and he wasn’t scared of anything, but naturally it was all brand new.”
John Franklin ran for a touchdown and threw for one on Homecoming.
With White playing very well it has limited the touches for No. 2 quarterback John Franklin, but it hasn’t limited his effectiveness when in the game. On Saturday he had an 80-yard touchdown run and threw a 39-yard strike to Nate Craig for his first touchdown pass of the year.
Rushing for 202 yards on just 16 carries (12.7 yards per attempt) and completing 6-10 passes for 73 yards, Franklin has progressed from game one and he said just getting a chance is the most important thing for him.
“I love playing,” the juco transfer said. “Playing is the best motivator for me. I love playing in front of people and love to perform. I feel like the more and more opportunities I get the more I’m going to do positive things with it.”
Staying on the ready for his opportunity if and when the time comes, Franklin said all he can do is continue to work and wait for his chance to help the Tigers to a victory.
“I’m just trying to make it every day--just get better as a quarterback and as a person," Franklin said. "I feel like I have a role on this team and a plan. Coach Malzahn and God have a plan for me and I’m just going with the flow. I’m not stressing or thinking forward to the future, it’s just one day at a time right now.”
Lashlee didn’t rule out the possibility that getting Franklin involved somewhere other than quarterback could be in the plans, but right now he remains Auburn’s second quarterback. As for getting him involved and mixing in with White, Lashlee said that’s still an option as well.
“That’s stuff we’ll continue to look at,” the coordinator/quarterback coach said. “I feel like he’s getting better each week. That’s the challenge, you don’t want to disrupt the rhythm of your offense and get into a quarterback shuffle and we’re not going to do that. But, John is an explosive player for us. We’ll just kind of take that week to week and see what we can do there.”