Questions For Auburn At QB Heading Into Iron Bowl

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee talks injuries for the Tigers heading into the Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--For the Auburn Tigers this week’s Iron Bowl prep on offense will once again be one of question marks with the quarterback and running back positions both still very much up in the air, Coach Rhett Lashlee said on Sunday night.

Starting Jeremy Johnson in Saturday’s win over Alabama A&M and with John Franklin getting the second reps, Lashlee said he felt like both guys played well in the easy victory. If starter Sean White can’t go or isn’t 100 percent, he said they’re not sure which direction they would go if that was the case.

“We felt like Jeremy had prepared well and it being Senior Day, he earned the opportunity to start,” Lashlee said. “Take two plays away, I thought he played really well. John obviously has been repping in the backup spot all year.

“You haven’t seen him throw it as much. He’s such a good guy running the football; it eliminates some of those things. I’ve got confidence in him to do that. And then we’ll just see where Sean is. I don’t want to give you something that’s not accurate or concrete.”

Seeing where Sean is something that Lashlee said will happen this week in practice. With classes off this week for Thanksgiving the players will be able to focus on football and getting well following a physical season, he said they’ll evaluate the sophomore to see where he is.

"You want to know, can he play and play at a high level,” Lashlee asked. “It's one thing to say can he throw the ball? Can he play at a level that he needs to play at to be at his best? The second things is can he protect himself? We're going to make the best decision for him first of all health wise and for our team.

“The truth is what our doctors tell us is it's day-to-day with what our doctors tell us on a lot of our guys unfortunately, as many guys as we had out last night. We don't practice until Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday so in that window is when we'll have to know who is available and what capacity they'll be available at."

Getting White back and capable of making plays would be important considering the season he's had to this point. Completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,644 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions, White's play has been a steadying influence for the Tigers' offense.

The injury questions trickle down to running back where leading rusher Kamryn Pettway (1,106 yards) and Stanton Truitt both missed the Alabama A&M game with injuries as did fullback Chandler Cox. Lashlee said getting them back would be a big boost for the offense, but much like White it’s wait and see.

"I think with all of those we're optimistic that a lot of the guys that didn't get to play (Saturday) will be back,” he said. “Until we get on the practice field tomorrow and Tuesday, yeah the trainers are telling us what they do with them but until we can see them do football moves and football moves, it's hard to know.

“It's a fine thing because you got to know how healthy they are but if they aren't healthy if they can be rested to get them full strength. A game like this tends to heal guys up real quick."

A huge positive for the Auburn offense was the play of Kerryon Johnson. Rushing for 108 yards against Alabama A&M to move to 823 yards with 11 touchdowns on the season, the sophomore from Madison looks to be closer to form following an ankle injury.

Preparing to face a very stingy Alabama defense, Lashlee said having Johnson back close to full speed is definitely a step in the right direction.

"Kerryon was the first to tell me 'hey I'm about 90-95 percent, I'm feeling a lot better now' and it's because he wanted to play,” Lashlee said. “There was couple of times he wasn't full go because like that third down play, he probably would've scored if he was fully healthy but I think he's any worse for playing. So I feel good knowing we'll have him."

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