Tuscaloosa, Ala.--All season long I have been clamoring for Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee to let John Franklin throw the football in his limited opportunities to at least see what the junior college transfer could do.
Finally having no choice in the biggest game of the season, Auburn turned to Franklin in the second half of the Iron Bowl against No. 1 Alabama and he gave the Tigers a spark for the second time this season. The last opportunity Franklin had to play in a game similar to that was against Texas A&M when he came in late against the Aggies and gave the Tigers a lift with 75 yards on the ground.
On Saturday vs. the Tide, Franklin hit freshman Elijah Stove on two big pass plays that accounted for over half of the total yardage for the game. His ability to stretch the field vertically is something that has been missing since Sean White’s injury and the coaches have just flat out refused to give him a chance to show what he can do.
Completing 2-4 throws for 85 yards, Franklin's season totals stand at 11-19 for 179 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
Unfortunately for Auburn on Saturday the offensive coaches once again didn’t give this team a chance to win the game. Yes, Alabama’s defense is perhaps the most physical in the country, but not throwing on first down and throw the ball down the field once again had a crippling effect on the Tigers.
You can count the number of teams that have beaten Alabama in the last few seasons on one hand and something they had in common was an athletic quarterback and making big plays in the passing game.
With a defense that gave the Tigers a chance to win on Saturday, Auburn had the opportunity to use both in Franklin, but didn’t know and likely still don’t know what they have in the junior college transfer other than a guy who can really run.
To have those questions still unanswered is inexcusable at this juncture of the season, but it’s becoming a far too often occurrence for Malzahn and the Tigers.