Auburn, Ala.--This season when the Auburn Tigers were playing their best football they had Sean White running the show at quarterback, Kamryn Pettway bruising people on the ground and Kerryon Johnson mixing with Pettway providing a chance of pace in the backfield.
For the first time since the Mississippi State game on Oct. 8, Coach Gus Malzahn believes the trio is close to 100 percent once again.
Completing 65.2 percent of his passes this season for 1,644 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions, White was playing at a high level until injuring his shoulder against Ole Miss. From that time forward the Auburn offense was a shell of the one the Tigers put on the field during the six-game winning streak.
After sitting out of practices for the last month of the season, White is back practicing and Malzahn said he looks good to go.
“"Sean, he practiced the whole time,” Malzahn said. “Looked to me like he's 100 percent. He's ready to go and did everything the other quarterbacks did and didn't miss a beat while doing it."
Just as important is having a healthy Kamryn Pettway for the offense. Rushing for 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns in just nine games, the redshirt sophomore missed games against Georgia and Alabama A&M and played at less than 100 percent in the Iron Bowl.
After time off to rest, Pettway also looks ready to go said Malzahn.
"Kam looked good,” he said. “He went through practice. He did everything. All of our guys that were out there, they did everything in the 12 periods that we did without any kind of limitations. So I thought that was good."
The return of Pettway on the practice field came the same week that he announced his plans to return for his junior year with the Tigers. A key component for the offense, Pettway brings a physicality that Malzahn said gives him a chance to build onto what he accomplished in 2016.
“I think it's really good,” Malzahn said of Pettway’s return. “Any time a key piece of your offense makes that call, he'll help have a chance next year. Obviously staying healthy there's a chance he'll have a super season. He'll be one of leaders coming back. I think it's a very good thing for us next year.”
With almost three weeks to prepare for 10-2 Oklahoma, Auburn is in much better shape offensively than the team that struggled late in the season and having White, Pettway and Johnson back on the field together is a big reason for optimism for the Tigers.
"I think that's very important,” Malzahn said. “We were playing very good football when we were healthy and in a rhythm. It's good to have everybody back. Kerryon being back and he looked very good today. There was no hitch or limp or anything. We're going to be smart with those guys but I think there's a good chance that all of the guys out there are going to be close to 100 percent."
Auburn will practice on campus through Dec. 22 before breaking for Christmas. They will report to New Orleans on Dec. 27 and resume practices the following day for the Sugar Bowl.