AUBURN, Ala. — Exactly one month passed between Sean White’s last attempt against Georgia and Auburn’s first Sugar Bowl practice last Monday.
White spent that month mostly resting his injured throwing shoulder. The sophomore starting quarterback missed the last two games of the season with injury, but Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said he’s good to go for the Sugar Bowl matchup against No. 7 Oklahoma on Jan. 2.
Malzahn said he is encouraged by how White is keeping up with the heavy workload in his return to the practice field.
“We’ve had one day off, and we’ve thrown a lot, and he’s been able to handle the ball,” Malzahn said. “I think that’s really good because there was a period of time he didn’t throw probably for about a month but just sporadically. So, getting his arm back in shape, it’s been really good.”
White’s teammates said the sophomore quarterback, who led the SEC in several major passing categories when healthy, is back to his old self on the field.
“He’s looked like the weeks before he got injured,” running back Kerryon Johnson said. “I mean, excellent throws, smart guy. Leadership has been on point as always. He really looks like the guy we really came into the season looking up to and who played through the majority of the season.”
White’s return coincides with a return to 100 percent for All-SEC running back Kamryn Pettway, who injured his quad in November.
With a healthy White and Pettway, Auburn averaged more than 38 points and 500 yards of offense per game during its six-game winning streak.
“It helps a lot because I think we were one of the top teams in the country when we had both of them,” center Austin Golson said. “Having those guys back brings a lot of juice and energy to the offense, and I think they’re going to be ready to go come game day.”
White came off the bench and played through an injury in a comeback win over Vanderbilt in early November, but he had a career-worst performance after aggravating the injury against Georgia.
After a month away from the action, White’s arm looks more like the one that led the Tigers into the Top 10.
“(White) looked good,” left guard Alex Kozan said last week. “Says he feels healthy, so I think he’s ready to go.”
White will head into what Malzahn called an “open” quarterback battle in the spring thanks to the arrival of former Baylor star Jarrett Stidham.
But Stidham, who arrived at practice Tuesday, obviously can’t play in New Orleans on Jan. 2. White will get the chance to prove he’s still a top option for the Auburn offense against a susceptible Oklahoma defense.
“I know it’s been good for him and his timing and really our overall offense,” Malzahn said Tuesday. “He threw the ball well again today, so his arm is starting to get in shape. (We) expect him to be 100 percent or really close to it by the time we play.”