AUBURN, Ala. — Sean White earned his first start last season against Mississippi State after a struggling beginning from Jeremy Johnson.
A year later, as a redshirt sophomore quarterback, White has developed as a passer and leader. He has asserted himself as the full-time No. 1 guy.
While he hasn’t shattered records, White has been a solid contributor. He has the best completion percentage in the SEC, at 68.4 percent. White’s 5-to-1 touchdown-to-turnover ration is bested in the conference only by Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and Arkansas’ Austin Allen.
As the season progresses, White’s game will continue to expand. He took some time this week to chat about the full-circle transition between Mississippi State in 2015 and Mississippi State in 2016. Here’s what White had to say:
Q: As a quarterback, how different are you for this start than you were a season ago against Mississippi State?
A: “I think I’m a lot different, obviously. I think there’s so much more experience under my belt, playing in a lot of SEC games, playing in a lot of games. I think that will help me as far as being more comfortable and going on the road in a tough environment and I think it will help me.”
Q: Since this is the first road game of the season, what did you learn last season that can help you?
A: “I think, you know, playing on the road is — I wouldn’t say fun — but I like the challenge of playing on the road. You go into another team’s environment. It’s a hostile environment. Every environment is in the SEC. It’s a challenge to go in there and play good and play well and steal a win in another team’s territory. And that’s a fun challenge for me.”
Q: Does the road environment create more motivation?
A: “Yeah, I mean, you love playing at home, too, in front of your fans. But yeah, it’s something that motivates you and everybody’s hating you and wants you to lose. It’s kind of like, you know, gets you motivated a little I guess you could say.”
Q: Do the cowbells cause problems?
A: “That was huge for us in the last few games with no penalties. That’s going to be a lot harder this weekend playing on the road. It’s much tougher, with pre-snap penalties especially, so we have to be disciplined and keep doing what we’re doing as far as not committing too many penalties.”
Q: What’s your overall assessment of your own play this season?
A: “Good. I mean, I think I’ve done some good things. I think there’s some things I could do better and work on. That’s going to be the focus this week in practice, to keep getting better. … It’s different things. I think one thing, I think I didn’t hit a couple deep balls I wanted to (last) weekend so that’s something that I’ll be working on this weekend. From the offseason, there’s some red-zone stuff. Always working on red-zone opportunities. Really everything as a whole. But yeah, of course you want to focus on certain things that you saw that you can do better.”
Q: Are you more confident now?
A: “Yeah, I think it’s definitely higher. I think that we know that if we play well and we know that if we play well we can put up points, and it’s up to us. We have to come to play and execute and play hard and we know that. So it’s good to know that we have the ability to and it’s just up to us to come to play.”
Q: What do you like so much about Rhett Lashlee? What was his recruitment of you like?
A: “He’s a confident coach. People made a big deal about him calling the plays and everything, but he’s confident. You don’t notice anything different when he’s coming around or in our quarterback meetings or anything like that. He’s always prepared super well. He’s always been a great coach, and I love playing for him … would say the same thing now. He’s a good person, a good coach, [has] a good family. You just know you can trust him, and he’s going to make me a better football player and person.”
Q: What’s the chemistry been like with the young receivers?
A: “Every practice is more reps, more repetitions – every practice, every game. So every day that goes by, that gets better and that’s a huge part to the success of a quarterback and his receivers is the chemistry. The more reps you get the better, and I think it will get better as the season goes on.”
Q: Is the offense about to turn a corner?
A: “I hope so. That’s what we hope for. And I think that’s definitely possible because all of the guys that are young and contributing are really hard workers. Nobody’s complacent. No freshman is like ‘Man, I’m making plays and I don’t need to go to practice.’ Everyone is coming to work and everyone is playing with a chip on their shoulder, and that’s the best thing to see. “