AUBURN, Ala. — Although his snaps have decreased since a fourth-quarter cameo against Texas A&M, John Franklin III isn’t out of the picture in Auburn’s first-choice offense.
The dual-threat JUCO transfer quarterback spent most of Auburn’s bye week repping as the first-team quarterback, according to his head coach Gus Malzahn.
“He’s had a good two weeks of practice,” Malzahn said Thursday night on his weekly Tiger Talk radio show. “You know, last week, we primarily worked him a lot with the ones, too.”
Auburn focused on resting several worn-down starters during the recent bye week, so Franklin’s additional reps as a first-teamer don’t come as a major surprise. However, they’re good signs for his progress in the Auburn offense.
Franklin officially recorded 3 carries for 14 yards in Auburn’s most recent win over Mississippi State, but he had a potential touchdown run called back for a holding call on sophomore tight end Jalen Harris.
A week earlier against Louisiana-Monroe, Franklin tossed his first career touchdown pass — a 39-yard dime to true freshman Nate Craig-Myers — and broke an 80-yard touchdown run. Franklin is averaging 11.42 yards per carry this season for the Tigers.
“He’s getting better, there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said. “He presents a different challenge for the defense when he gets in there.”
Franklin transferred into Auburn from East Mississippi Community College earlier this year to compete for the starting quarterback job. He was named the primary backup behind Sean White following Auburn’s season-opening loss to Clemson.
Malzahn has stressed throughout the first half of the season that Franklin has practiced as a true backup that can run the entire offense instead of just a running threat in certain packages.
Will those reps with the first-team offense in the bye week lead to more snaps in Auburn’s upcoming matchup against Arkansas this Saturday? Malzahn won’t say for sure, but he didn’t rule it out.
“Well, I don’t want to give up our game plan,” Malzahn said. “But like I said before, he’s going to be ready … You could see his role grow this second half of the season.”