LAGRANGE, Georgia — Gus Malzahn doesn’t like to wait when identifying a starting quarterback on his Auburn roster.
Eighteen days is all he needed to name Nick Marshall the starter in August 2013. He needed two days after spring practices to decide to give Jeremy Johnson the reins in 2015.
He suspects a starter will be named quickly, again, when the Tigers open pre-season camp in August.
“I feel very good about the three guys that we have and they’re set to compete in fall camp and I’m hoping that we can name one of those guys the starter early in fall camp rather than later in fall camp, so they can actually get the reps with the [first team] and all that,” Malzahn said Wednesday. “I think we’re in a good spot quarterback-wise.”
The competition among Johnson, Sean White and newcomer John Franklin III raged through spring camp without a clear-cut favorite, though all three said they believe they have what it takes to lead the Tigers’ offense, which struggled with Johnson and White at the controls in 2015 (11 touchdowns, 11 interceptions).
Franklin III is the new face in the crowd and, like Marshall, provides hope the Tigers’ offense can move forward with a dual-threat runner in the backfield. Malzahn isn’t quite yet ready to name him the favorite, however.
Marshall needed only 18 days — and one live scrimmage — to convince coaches he was the starting quarterback in 2013. Malzahn doesn’t believe they will need to throw the quarterbacks into the fire against Auburn’s defense in August like they did with Marshall.
Still, there’s one quarterback Malzahn didn’t mention by name: incoming freshman Woody Barrett. He’s expected to reach campus in late May and will be provided a shot at winning the starting job, Malzahn said in the spring.
“We’re hoping we don’t have to go live, we did that in the spring twice,” Malzahn said. “We’re hoping we don’t have to do that. We will if we have to, but we’re hoping somebody will separate themselves early rather than later so they can start working the ones. That’s our goal.”