AUBURN, Ala. — The offensive showcase many were hoping for didn’t come to fruition Saturday at Auburn’s A-Day scrimmage.
Instead, the defense stepped up and forced three-and-outs left and right, and John Franklin III failed to make a big move in the quarterback competition on a day in which Sean White appeared to be best quarterback on the field. But even White had struggles.
The offenses combined to score two touchdowns as the Blue team won 19-10. The first- and second-team units put up 374 yards of offense. The teams were a combined 1-for-22 on third-down conversions. Meanwhile, Daniel Carlson hit five field goals, including two 50-yarders.
Questions were unanswered entering this game and not much has changed entering the summer, especially on offense.
Here are some storylines from A-Day:
Nothing settled at quarterback
Auburn’s quarterbacks were incredibly inconsistent, and while they did calm down as the game continued, they were unable to make the big plays in the red zone, especially in the first half. Jeremy Johnson and White both fumbled inside or just outside the red zone to stall drives. Franklin III was ineffective — he missed Tony Stevens on a would-be touchdown — until he hit Marcus Davis on a 40-yard touchdown pass, which floated in the stiff wind and fell into the open arms of Davis, whose cover man (freshman Javaris Davis) was in bad position.
RELATED: When will QB battle end?
White may have been the most stable quarterback on the field (8 of 14 passing for 125 yards), but that doesn’t mean he’s won the job. This battle will rage through the summer, especially as coaches continue to hope Franklin III develops and challenges for the starting job when preseason camp arrives in August.
First-team defense could be brutally good
We know Auburn’s offense didn’t look great at times, but that had a lot to do with the first-team defense. Defensive end Carl Lawson and tackle Montravius Adams were especially good on back-to-back sacks. Lawson recorded a solo sack and then teamed up with Adams on the next play to sack White. The defensive line is by far the strength of the defense, and it showed Saturday. The big question is whether Auburn can build depth behind that defensive line, especially at linebacker.
Jovon Robinson is the best running back
We know Auburn’s coaching staff will stretch the running back “battle” into August and possibly into the season, but it seems clear that Robinson (10 carries, 83 yards) is the best tailback on the field. He has the explosiveness and the toughness to be an every-down back, and if rushing for 90 yards or more in five of the last six games last season wasn’t enough proof, he continued to show it Saturday in the scrimmage. Roc Thomas will be a nice change-of-pace ‘back, but he doesn’t look like a starter.
Identity on offense is a mess
White exited the scrimmage as the best quarterback in our eyes, but he still had a fumble and nearly threw an interception. As much as Auburn’s coaches say the identity of the offense doesn’t change with different quarterbacks on the field, it’s clear that is the case. Franklin III will be best utilized in a zone-read offense; White is at his best sitting in the pocket and delivering passes; Johnson is at his best in the pocket, but is too antsy when it appears pressure is on its way.
Could Woody Barrett get a realistic shot at the job when he arrives in August? Don’t count anything out at this point, especially with the offense’s struggles continuing at A-Day.
The offenses were halted by each unit’s defenses, and the first-team unit forced three straight three-and-outs to start the scrimmage. The highlights for the offense: a 50-yard pass from White to Marcus Davis and a 71-yard run by Chandler Cox. Both of those drives stalled thanks to fumbles by White and Johnson.
Blue: Carlson 25 field goal, 1:27
The offenses finally got something going, but they mostly stalled in the red zone once again. The big highlight was Franklin III’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Davis against the wind. Freshman Javaris Davis was in position but completely whiffed in coverage and Davis was able to run underneath the short pass for the easy touchdown. Meanwhile, Carlson continued to be the star of A-Day with four more field goals, including makes from 52 and 55 yards.
White: Carlson 33 field goal, 9:14
Blue: Carlson 25 field goal, 7:57
Blue: Carlson 52 field goal, :53
White: Davis 40 pass from Franklin III (Carlson kick), :14
Blue: Carlson 55 field goal, :00
Johnson threw his best pass in months with a strong eight-yard strike to Thomas to extend the Blue’s lead to 19-10 early in the third quarter. The second half mostly featured second- and third-teamers with a running clock, so trying to judge players was mostly a fruitless effort.
Blue: Thomas 8 pass from Johnson (Carlson kick), 9:27
Not much to write home about here with the running clock as Johnson nearly hit Darius Slayton for a long touchdown pass, but the ball hit the tip of his outstretched fingers for an incomplete pass.
Auburn will clean things up with a closed practice Tuesday at the Auburn Athletics Complex before the team starts voluntary workouts in the summer in preparation for the start of preseason camp in early August.