AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn’t get any time to make an opening statement about the Tigers’ 55-0 win against Alabama A&M. His Sunday press conference cut right to the biggest question on the Plains this week — who will Auburn start at quarterback in the Iron Bowl?
At this point, Lashlee said he doesn’t even know.
“We’ll see probably more tonight and tomorrow maybe where (starting quarterback Sean White) is in the process and try to make a call at least on our end earlier in the week so we can prepare the way we need to,” Lashlee said. “But I wouldn’t rule any of them out right now.”
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White sat out Auburn’s win over Alabama A&M on Saturday night with a shoulder injury that worsened in a 13-7 loss to Georgia in the previous week. The sophomore led the SEC in passer rating, completion percentage and yards per attempt before the dreadful, injury-influenced performance in Athens.
Auburn started senior quarterback Jeremy Johnson in his place Saturday night. Johnson scored three touchdowns — one passing and two rushing — in a little more than two quarters of work. The former starting quarterback spent most of the season as a third-stringer but put together a strong performance against the FCS foe in his final home game.
White’s normal backup, John Franklin III, came into the game in the third quarter but never attempted a pass. Franklin recorded 4 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought Jeremy and John both did a good job last evening for us, which was good, they’d been repping in practice the last couple of weeks when Sean hasn’t been practicing,” Lashlee said.
White hasn’t thrown a pass in practice in three weeks. He suffered a shoulder injury in the second half of a road win against Ole Miss. The injury caused him to miss the first half of a Week 9 matchup against Vanderbilt, but he came off the bench to lead the Tigers to a comeback win.
Lashlee wants to see two key things from his starting quarterback in practice for the trip to No. 1 Alabama.
“Can he play and play at a high level?” Lashlee said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘OK, he can throw the ball.’ But can he play at a level we need him to be able to play at and that he needs to be able to play at to be at his best. I think the second thing is he’s got to be able to protect himself.”
Lashlee said Auburn gave Johnson the start over Franklin on Saturday night because it was Senior Day. But if White can’t go for the Iron Bowl, he has faith in Franklin to lead the offense into Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“We felt like Jeremy had prepared well and, being senior day, had earned the opportunity to start,” Lashlee said. “John has obviously been repping in the backup spot all year. Yeah, you haven’t seen him throw it as much. Sometimes that because he’s such a good guy running the football that it eliminates some of those things.
“We’ve got confidence in him to do that, and then we’ll just see where Sean is.”