ATLANTA — Gus Malzahn does not foresee Auburn launching a two-quarterback system in the fall.
Three quarterbacks are vying for the starting job and he sees only one possible ending on the horizon as the Tigers near their season opener against Clemson: one man running the show at quarterback.
“We really want to have a starter,” Malzahn said Tuesday at the College Football Hall of Fame, emphasizing the singularity of the position. “We’ll have ways (to figure it out). We’ll put our guys in situations for them to step up. If you remember Nick Marshall a few years ago, it was pretty equal for the first two or three weeks and then we decided to go live one time and then he won the job that day. Now, hopefully we won’t have to get to a point where we have our quarterbacks go live in fall camp — that’s not the plan — but we’ll make sure that when we evaluate, the best guy that gives us the best chance to win will be our starter.”
Veterans Jeremy Johnson and Sean White were joined by newcomer John Franklin III in the spring battle. Johnson and White flip-flopped as the starter last season, combining to throw 11 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Neither quarterback was impressive, leading to an open competition in the spring and coaches bringing in Franklin III, a dual-threat quarterback transfer from East Mississippi Community College.
Franklin III previously played at Florida State, where he mimicked Marshall during the Seminoles’ preparations in 2013 for Auburn in the BCS National Championship. He is the fastest quarterback on the roster — and also the smallest — and excelled as a quarterback in a two-man system last season at EMCC.
But Malzahn doesn’t appear to be open to the idea of a two-quarterback show in his fourth season as the Tigers’ coach.
“He is a talented young man, he’s very fast and he wants to be good,” Malzahn said of Franklin. “I think that’s important. He’s still learning the offense but the fact that he’s very coachable, wants to be good, he’s right in the middle of the thing right now.”
Incoming freshman Woody Barrett, who is expected to be on campus in late May or June, will also get a shot at the starting job, though it appears the battle will ultimately come down to the three-man pack Malzahn coached in the spring.