Auburn, Ala. — A week from Thursday, SEC football will begin. Two days later, Auburn will host Clemson at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the season opener.
When coach Gus Malzahn last spoke, he indicated Auburn would begin turning its attention to Clemson with this week’s practices. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Tuesday the defense began game planning for SEC games well beyond that.
With the quarterback battle undecided prior to Malzahn’s Thursday press conference, Auburn’s coach meets with the media to discuss a range of topics. Follow along here:
- Sean White earns the starting job: “He won it.”
- Malzahn said there’s been more “intensity” with the new week of practice.
- Team gets Saturday off from practice for healing purposes.
- Malzahn said John Franklin III gave a solid run at the starting job.
- More position battles: Kevin Phillips will be the starting punter.
- Malzahn not yet willing to name a second- and third-team quarterbacks. White will be the only quarterback getting first-team snaps.
- Malzahn: White “has improved in all areas.” Talked about White’s ability to battle back from injuries. “It’s tough when you’re in a battle. It’s tough on all three of them. He battled really well.”
- Malzahn: “We expect him to run our offense. We have confidence in Sean. More importantly, his teammates have confidence in him.”
- Team’s “thoughts and prayers go out to” Jeremy Johnson who lost his grandfather in a car accident.
- Without going live, John Franklin III still “had his chances” in spring and fall to show what he’s capable of as a runner, Malzahn said.
- The long wait was a “testament to how good the battle was,” Malzahn said.
- Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee talk a lot “over the last 48 hours” and decided it was finally time to name a starter.
- Malzahn didn’t want to talk about Pat Dye’s assessment of last season’s coaching discord or the NCAA investigation involving Ole Miss and Auburn players.
- White: “It feels really good. I blessed to be in this position, and I feel responsible to lead this team against Clemson. I feel like my teammates believe in me, and I think they have reason to believe in me.”
- It’s a “night and day” difference for him between this season and last, White said.
- White credits Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III with pushing him and helping him learn to be better in certain areas. It “was an even race.”
- Said this year will be different preparing to be the starter rather than preparing in a backup capacity.
- White think he’s injury held him back on the ground last year. “I wouldn’t say I’m Nick Marshall,” White said. But he did say he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash in spring.
- Are you ready to be the face of the program? “Absolutely,” White said.