AUBURN, Ala. — Sean White was elevated to starter unexpectedly last season, but he still feels like he has a chip on his shoulder.
The belief is a cliche, sure, but the Auburn quarterback is being overlooked by many as newcomer John Franklin III fires up enthusiasm and rekindles hope among the fan base. But it’s White, the rising sophomore, who proved to be the most consistent quarterback this spring.
“I feel like it’s my job to lose,” White said. “Coach hasn’t said that but that’s the attitude you have to have. Going in, I feel like it’s my job to lose so I’ve just got to bring it every day.”
White threw for 125 yards on 8 of 14 passing in the A-Day game last week, the Tigers’ capper to the spring. He threw several beautiful passes, including a 50-yarder to Marcus Davis in the middle of the field and a 20-yarder over the shoulder of running back C.J. Tolbert along the sideline. He looked calmer than the other quarterbacks on the field, and whether it was because the offense seemed to click more with holding the reins with the starters, the tempo was more like the hurry-up, no-huddle pace Auburn was desperately missing last season.
White was thrown into action four games into the 2015 season after Jeremy Johnson threw six interceptions in the first three games. White completed 58 percent of his passes in seven games, including six starts, and led the team with 1,166 yards. The problem? He threw one touchdown pass, nine less than Johnson, who threw only 14 more passes than the redshirt freshman all season.
White battled injury for most of the last half of the season and it slowed him in several games. He was injured during a heartbreaking overtime loss at Arkansas in October.
With a year under his belt, he feels he’s ready to keep the starting job.
“I’ve got to go out there and prove I’m the best guy for the job,” White said. “That’s my job to do, so I’ll just try to keep proving that to them.”
Why he should be the starter
The offense looked to be at its best with White at the helm during the A-Day game. It wasn’t necessarily a stellar performance, but at least he read his progressions and hit some big passes. He was also capable of running the offense at a quicker pace than we saw last season, which is a plus in his column.
“He’s a guy who is going to know where to go with the football,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said.
In the end, with Johnson and Franklin III misfiring, consistency may just be what leads to coaches sticking with White and handing him the starting job in 2016.
Why he shouldn’t be the starter
For whatever reason, White just can’t score touchdowns. He threw one touchdown against four interceptions last season and was again held without a touchdown in the A-Day game.
Moments after throwing a beautiful 50-yard pass to Marcus Davis and an eight-yard strike to Ryan Davis to place the offense at the 10-yard line, he fumbled a snap and gave the ball away on the second possession of the scrimmage.
“That is really the big negative for me,” coach Gus Malzahn said. “Our quarterbacks that have had the reps put the ball on the ground, I believe twice on the zone read. That was probably the biggest negative from an offensive standpoint all day.”
White is certainly athletic and showed he can scramble for big gains in the win at Kentucky and loss at Arkansas last season, but he’s not going to be the player defenses respect on every zone-read play.
“Sean, obviously, brings his toughness and his grit. He’s a guy that sees the field and makes good decisions. He’s a guy who is going to know where to go with the football. I know his teammates believe in him from that standpoint. He’s proven that in games.”
— Rhett Lashlee, offensive coordinator
- Why Jeremy Johnson should be Auburn’s starting quarterback
- Why John Franklin III should be Auburn’s starting quarterback