AUBURN, Ala. — The timeline for Auburn to name a starting quarterback is fluid and, at times, a complete mystery.
The three-man battle among Sean White, John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson has not yet been settled after an A-Day scrimmage that included some big plays — and also some bad decisions.
Will Auburn name a starter next week? Will the Tigers wait until August, a few more practices and the inclusion of Woody Barrett in the fold? Two days after offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said he has an idea of the pecking order at quarterback stands, coach Gus Malzahn offered a different answer.
“Not at this moment,” he said. “Like I said, when we get done, I will get with Rhett and the offensive staff. I will say this: we have depth at that position and that is a good thing.”
All three quarterbacks are certainly not giving up, but they also failed to provide separation Saturday at A-Day inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Johnson and Franklin III both had touchdown throws, but White was more consistent, completing 8 of 14 passes for 125 yards.
Johnson and White also fumbled the ball inside the 30-yard line on zone-read plays.
White mostly worked with the first-team offense.
“That means I’ve been doing pretty well so far and I’ve just got to take advantage of it,” White said. “I feel like it’s my job to lose. 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 just got to bring it every day.”
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Franklin III’s words nearly echoed White’s statement. White has confidence after starting six games last season as a redshirt freshman. Franklin III is viewed as the only true dual-threat quarterback on the roster and he has certainly heard the comparisons to former Auburn star Nick Marshall, who sent Franklin III a text message before the scrimmage.
“No, I don’t feel any pressure, because all I can do is just go out there every day and do what I do best: play football,” Franklin III said. “Coach Malzahn and them can worry about the rest. I’m not going to make the decision, so why put pressure on myself? So, I just go out there and play football the best that I’ve been doing since I was 4 years old, and let him —l eave it up to him; he’s the one that has to make that decision.”
Meanwhile, Johnson faced questions about his future and whether he plans to stay at Auburn next fall. He squashed those rumors immediately following the scrimmage and said he’s at Auburn to win the starting job he lost last season, when he threw a nation-leading six interceptions in the first three games.
Johnson also knows what he needs to fix. Too often last season he attempted to elude pressure that was never there, resulting in off-balance throws and head-scratching interceptions thrown directly to defenders.
“To be consistent with my footwork, because your lower body determines where the ball goes and how you make those timing throws,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been really good with that and consistent with my footwork.”
Auburn coaches will review film Saturday, Sunday and Monday before conducting a clean-up day of practice Tuesday to end spring drills. After that, decisions may be made.
“The one thing I’ll always do with those guys is be honest and straightforward,” Lashlee said. “Each one is going to know exactly where they stand, where we stand, where we are in the process. That’s only fair to them. It would be that way for Sean, Jeremy, John, anyone, Tyler (Queen), on down the line. There’s no question we’ll be very forthright.”