Malzahn names White starter, Franklin second string in Tuesday presser

AUBURN, Ala. (WIAT) — After a first game that saw three quarterbacks play the position, including sharing the field together for one play, the Auburn Tigers will be moving forward with just two for the rest of the season.

In his weekly press conference, Gus Malzahn said Sean White will be the starter going forward, which is no change from the game against Clemson, and that John Franklin III will occupy the second spot on the depth chart, moving last year’s opening game starter, Jeremy Johnson, to third string.

“Going into the first game, we planned to throw a lot at them. We felt like all three quarterbacks had some things they could be successful with,” Malzahn said. “We were going to give them a lot to think about. We weren’t able to be as successful as I thought we’d be.

“Like I said, we’re moving forward with Sean White, and bringing John Franklin III along.”

Malzahn was asked about the performance of all three quarterbacks from Saturday’s game as reporters worked to get a fuller understanding of what went into this decision.

“We thought he handled himself pretty well,” Malzahn said of Franklin. “He’s an inexperienced guy, and he got some experience, which I think that’s a bright spot. Now that he’s been out there and he knows how he’s going to react and our coaches know how he’s going to react, we’ll just see how the season unfolds.”

Gus said Sean White’s toughness is what stood out to him and played a part in this decision.

“Sean took some licks and he hangs in there. He can throw the ball down the field,” Malzahn said of his starter. “He did an outstanding job of buying himself some time, and took a big lick. He has good control of our offense, too.”

The biggest question surrounding the quarterback position is what Jeremy Johnson’s role will be going forward. Gus said Johnson will be third string and be ready if called upon.

“Jeremy Johnson will still get reps in practice,” Gus said. “We thought there would be some running opportunities for him….There were a few holes that we thought would be a little cleaner to run though, but weren’t as clean as we thought.”

With the QB position settled, Auburn moves on to face Malzahn’s former team, Arkansas State.

“It was a special time for me there,” Malzahn said. “They gave me an opportunity to be a head football coach. It was a very fun year…I’ve got some special memories there from that standpoint, and you’ve got to separate that. You’ve got your football team, and you’ve got to prepare, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game can be seen on the SEC Network.

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