Auburn quarterback John Franklin III has the potential to be a dynamic player.
Fans are just going to have to take the coaching staff’s word for it.
The junior college transfer showed little of his dual threat potential during a dull A-Day Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn played all three quarterbacks equally with the first and second team, but all three competitors ran an equally limited playbook the coach described as “vanilla.”
Franklin finished 6 of 11 for 61 yards with much of his production coming on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Davis.
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The quarterback, who wowed coaches and teammates with his speed throughout the spring practice, mainly stayed between the tackles Saturday with three carries for three yards.
Following the game, Franklin explained why wearing a non-contact orange jersey limited his ability to showcase his game-changing speed.
“There’s a lot of things I can do when I able to get hit that a lot people can’t do, so that plays to my advantage,” Franklin said. “The past two weeks I enjoyed playing live. I wish I could have played live today.”
Franklin verbally committed to Auburn in November under the belief he would thrive in coach Malzahn’s offense and the offensive would thrive under him.
Despite a so-so public debut, the month spent learning the ins-and-outs of Auburn’s offensive system has blostered Franklin’s confidence.
“It lets me run the ball and it lets me throw the ball,” Franklin said. “To have a quarterback with my skillset is very scary for a lot of defenses, I’ve been told by a couple of defensive coordinators. That’s just another person you got to worry about. I like it, because it lets me do both things. I’m not like stuck in an option offense and I’m not stuck in a spread offense; I get to do the best of both worlds. I love it.”
While Auburn’s offensive struggles did little to advance the team’s three-way quarterback battle — all Malzahn would say about Franklin’s performance is that it was solid — Franklin is going into the summer convinced the job is his for the taking.
“I told y’all before I got here, I came here for one goal, one reason and one reason only,” Franklin said. “That’s still my goal and that’s still the objective for me. I feel like I’m really in the mix now, especially now that I’m starting to pick up stuff quicker than they thought. It’s just going to get easier for me to run out; the more I run stuff, the easier it’s going to become.”
When pressed on his expectations, Franklin didn’t back down.
“I believe I’m going to be out there on Sept. 3 the first snap of the game,” Franklin said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s just how I operate. That’s the goal. That’s the objective for me. Nothing less.”