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Auburn coach Gus Malzahn standing behind QB Sean White as starter

Auburn quarterback Sean White warms up before facing Arkansas St. Sept. 10, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn quarterback Sean White warms up before facing Arkansas St. Sept. 10, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn named Sean White his starting quarterback Tuesday afternoon for a third time this season

Malzahn turned to backup John Franklin III for a spark in the fourth quarter of a 29-16 loss to Texas A&M. The coach didn’t rule out giving the junior college transfer a shot against LSU after the game.

“We’ll talk about things next week,” Malzahn said.

The coaching staff’s review of the film brought them back to the conclusion they made when they named White Auburn’s opening week starter in August.

“We feel like he gives us the best chance of winning,” Malzahn said. “We have to be better around him and we have to put him in better situations from a coach’s standpoint.”

It echoed what Malzahn said Saturday night — many of Auburn’s offensive struggles against Texas A&M had little to do with the quarterback.

On Tuesday, Malzahn spoke at length how Texas A&M’s strategy rushing the defensive end straight at the midline of the running back and quarterback — or “mesh charging” — gave the offense problems throughout the game.

“That is really the number one focus from the offensive staff standpoint -- the negative plays,” Malzahn said. “We are getting behind the chains.”

White is 45 of 71 for 510 yards with three touchdowns to one interception. He’s run the ball 22 times for 56 yards.

Malzahn would like to put White in more situations like the one the sophomore thrived in during the first quarter against Texas A&M when he orchestrated a nine-play, 80-yard drive in less than three minutes.

It’s one of the few times this season where White looked comfortable running the offense.

“There’s no doubt when he gets into a rhythm, he’s a very solid quarterback,” Malzahn said.

One of the adjustments Malzahn might make to replicate that success is giving White a little more autonomy at the line of scrimmage.

“He is getting to a point where he can take charge a little bit more,” Malzahn said. “And we as coaches, we need to give him a little more freedom, and that’s part of the plan moving forward.”

Malzahn also plans to evaluate Franklin’s role in upcoming weeks.

While the quarterback did give Auburn the spark it was looking for Saturday night, it remains to be seen whether he will have an increased presence in the game plan.

Franklin was 4 of 8 for 37 yards with nine rushing attempts for 47 yards leading a pair of drives into the end zone.

“I think from an offensive staff standpoint, all of those things are being evaluated,” Malzahn said. “Each game unfolds a little bit different. Each game is a little bit different and maybe in the fourth quarter they are playing a little bit looser. It is just different. It’s not just as easy as watching it, but at the same time, your offensive personnel has to play to your strengths.”

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