Auburn quarterback John Franklin III gingerly tossed the ball around on the sidelines in the second half of a 7-7 tie at Sanford Stadium.
When Franklin started warming up, the offense was in the midst of arguably the least productive half of football in coach Gus Malzahn’s career.
Earlier this year, Franklin was called into action to provide the offense a spark against Texas A&M.
It wasn’t a scenario coaches contemplated in the 13-7 loss Saturday night.
“I think it’s pretty obvious we’re at a different point now than where we were when we played Texas A&M,”Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “I guess we were 1-1 and about to be 1-2 and things here are different. When you’ve gone on a six-game winning streak and your offense has been the No. 1 unit in the league so far behind a quarterback who is playing arguably as good as anybody in the league, you’re going to go with your guy. The New England Patriots aren’t going to bench Tom Brady if he goes 0 for 7 on in a half.”
Lashlee spent the early portion of his press conference Sunday night defending the coaching staff for leaving an injured White in the game. White hasn’t taken a single snap at practice since injuring his throwing shoulder against Ole Miss.
“There was never any question or consideration to making a change because I think you saw John warming up and come in one of his packages in the early drives,” Lashlee said. “There was a couple of things that we saw that were there that could potentially happen later in the game. That was (JF3) working on his own and feeling good about it.”
The sophomore reaggravated the injury when an unblocked safety bowled him over on a blitz early in the game.
White regrets not being more vocal about the trouble he was having Saturday night particularly in the second half when he 2 of 13 for eight yards with an interception, but Lashlee’s opinion never waivered.
“We felt like we did in the second half last week when he had to come in last week against Vanderbilt that he gave us the best chance to win,” Lashlee said. “When you’re in a tight game, we were ahead 7-0 for a good part of it and a one score game throughout, there was no indication that he was limited to the point that he couldn’t give us the best chance to win.”