War Eagle Extra

‘Bizarre’: Auburn’s QB strategy against Clemson still confuses Brent Musburger

Auburn quarterback Sean White throws at practice for the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 in New Orleans, La.
Auburn quarterback Sean White throws at practice for the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 in New Orleans, La. Auburn Athletics

As ESPN announcer Brent Musburger prepares to call next week’s Sugar Bowl, he can’t help but look back to Auburn’s season-opener against Clemson.

Musburger was on the Plains with his broadcast partner Jesse Palmer for Auburn’s 19-13 loss to Clemson in the season-opener.

The longtime play-by-play voice hopes coach Gus Malzahn’s offensive game plan shares little in common with the one they witnessed back in September.

“It was the most bizarre use of quarterbacks I think I’ve ever seen in all my years doing games,” Musburger said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. “They used three different fellas at different times. Right in the middle of a series they would send out a different quarterback. It was bizarre.”

Auburn rotated among Sean White, Jeremy Johnson, John Franklin III and the wildcat package 20-plus times with 13 substitutions coming in the middle of drives.

“There’s been a whole lot of eye candy for not much results,” Musburger said during the broadcast.

Musburger is glad Auburn “got beyond” its issues under center to finish 8-4 and secure the program’s sixth Sugar Bowl appearance.

White dealt with an injured throwing shoulder late in the season, but Malzahn said as recently as Tuesday the coaching staff expects the team’s starting quarterback to be 100 percent.

“If Sean White goes the distance, I will look over at Jesse Palmer in the fourth quarter and say, Jesse, what a pleasure to do Auburn when they use only one quarterback,” Musburger said.

With Auburn bringing in high-profile quarterback transfer Jarrett Stidham, a strong performance in the Sugar Bowl will also help White put an early stamp on what’s sure to be another fierce competition.

“Sean would have a big head start …” Musburger said. “Let’s say he has a solid, solid game. Of course, he’s got to be given a little bit of an edge because of experience. That doesn’t mean he can hold off a talented youngster, someone who has been around a little bit, played at the collegiate level.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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