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Auburn coach Gus Malzahn 'unsure' who will start at QB against Georgia

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) throws a pass against Texas A&M during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in College Station, Texas. Auburn won 26-10. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) throws a pass against Texas A&M during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in College Station, Texas. Auburn won 26-10. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Happy birthday?

Auburn quarterback Sean White spent the afternoon receiving well-wishes for turning 20 years old from friends and followers on Twitter while coach Gus Malzahn was busy announcing his starting spot was up for grabs.

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Malzahn said no decision has been made about who will start against Georgia – White or Jeremy Johnson.

“I'm not for sure right now who will be the first guy out there,” Malzahn said. “We'll see after we practice this week. But I will tell you this -- we've got confidence in both these guys. Both these guys have won SEC games on the road, and I think that says a lot. I know our players and coaches have confidence in both of them also.”

White went into preparations for the Texas A&M game with an injured left knee, and suffered an additional undisclosed injury during the week.

Malzahn said White was a “little better” during a limited practice Sunday, and would get a better idea of the redshirt freshman’s health when Auburn returned to the practice field Tuesday night.  

“We didn't do a whole lot but a little bit better,” Malzahn said. “We'll know more after today and tomorrow and Thursday, and we'll be able to make better calls on that.”

But Malzahn made it clear that even if White is 100 percent healthy he isn’t necessarily going to reclaim the starting job over Jeremy Johnson.

“There's a lot more to it than that,” Malzahn said. “I think right now me and coach Lashlee will get together. I think the big thing for everyone is we have confidence in both of them, and we should. We feel very good going into this game with our quarterback situation.”

Johnson played well in a 26-10 win over Texas A&M going 13 of 17 for 132 yards with a touchdown. The junior had been used sparingly since losing the starting spot after a tough loss to LSU.

He gained confidence early by completing nine straight passes to put the Tigers up 14-3 in the first half.  

“He was ready and he had his sleeves rolled up,” Malzahn said. “He was ready to prove himself. He was able to do it, so that is big for him and our team moving forward.”

This marks Auburn’s second in-season quarterback competition with White and Johnson previously competing during the bye week.

Malzahn was tight-lipped about the battle, and how the coaching staff planned on determining the winner. He was similarly reserved Tuesday when pressed about the key criteria for picking a starter.

“I think it’s all the factors,” Malzahn said. “I will say this, he (Jeremy) has his edge back and he does have his confidence back. We have confidence in him. We’ve got confidence in Sean too, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds right now. It’s just a matter of what we decide to do plan-wise, but it’s proven we can win with both of them, which is always a good thing.”

The strong confidence in both quarterbacks made Malzahn even leave the door open for playing both.

“That is a possibility,” Malzahn said.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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