War Eagle Extra

Auburn tests QB John Franklin III in live scrimmage for second straight week

Auburn quarterback John Franklin III, No. 5, runs the ball at spring practice on April 2, 2016.
Auburn quarterback John Franklin III, No. 5, runs the ball at spring practice on April 2, 2016. Auburn Athletics

Auburn used half of its practice Saturday to scrimmage for the second week in a row.

“Our ones got about 20 plays, our twos got about 35, our threes got about 25,” coach Gus Malzahn said. “It was kind of making sure our orange was getting some live reps, but it was really focused on developing some younger guys.”

Or newer players like junior college transfer John Franklin III.

While quarterbacks Jeremy Johnson and Sean White were back in non-contact orange jerseys, Franklin went live during the scrimmage period as he did last week at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“We just felt like it was important one more time to see how he can protect the football, just let him make some plays with his feet,” Malzahn said. “It was a good evaluation from that end.”

Auburn has four practices left this spring including next Saturday’s A-Day. According to Malzahn, the team’s annual spring game is likely the final time it will have a full-blown scrimmage this spring.

The offensive coaching staff was looking for Franklin to show better ball security in one of his final spring auditions.

“He protected the football quite a bit better than he did last Saturday, which is to be expected,” Malzahn said. “It's just a matter of him feeling more comfortable. We know quite a bit about the other two guys, and the other two guys have had very good practices the last couple of weeks. We're just going to make sure we get a really good evaluation of John and let him play and see what he can do.”

Malzahn allowed the defense to blitz and run whatever plays it wanted. Franklin continues to read the defense well as he gets more comfortable in Auburn’s offense system.

“We've been impressed the way he's picked up all the things from the sideline ― the pre-snap things,” Malzahn said. “There's a lot to playing quarterback in our system before the play even starts, but you even look at the defense. I've been very impressed the way he's done that. He's a learner. He's study hard. We're just kind of waiting until the game becomes slow.”

Auburn fans will get their first glimpse of Franklin at A-Day. The format for the game will be determined by the Tigers’ coaching staff towards the end of the week.