Is Auburn considering using two quarterbacks this fall?
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn gave his most definitive answer to the question this spring Tuesday night in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame on his latest stop of the 2016 Tiger Trek.
“No,” Malzahn said if he would use multiple quarterbacks. “We really want to have a starter.”
The coaching staff gave no indication of frontrunner in the competition following spring camp and lackluster offensive A-Day performance, but Malzahn remains confident he will name a Jeremy Johnson, Sean White or newcomer John Franklin III the starter before Auburn takes the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 3 against Clemson.
“We are going to name somebody hopefully sooner rather than later once we start fall camp,” Malzahn said. “We won’t name somebody until we are 100 percent sure.”
Malzahn worked closely with Franklin throughout spring camp — “I was trying to get a real good feel for him” — but cautioned against reading anything into his extra involvement with the junior college transfer.
“I was pretty hands on with entire offense,” Malzahn said.
All three quarterbacks argued their case for the starting job following A-Day. Johnson said he has faith in himself to win the competition while White said it was his job to lose. White had the best performance of the group on A-Day throwing for 125 yards on 8 of 14 passing including a pair of long completions to Marcus Davis.
Franklin, a junior college transfer out of East Mississippi Community College, felt hindered in the exhibition game by the orange non-contact jersey, but the dual threat quarterback’s athleticism was one of the most talked about subjects of the spring.
The former Florida State quarterback made it clear he didn’t come to the Plains to spend time on the bench.
“I believe I’m going to be out there on Sept. 3 the first snap of the game,” Franklin said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s just how I operate. That’s the goal. That’s the objective for me. Nothing less.”
While Malzahn consistently praised all three quarterbacks over the course of 15 spring practices, he vowed to create separation in the competition when the team returned to the practice field in the fall.
“We will have ways to put our guys in situations for somebody to step up,” Malzahn said. “(Nick) Marshall a few years ago, he was pretty equal for the first two or three weeks and we decided to go live one time and he won the job that day. Hopefully we don’t get to the point where we have to have our quarterbacks go live in the fall camp, that’s not the plan.”