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Auburn coach Gus Malzahn tight-lipped following first scrimmage of training camp

Auburn quarterback John Franklin III waits for the snap on Saturday.
Auburn quarterback John Franklin III waits for the snap on Saturday. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn protected the football to coach Gus Malzahn’s liking in the first scrimmage of training camp Tuesday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The coach had little else of substance to say about what transpired over the 100-plus play scrimmage.

“This was an evaluation scrimmage,” Malzahn said. “Very basic on offense and defense, so we could evaluate. I think there will be a lot of things that will help us as coaches as far as evaluation goes. After we grade the tape, I think we'll know a lot more.”

The three quarterbacks competing for the starting job — Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and junior college transfer John Franklin III — wore non-contact orange jerseys and split time with the first and second team.

Malzahn hopes to name a starting quarterback without having to put the veterans in any live situations during fall camp.

“We're putting them into some pressure situations and competitive situations,” Malzahn said. “We're hoping we can make that call without having to do that.”

True freshman quarterback Woody Barrett faced live competition as the coaching staff takes time developing the team’s most recent signee at the position.

“He rotated some with the twos and the threes,” Malzahn said. “It was a good chance for them to go out there and show what he can do. It was his first rodeo, so it was good for him as far as communication and ball security and everything that goes with that.”

Auburn players revealed some morsels of information about the scrimmage following Malzahn’s session with reporters.

“Marcus Davis, he scored,” Auburn wide receiver Tony Stevens said. “Ryan Davis, he had a big play. I had a big play, Jason Smith, he scored. We're all playmakers, that's what we do.”

Franklin led Auburn down the field on a scoring drive on his first possession at quarterback. The running backs didn’t break any long runs and were held out of the end zone, but the overall feeling from the Tigers skill players was that the offense executed at a high level under all three quarterbacks.

“What stood out most from the offense was our pace. We did good with our pace — lining up on the ball, getting on the ball fast, things like that,” Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway said.

The offense may have put up some points, but it didn’t mean the defense didn’t hold its own.

“I think the defense jumped out early and made some plays but after the first half break, the offense came out with two quick touchdowns,” Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis said.

Malzahn stayed focus on his overall impressions of the scrimmage instead of focusing on which team walked back to the athletic complex on top.

“They weren't sleepwalking,” Malzahn said. “Sometimes it takes them a while to get going. I didn't feel that way from anybody. I felt the urgency. They wanted to come out here and play together. It was positive energy.”

Scrimmage standouts

Auburn players offered their own take on Tuesday’s scrimmage with each offering a different MVP.

“To me the star of this scrimmage from the start was Montavious Atkinson. He made a lot of great plays. Early in the year, he struggled to pick up the defense but right now you can tell he’s been studying his playbook. I’m proud of him.”

Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis

“Markell Boston. He had a lot of great plays today. He impressed me a whole lot.”

Auburn defensive back Stephen Roberts

“Eli Stove reminds me of Ryan Davis when he first came in. Everything is very fast. He made a big play today so I'm very impressed with him.”

Auburn wide receiver Tony Stevens