Auburn ended training camp in a similar position at quarterback to when it opened spring practice five months ago — without a quarterback.
“I’m not ready to name a starter right now possibly in the near future that could happen,” Malzahn said after Monday’s practice.
As Malzahn’s timeline for naming a starter has shifted dramatically — the coach opened camp hoping to name a starter as soon as possible — his message to the fans has remained the same.
“It's a real positive thing that we've got a fierce competition going on,” Malzahn said. “Our guys are battling.”
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The sentiment is the same one he expressed on the first day of camp, during offseason workouts and spring camp.
Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and junior college transfer John Franklin III continue to rotate reps equally with the first team, but with less than three weeks until the season-opener Malzahn acknowledged the challenge of evenly splitting the snaps for too much longer.
All three competitors will be back on the field Wednesday.
Johnson, who missed Saturday’s scrimmage for undisclosed reasons, was back practicing with the team Sunday before fan day.
“That's definitely the plan,” Malzahn said of narrowing down the competition. “I'll take you back to 2013. It was about two weeks, two and a half weeks and we went ahead and went live and that's when Nick (Marshall) won the job. That definitely helped once we narrowed things down. That would definitely be one of our plans.”
What’s holding Malzahn back from naming a starter?
The only concrete answer the coach is willing to give is that he’s just not ready. He reiterated what he said last week about it being a gut feeling.
“Until I'm 100 percent we'll keep letting those guys battle,” Malzahn said.
The ongoing indecisiveness hasn’t changed Malzahn’s mind about using multiple quarterbacks. Malzahn wants to crown a winner in the competition, an opinion he expressed after the team’s second scrimmage on Saturday and again on Monday.
“We've always had a Wildcat-type guy and we've always had a starter,” Malzahn said. “I'm not ready to say that quite yet. We're hoping to have the guy.”
The more things change...
“I feel good about the competition we have there.”
Gus Malzahn, March 3
“I think we’re in a good spot quarterback-wise.”
Gus Malzahn, May 4
“There is a great competition. All three of those guys are rolling up their sleeves and they’re competing trying to win the job.”
Gus Malzahn, August 4
“It's a real positive thing that we've got a fierce competition going on. Our guys are battling.”
Gus Malzahn, August 15