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By the numbers: Auburn’s offense has little to show for substituting quarterbacks 22 times Saturday night

Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium before the game against Clemson on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium before the game against Clemson on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn ran 71 plays on offense Saturday night in a 19-13 loss to Clemson.

Coach Gus Malzahn substituted between quarterbacks Sean White, John Franklin III and Jeremy Johnson along with a wildcat package featuring Chandler Cox and Kerryon Johnson 22 times with 13 of the substitutions coming in the middle of drives.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger summed up Auburn’s offensive game plan at the end of the night.

“There’s been a whole lot of eye candy for not much results,” Musburger said.

Jeremy Johnson received the most consecutive snaps during a stretch from the first to second quarter, coming out for 15 straight plays over two drives.

After Johnson was sacked on back-to-back plays near the end of the first half, he played six more snaps the rest of the game.

Franklin, who only threw the ball once and didn’t attempt a single run, finished the game with nine snaps. He didn’t stay on the field for more than three straight plays the entire game.

The best opportunity for Franklin to make an impact under center came early in the third quarter. Kerryon Johnson broke a pair of first down runs on handoffs from Franklin to get Auburn down to Clemson’s 36-yard line.

Clemson’s defense worried about Franklin keeping the ball on both plays, which helped Kerryon Johnson find some space.

Franklin’s chance at the spotlight was shortlived as he was taken out of the game only to watch Jeremy Johnson throw an interception two plays later.

Both Musburger and former NFL quarterback Jesse Palmer immediately questioned Auburn’s substitution pattern.

“Why would you make that switch?” Musburger asked incredulously.

White seemed more like the starter Auburn announced him as in the second half when he was at quarterback for 62 percent of the plays (30 of 48).

With White struggling to find a rhythm for much of the game, Palmer discussed his time as a quarterback for Florida under Steve Spurrier. Spurrier rotated Palmer at different times during his collegiate career with former Gators quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Doug Johnson. Palmer and his teammates had an easier time getting into the flow of the game than the Auburn quarterbacks did Saturday night.

“Some guys are different,” Palmer said.

Auburn also mixed in its wildcat package Saturday night, going to it five times in the second half. Cox ran the ball three times out of the formation and Kerryon Johnson got the other two carries.

Coach Gus Malzahn was asked about his approach to the substitutions following the loss, but declined to get into too many specifics about how he decided the nature of his three-man rotation.

“They had roles, they had specific things that they did,” Malzahn said.


Sean White

John Franklin

Jeremy Johnson


1st quarter snaps





2nd quarter snaps





3rd quarter snaps





4th quarter snaps





Total snaps (71)