Auburn’s Sean White improving, still hunting first TD pass

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Sean White is still seeking his first touchdown pass four starts into his Auburn career, but he’s also been putting up better numbers otherwise.

The redshirt freshman quarterback managed to pass for 509 yards the past two games, leading the Tigers to a win over Kentucky and into a fourth overtime against Arkansas before falling 54-46. Dropped passes not errant throws were the biggest issue against the Razorbacks.

Still, White has started four games and attempted 97 passes without getting one into the end zone. He said he’s not sweating the lack of a touchdown pass.

”I mean, they’ll come when they come,” said White, whose only interception came early in his debut against Mississippi State. ”As long as we’re scoring points and scoring touchdowns, that’s what’s important to me. And we’re moving the ball.”

The Tigers (4-3, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) might have troubles keeping up with No. 19 Mississippi and its league-leading offense on Saturday without some big plays in the passing game.

They had at least seven dropped passes against Arkansas, including several by leading receiver Ricardo Louis. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said White became an ”encourager” rather than getting frustrated with his teammates.

”You’ve just got to keep giving them the ball,” White said. ”I encourage them during the game, `I’m going to keep coming to you. I’m going to keep throwing to you.’

”You just have to push it out of your head, just like if I make a bad throw or throw an interception, you’ve got to move on to the next play. I think that’s what they did, and that’s what I try to tell them.”

White has avoided the mistakes that cost Jeremy Johnson the starting job after three games. He’s completing 63.9 percent of his passes but the Tigers still ranked 103rd in passing offense.

Peyton Barber, meanwhile, has rushed for 11 touchdowns in the past three games, the most over a three-game span of any FBS player this season.

White will face an Ole Miss defense that held Texas A&M to just 192 total yards. Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen was 12 of 34 passing.

White passed for 255 yards against Kentucky and 254 versus Arkansas.

”I think you can see it, just the way he’s managing the game,” Malzahn said. ”It’s been three games since we’ve had a turnover. He’s protecting the football. He’s doing a good job with running our offense.

”You can see that he understands the progressions in the passing game and he’s just getting more and more comfortable each time out.”

AUBURN NOTE: Defensive end Carl Lawson returning to practice Tuesday for the first time since a hip injury in the opener against Louisville, Malzahn said. The coach wouldn’t say if Lawson would be able to play against Ole Miss. ”But the fact that he is out there practicing, I think will be good from a leadership standpoint if nothing else,” he said.