Coach Malzahn waiting on making QB choice for Kentucky game
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says the quarterback competition is still going on after an open date.
Malzahn said Monday he’s not ready to announce a choice between Sean White and Jeremy Johnson for the starting job in Thursday night’s visit to Kentucky. He reopened the competition during last week’s open date.
”I really feel like Jeremy’s done a solid job,” Malzahn said. ”He’s back in the mix. I think it’s been good for both of them. We’ll make a call on that later in the week.”
White has started the past two games after Johnson struggled with poor decisions.
Johnson opened the season drawing some hype as a potential Heisman Trophy contender, but was intercepted six times in three starts. He also threw five touchdown passes.
White has started the past two games with no touchdown passes but only one interception. Receiver Melvin Ray said Johnson has handled his benching well.
”He’s actually had a quite positive attitude,” Ray said. ”People wouldn’t think so, but ever since he’s been demoted or what not he’s had a good attitude, he’s been working really hard and looking really good.
”I could see why there’s a battle between those two now because it could go either way. It’s just all about whoever can give us the best chance. He’s been looking good.”
Malzahn said it was a possibility the Tigers could have a package for both quarterbacks against the Wildcats.
”In this off week, we wanted to see how the guys would respond in competition,” he said. ”Not just that position but other positions. And I think it’s been very healthy for our whole team.”
Whoever starts, the passing game took a hit when Malzahn dismissed receiver D’haquille Williams from the team last week after repeated off-the-field issues.
Backup center Xavier Dampeer is out for an extended period with an unspecified injury and will miss the Kentucky game, Malzahn said.
Neither quarterback has been able to generate the kind of yards and fast tempo that Auburn has been known for under Malzahn. The Tigers rank 113th nationally in passing yards and 105th in total offense.
”We’re at our best when we’re playing fast, when we’re getting rhythm and tempo,” Malzahn said. ”Rhythm and tempo (was) a big factor in our off week, and explosive plays. We have to get more explosive plays. That’s been probably the biggest issue that we’ve had as far as getting in rhythm, as far as getting points on the board.
”We’ve got that plan during the off week, personnel-wise and everything that goes with that. So hopefully that will carry over Thursday night.”