Auburn remains unsettled at the quarterback spot, but history suggests that might not be a bad thing for coach Gus Malzahn.
“The good thing is we do have experience in this before,” Malzahn said Monday during SEC Football Media Days. “Three years ago we had a wide-open job. That’s when Nick Marshall won the job and we ended up having a pretty good year with that.”
The Tigers reached the national championship game that season.
Of course, at the moment, nobody is suggesting Auburn will make a similar run after going 7-6 and finishing last in the SEC West in 2015.
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“The positive is we have three guys that we feel like can execute our offense,” Malzahn said. “The challenge we have is defining and figuring out who that guy is that gives us the best chance to win games.”
Senior Jeremy Johnson received preseason Heisman Trophy hype last season, but was benched for ineffectiveness only three games into the season.
Sophomore Sean White stepped in, but was injured after making starts for an offense that ranked 74th in scoring, 94th in total offense and 11th in passing last season.
The Tigers added junior John Franklin III, a junior college transfer from East Mississippi Community College, into the mix.
“I’m just ready to have one guy we can get behind and do what we need to do from there,” senior wide receiver Marcus Davis said.
Franklin, who transferred from Florida State in May 2015, had a strong spring, emerging perhaps as the front-runner for the job.
“First of all, John is the guy to be impressed with,” Malzahn said. “He’s really won his teammates’ respect which is always important for a new guy coming in. It’s very important to him. He’s a hard worker.”
The biggest adjustment for the offense might not come on the field as Malzahn has vowed to be more involved with the offense again.
“One thing that really hit me pretty hard is that I’ve got to be more active with the daily Xs and Os and coaching that goes with that,” he said. “That’s what I look at as my strength, so … I’m looking forward to getting back in the middle of things and enjoying the actual coaching on the field.”
Malzahn wasn’t pleased with the execution last season, but he’s confident those things were correctable.