A couple of days after defending the conviction to keep the undisputed starting quarterback in a metaphorical trench in Baton Rouge, Auburn is finally giving in.
Head coach Gus Malzahn announced Tuesday that he was changing his starting quarterback from Jeremy Johnson to Redshirt Freshman Sean White. White will get his first start with the Tigers against Mississippi State this weekend at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“Sean White is going to be our starter,” Malzahn said. “Sean is in a good spot. He’s practiced well. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re going to start him out.”
Once deemed an early Heisman Trophy candidate, taking over for an electrifying Nick Marshall, Johnson had the keys to the Auburn Tigers season. However, a series of close calls to begin the season lit a fire of criticism under Johnson and the Auburn coaching staff.
Auburn won its first two games of the season by a touchdown: the season opener in the Georgia Dome against unranked Louisville, followed by a late overtime touchdown to pick up the win against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. Auburn’s close calls finally came back to bite them Saturday in Baton Rouge. LSU routed Auburn 45-21. Johnson obviously struggled, hurling 100 yards on 11 of 19 passing. He added another interception, giving him six on the season and an average of two interceptions per game.
Along with personal team struggles, pundits and pollsters have not been kind to Auburn either. The Tigers began the season ranked No. 6. They held on to that ranking until the near-loss vs. Jacksonville State lead to the Tigers slipping to No. 18. The Tigers lost more than a vital SEC game Saturday in Death Valley. They all but fell out of most Top 25 polls.
Now, the Tigers look to Sean White, who has no game experience. White, a 6-foot, 200-pound pre-business major was rated as one of the Top 10 quarterback prospects by multiple recruiting services out of University Nova South High School in Boca Raton, Florida.