Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wanted to give his starting quarterback at least a week to prepare for the season opener knowing he was in the No. 1 spot. On Thursday, Malzahn announced that Sean White is the team's starter for 2016, ending a tight competition with Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III.
"It feels really good," said White, who started six games last season. "I feel blessed to be in this position, and I feel responsible to lead this team against Clemson. I'm happy coach put this responsibility on me and my teammates believe in me. I feel like they have a reason to believe in me. We'll be ready to go come Saturday."
Here are four things to know about White's elevation to starter and Auburn's outlook for 2016.
1. White brings some of stability: White started six games last season, threw for 1,167 yards and completed 58 percent of his passes. "I think he's improved in all areas. I think anytime you have experience in something it's going to help," Malzahn noted, adding that White is "in a good spot."
White had a good spring, understands the offense and brings the experience factor that gives Malzahn and his staff the most confidence heading into that season-opener against Clemson. It's important to get White a full week of running with the starters after sharing reps with Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III, and now it's time for him to build chemistry with receivers, many he's connected with in the past.
"We told the team, told the players today," Malzahn said. "The team was excited for him."
2. Franklin takes a back seat again: If you watched "Last Chance U" on Netflix, you saw Franklin spend most of his season at East Mississippi Community College as a backup to Wyatt Roberts, now at Mississippi State. When Roberts was injured, Franklin came in and dominated, so much so that the beat down triggered a bench-clearing, season-ending brawl. "John Franklin competed extremely hard,"Malzahn said Thursday. "Like I said, he improved greatly since spring practice, and we expected him to."
3. White's as healthy as he's been: White dealt with knee and foot injuries during his time at Auburn, but now he's telling reporters (via 247Sports) that he finally feels healthy.
"Night and day difference for me," White said. "Last year, like I said, part of that might be on me, but before the season, I prepared hard, I wasn't slacking, but I wasn't preparing to go out and start and lead the team until my name was called on. This year, I had all spring, all preseason to prepare like I'm the starter. That's been a huge difference as far as timing with the receivers and just being able to go out there and run the plays, not think, and being able to lead everybody. With Ricardo (Louis), Ricardo last year he was out there for three years and it was like my first game. It's hard for me to get on him like, 'Hey man. Do this. Do this.' Now I feel comfortable out there where I feel like I can lead the offense, lead the team."
4. Big picture -- Defense should reduce pressure on offense: If you consider recruiting rankings, Auburn has one of the 15 most talented rosters in college football. So why is no one taking the Tigers seriously as a College Football Playoff contender?
Some of that has to do with the uncertainty at quarterback, which we now know will be White. Auburn's defense loses Will Muschamp but rides behind a healthy line that can stack up against any in the SEC West. Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, Marlon Davidson, Byron Cowart and Dontavius Russell make for a nasty rotation up front, and if they can bolster an improved defense, it will make White's job (or whoever ins playing quarterback) easier.