By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — The lights have come on, the lights have gone off and Gus Malzahn says he has a better idea how he'll play out this football season after watching 17 players make their Auburn debut.
Malzahn says he'll go with Sean White as his starting quarterback, John Franklin III as the No. 2 quarterback and plans to use more running backs and young receivers in Saturday's home game against Arkansas State following last weekend's 19-13 loss to Clemson.
Malzahn watched seven first-time starters, including Marlon Davidson, who became the first true freshman to start on opening day in the Auburn defensive line since at least 1985. Six true freshmen and five redshirt freshmen played.
"We were curious about a lot of things offensively," Malzahn said. "We had some new guys — quite a few new guys playing new positions or flat out the first time they played college football. We learned a lot about our guys. We will continue to learn about our guys.
"The takeaway is we played a pretty good defense and the takeaway for me is that we have a chance to be a good offense. We are going to be continue to strive to be, and you are going to see this offense improve.”
Malzahn said the close loss was tough.
"Anytime you lose a close game you have a chance to win those are the ones that hurt. You got to move forward. You have to take away the positive is that we can play with anybody in the country, that’s what we learned Saturday night.”
Malzahn said freshman receivers Kyle Davis and Nate Craig-Myers will have a bigger role.
"Both those guys you will see on the field more and more. They are very talented. They just need game reps. The first half we were planning on playing our older guys, and I think that’s wise in a big game, the first time they played we were going to gradually bring them along. Both those guys when they were in there did some really good things. You will see them more and more as we go."
Here are the 17 players who made their Auburn debut
True freshmen: Marlon Davidson, Nate Craig-Myers, Derrick Brown, Kyle Davis, John Broussard Jr. and Tre' Threat.
Redshirt freshmen: Darius Slayton, Javaris Davis, Mike Horton, Tyler Carr and Griffin King.
Sophomore: Markell Boston
Senior: Greg Hall Jr.
Transfers: Paul James III, Darius James, T.J. Neal and John Franklin III.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine