By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Sean White won another starting assignment. John Franklin III provided a spark. Now, Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will be looking to put his quarterbacks over the top.
Auburn plays host to LSU at 5 p.m. Saturday with an offense that leads the SEC in rushing by a wide margin, and one that will be looking to make life easier by having more manageable third-down calls. The Tigers have had too many third-and-forevers.
"You've got to be smart, you've got to give your guys a chance, and you can put them in situations that are fair to them," Lashlee said. "But there's also that balance of, if you get to conservative trying to not mess up, you don't make any plays and you still end up messing up. So you've got to still be aggressive.
"We got to give our guys chances to make plays. It's a players' game. So we have to give them those opportunities."
Enter White and Franklin, who combined for 210 yards against Texas A&M last Saturday.
Lashlee said White "started off very well" against A&M. And, "I think Sean's done a nice job. We've got to do some things to help him out." White found his game against Arkansas State in Week Two when he became the first Auburn quarterback since Cam Newton in 2010 to complete at least 70 percent of his passes, throw three touchdown passes and have at least 300 yards of total offense in the same game.
Franklin played most of the fourth quarter last week with Lashlee saying "we just needed to try to have a spark. I thought he made some plays. But there are some things he needs to continue to play so the instincts kick in and get better.
"I think he's definitely more ready than he was. He's getting all the reps at practice now with the twos, and I think that's done nothing but help him. He's played now in games, in some real plays, like drives, game experience, not just a special play here or there. I think things are slowly slowing down for him.
"We'll just continue his progression. When he's at practice, he's expected to know the whole offense. Now, can you go out and execute it and react and be instinctive and situational in a game?"
Waiting farther in the wings is freshman quarterback Woody Barrett. He's staying with Lashlee during practice rather than working with the scout team, though his duties are limited.
"When you're getting guys ready during a normal game week, you can usually get only two guys ready. He'll get some individual drills, he'll get some reps and throwing routes," Lashlee said. "But when it comes to team reps, he's not getting a lot of reps because there's not enough time if you're trying to get the No. 1 and No. 2 guy ready. He's getting better and just keep letting him play."
Lashlee said it's difficult for any quarterback to survive a lot of third-and-longs. Auburn has faced 24 third-and-7 or longer. Seventeen of those have been third-and-10 or longer.
"We've had a lot of third-and-longs and it doesn't matter what you're doing, you're not going to convert a lot of those."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine