By Charles Goldberg
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Coach Gus Malzahn said he called on John Franklin III to provide a spark to Auburn's offense Saturday night.
John Franklin III was good with that.
The Auburn quarterback had the team's longest pass play of the season and Auburn's second longest run in the game in Alabama's 30-12 Iron Bowl win Saturday night. Franklin, a backup all season, saw extended action in the second half in relief of Jeremy Johnson, who started over the injured Sean White.
Franklin took it all in stride.
"I don't put pressure on me," he said. "It's coming out and playing football. That's something we've been doing all of our lives, most of us. It's not something to make more than it is just because it's the big stage. So what? It's just playing football. That's how I approach every game. I've been doing this since I was 4 years old, so why put more pressure than it has to be?"
White didn't play because of a lingering shoulder injury, and Malzahn said he's not sure he'll be available for Auburn's bowl game. That could mean more action for Franklin.
"I'm down for it. Whatever to help my team out," he said. "That's how I've always been here since I got here. If I play one play, if I play 20 plays, I'll try to help us win as much as I can."
Franklin hit two of his four passes for 85 yards, including a 55-yarder to Eli Stove. Franklin also had 14 yards rushing on three carries. His passing and running accounted for almost half of Auburn's offense in the game in which all of the Tigers' scoring came off the leg of Lou Groza Award finalist Daniel Carlson.
"We wanted to play John a little bit more," Malzahn said. "Towards the end of the game, we felt like we needed a spark. John did a good job with that. He moved us down the field a couple of times. He made a play with his legs on third down-and-10, and then hit a deep one and a screen. We got some pace and tempo going.
"Twice he's done that. In the future, you could see more."
Saturday, "we felt like he could give us a little different dynamic."
Auburn ran just 45 plays, and that left its defense on the field for 40 minutes.
"They were on the field the whole game," Franklin said. "As a man, you've got to look at yourself in the mirror and get the job done on offense. The defense is going to get tired. They're going to give up points like that."
Franklin said he hopes to get an opportunity to pass more moving forward. Either way, he says he'll be on call for the bowl game.
"Whichever way they want to go with it I'll be right behind it," Franklin said. "I'm going to trust our coaches to make the best decision for our team. That's how we're going to do it."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine