Jeremy Johnson lasted just three inconsistent games as the starting quarterback at Auburn, at least for now. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Sean White would start for the Tigers against Mississippi State on Saturday, but that the position would be subject to a continuing evaluation.
"Any time you change quarterbacks, it's not an easy decision," Malzahn said on Tuesday, per the Alabama Media Group. "I feel like (White) needs a shot right now. ... He's our starting quarterback going into this game. We'll get behind him and I know his teammates will also. He's a talented young guy. We're excited to see what he can do."
Johnson threw six interceptions and took five sacks in three starts for Auburn (2-1), and showed no significant improvement in a 45-21 loss to LSU on Saturday in Auburn's SEC opener. He threw for just 100 yards and looked confused and uncertain for most of the game. White (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) is a redshirt freshman who will throw his first college pass opposite the top quarterback in the SEC on Saturday, Mississippi State's Dak Prescott.
For Johnson, Malzahn's decision allows the junior to rediscover the comfort level he showed as a successful sophomore backup to Nick Marshall last year, without the weekly pressure of keeping Auburn alive in a highly competitive SEC West race. He completed 28 of 37 passes without an interception in 2014, but didn't show a starter's confidence this year and threw three interceptions against Louisville in Auburn's opener.
If White falters, Johnson's next opportunity could come sooner rather than later.
Malzahn also announced that defensive end Carl Lawson, a preseason All-SEC pick, will miss an "extended period of time" with a hip injury. Malzahn said he is hopeful the third-year sophomore can return before the end of the season, which by extension suggests he might not. In a worst-case scenario, Lawson could go two entire seasons with only one game played. He missed all of 2014 with a knee injury, and played well against Louisville in the season opener (two tackles for loss) before being sidelined with the hip issue.