SEC NOTEBOOK: Auburn to start new QB against Bulldogs

Published 12:00 pm Friday, September 25, 2015

After the drubbing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week, Auburn returns home to lick its wounds and try for its first win in the Southeastern Conference.

The Tigers’ opponent, Mississippi State, is also looking for its first SEC win after falling prey to LSU two weeks ago in Starkville.

After his rough outing at LSU, Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson has been benched in favor of redshirt freshman Sean White. It will be White’s first career start and will be against the Bulldogs’ front seven that includes the likes of Chris Jones.

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“This will be the second year in our system, and I think (White) feels more and more comfortable,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “The thing that stood out to us was his accuracy and how quickly he picked up the offense.”

Last week against LSU, Johnson completed 11 of 19 passes for 100 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Malzahn said Johnson will be the backup for White on Saturday.

Mississippi State will be looking at film from Auburn’s three games, but the Bulldogs will be looking at Johnson as the quarterback. Without any film of White under center, planning for him could pose a problem for the Bulldog defense.

Head coach Dan Mullen feels otherwise.

“It doesn’t change our game plan at all actually,” Mullen said. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect (Auburn), but for us, we are just going to go out and play hard.”

Battle in Dallas
Before the season began, this weekend’s matchup between Texas A&M and Arkansas taking place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, had the makings of two teams vying for the SEC West title.

Three weeks into the season, it’s a tale of two teams.

The Aggies, ranked No. 14, are undefeated and welcome an Arkansas team that is on the ropes after losses to Toledo and Texas Tech in consecutive weeks.

“We’re excited to start SEC play, to go into Cowboys Stadium,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. “We made some strides forward on Saturday in the red zone and to run the football.”

After a wild weekend — and a wild season for that matter — in the SEC, the preseason favorites of Alabama, Auburn and the Razorbacks are now looking up at LSU, Ole Miss and the Aggies. Texas A&M needs a victory to keep pace with the Rebels and Tigers in the race for the west crown.

Traveling Tigers
LSU will make the longest road trip in the SEC this weekend when they travel to Syracuse, New York, to take on the Orange inside the Carrier Dome Saturday morning.

After an easy conference win against Auburn last week, the Tigers are not rewarded with an easy non-conference opponent but instead have to go more than 1,400 miles to New York.

“We’re looking forward to traveling to the Northeast (at Syracuse) and a very competitive game,” LSU coach Les Miles said.

The Tiger defense will be going against Syracuse’s Zack Mahoney, the fifth-string-turned-starting quarterback. Mahoney became the staring quarterback just three weeks ago.

“We would guess that he can operate the Syracuse offense and all the best stuff that Syracuse has done will still be there,” Miles said of Mahoney. “So many times, the cream rises to the top.”