Auburn’s White faces Mississippi State in rematch of debut
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – Sean White is still an efficient passer who avoids major blunders, just like in his college debut last season against Mississippi State.
Auburn’s sophomore quarterback also has some of the same issues in finishing drives with seven points instead of three.
White made his first start for the Tigers in last season’s meeting with a solid stat line that didn’t produce any touchdowns in a 17-9 loss .
Scoring touchdowns remains a challenge against Power Five conference defenses leading up to Saturday’s rematch in Starkville, Mississippi. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn thinks White has come a long way from that first game when he got the start over a struggling Jeremy Johnson.
“He was still finding out about himself in college,” Malzahn said. “We were still finding out about him when he made his first start last year against this group. I thought he did some really good things. He’s a gutty guy. Just the experience factor of being able to run the offense, run the complete offense, I think that’s probably the biggest factor.”
White ranks third in the SEC in passing efficiency and has thrown 99 consecutive passes without an interception. All five of his touchdowns have come against Sun Belt Conference defenses, though. He was held to 140 yards against Clemson and threw his lone interception, then passed for just 126 yards on 18 completions against Texas A&M.
White was better in a win over LSU. He threw for 234 yards, but Auburn settled for six field goals in an 18-13 win . Mississippi State limited White and the Tigers to three field goals a year ago when he was a solid 20 for 28 passing for 188 yards.
He has 10 more starts since then, going into Auburn’s first road game of the season. White has also connected downfield more, throwing completions of 20-plus yards to eight different receivers.
“I think I’m a lot different,” White said. “Obviously I think there’s so much more experience under my belt, playing in a lot of SEC games, playing in a lot of games and I think that will help me as far as being more comfortable and going on the road in a tough environment.”
White’s the unquestioned leader of the offense now, but backup John Franklin III has also played in the last four games. Franklin is more the runner, with 203 yards on just 16 carries.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen does think White can get yards on the ground when Auburn needs them.
“They have been able to put together some of the things he does well and been able to execute good decision-making to make him an accurate passer, very willing runner,” Mullen said. “(He) may not be the game breaker that some guys are.
“Auburn reminds me a lot of how Dak Prescott was a runner for us. He is going to go get you some tough, gritty yards when he needs to and can extend plays and make things happen with his legs when he needs to.”
AP Sports Writer David Brandt in Mississippi contributed to this report.
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