Daily Focus: Why Sean White could struggle in Auburn’s up-tempo offense

Steve Palazzolo checks in on big-name QB competitions around the country.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Daily Focus: Why Sean White could struggle in Auburn’s up-tempo offense

Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest college football news and translate what it really means for each team involved.

More QB competition updates: As training camps wind down, QB competitions are being won across the nation, including a number that were announced earlier this week. Let’s take a look at the latest:

Sean White, Auburn

Head coach Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo offense works best with a mobile quarterback and that’s the reason transfer John Franklin III was believed to be the favorite for the starting job. He’s a more mobile option than White, but it was White who held him off — at least for now. White saw extensive time in six games last season, struggling for the most part with a strong game against Arkansas sprinkled in there in which he went 19-for-32 with six of those passes dropped and two more of them spiked (adjusted completion percentage of 83.3 percent for the game). Auburn needs more consistent week-to-week consistency from White in order to maximize their potential offensively.

Back to the running game, this is where Auburn suddenly has major question marks. Malzahn’s scheme puts the defense in a bind as the combination of tempo, using the quarterback as a designed runner, and misdirection in the backfield have generally led to a strong running game. But with top running back Jovon Robinson off the team, and White not nearly the same run threat as previous Malzahn quarterbacks, Auburn heads into the season with big question marks on the ground.

Auburn designed runs

While White’s numbers have been fine in his small sample size, the volume with which Auburn used him as a runner was much less than what they got out of Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall. Will Auburn still look to get either Franklin or Johnson on the field in certain packages? Will they be able to find a productive running back? The Auburn offense may have to get as creative as ever this fall.

Kenny Hill, TCU

It’s no surprise to see the Texas A&M transfer win the job as we pegged him as one of the top transfer quarterbacks in the country. He had some success early on in 2014 with the Aggies, moving around the pocket and finding open receivers, and he could put up big numbers in TCU’s offense. Even though the Horned Frogs lose two of their top receivers in Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee, they have young playmakers poised to break out and Hill is equipped to distribute the ball.

Bart Houston, Wisconsin

We’ve seen only 159 snaps of Houston in our two years of grading so the sample is far too small to draw many conclusions. We did see him come in for 33 attempts against Illinois in relief of QB Joel Stave, and the results were mixed. Houston had a number of impressive tight-window throws, but he offset them with multiple poor throws into coverage including a late-game prayer for an interception in the end zone. He finished with an average grade for the game and if there’s one thing that was evident, it’s the need for Houston to work on his touch as he has a good arm but nearly all of his passes were thrown on a line.

Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech

A junior college transfer, we don’t have any data on Evans, but he’s walking into a good situation at Virginia Tech. New head coach Justin Fuente comes over from Memphis where he just developed first round quarterback Paxton Lynch, so that’s a good start. Evans is also fortunate enough to have wide receiver Isaiah Ford and tight end Bucky Hodges as two of his top targets, both of whom earned PFF preseason All-ACC honors. If Evans can live up to the hype, the Hokies are a quietly dangerous team in the ACC.

PFF College’s top links

As we ramp up for the season, a few important links to keep handy:

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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