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Sorry, but I don’t think Sean White is the guy.

By on September 29th, 2015 in Member Post 21 Comments »
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USA TODAY Sports

For all the disappointment and consternation regarding the game on Saturday, it was fairly unanimous in the opinion class that Sean White did a good job in his first start. Yes, he made some mistakes, but he looked fairly comfortable running the offense between the twenties. To that I say, “Wow, we certainly have low expectations after the drubbing in the Bayou.” Don’t get me wrong, Sean did an OK job. He proved he could keep the ball for a decent run when nobody was expecting him to keep it. He managed to hand the ball off well to the RB’s and hit most of his WR’s on short passing attempts. But let’s make no mistake, Sean White is not ready to lead an SEC football team… not to wins, anyway.

Some may think that is an unfair assessment, but the reason we played Sean in the first  place was to seek an UPGRADE at the position. The thinking, or my thinking at least, was give the backup a chance to see if he could come in and produce where JJ was failing, to provide a spark and show that he was a better option going forward. In that respect Sean didn’t do the job. He may have gotten us into the red zone four times, but he didn’t get us in the end zone once.

Would Jeremy Johnson have done a better job? I don’t know, but based on what we saw in the second half at LSU, when Gus had JJ become a part of the running game, the offense was much more dynamic with JJ. Despite his success running on Saturday, Sean is not going to be a part of the running game unless he gets ignored, as he was until he burned the defense a couple of times. Once defensive end’s stay at home and check him for the ball, his threat of running the ball is over, i.e.  he’s not going to run any QB draws for 65-yard touchdowns… ever.

As for the passing game, he was adequate. He got away with a few bad passes and got let down by some drops, but my main concern is that he did not or was not allowed to challenge the Bulldog defense downfield. What happened to the wheel route or the fly? You have to stretch the field if you want the running game to have any breathing room. Sean was fairly efficient between the 20’s but there is nothing about the way he threw the ball Saturday night, that would lead me to believe he can convert a corner fade or drop a pass to a Melvin Ray in the back of the end zone over the heads of  two or three defenders, which is what you are going to have to be able to do to score inside the ten when the field is compressed.

Sean has plenty of arm and can sling it with the best of them, but he didn’t show me that he had much touch to make a pass when there wasn’t a direct line between him and the receiver. If anything he threw the ball too hard. Brandon Cox, he is not, but he also isn’t Stan White either. These were issues that Nick Marshall had most of 2013, but that didn’t hurt him too much due to the fact that his main weapon was his legs. Sean will have to find some touch or finesse if he is going to be the QB going forward.

So the question is …

Now that he season is ostensibly over, all we are playing for is pride, a winning record and a trip to a meaningless bowl, whom do we get behind to prepare  for next year? Who has the most potential? Who can put us in the best position to be successful and make a run in 2016? To me, it’s Jeremy Johnson. I know Jeremy has been AWFUL, but the offense looked much more like a Guz Malzahn offense when JJ was allowed to start running the ball and not just sitting back in the pocket staring a hole through his intended receiver.

JJ IS a threat to run and thus has to be game planned for.

You saw what Mullen did when he came into the game on 3rd and 1 at the goal line. He called a timeout and reset his offense to account for JJ running it. He wasn’t concerned at all about Sean running the ball. For what it’s worth, I thought that was the correct call by Gus, and he should have stuck with it instead of playing chess with Mullen and going back to Sean. The hole that JJ walked through behind Braden Smith was big enough for a Denali to drive through, and I think that would work against all but the most stout defenses. It was one of the few times Gus dialed up the right play at the right time and he blinked when Mullen called the time out. Gus has been his own worst enemy this year and is probably at fault for how poorly the QB position has looked simply because he isn’t putting them in a position to succeed by calling the right plays at the right time.

For instance, the other night on 3rd and 20 deep in our own territory, Gus dials up a play action/statue of liberty play which is quickly snuffed out by an MSU blitz. Is that what you call on 3rd and 20 with an inexperienced QB? What defense is falling for a play fake?  They know you aren’t running the ball when you need 20 yards for a first down! So Sean got fed to the wolves. This has been common this year in the play calling. Gus just doesn’t seem to be thinking beyond what play will get him the yardage he needs. He doesn’t seem to be anticipating what the defense is going to do to defend and take away the most likely option to get those yards. Time and again, Gus has been outschemed and outcoached. That being said, I don’t want any heads, but I do think it’s time to open the playbook, run the plays you need to run, and sink or swim with the consequences.

All that being said, I think Jeremy Johnson is the guy that gives us the best chance to be successful in that scenario.

JJ has all the physical tools and talent to do the job, and he can run most of , if not the whole, playbook. What JJ lacks is experience and the confidence that experience provides. Has he made terrible, stupid mistakes? Yes, and lots of them. But so did Jason Campbell before 2004, and the two are very similar athletes. JJ is just one of those guys who is going to have to have some success to become the type of player he is capable of.  Will he have any success against the like of San Jose St, Arkansas, or Kentucky? I don’t know. It kind of depends on how Gus game plans.

All I know is that from what I’ve seen of the two QB’s, I think JJ has the potential to bring home wins in those games. Sean would have to rely on the defense shutting down the other team for him to win those games, which I think is a bit much to ask at this point. Sean is a prototypical caretaker QB, the guy you ask to hand the ball off, make passes underneath the coverage and not make mistakes in the hopes the defense can keep the other team from scoring more points than you, a la Daniel Cobb or Brandon Cox.  

I don’t see Sean as the guy who is going to stretch the field and cause the opposing DC to lose sleep trying to game plan for what he can do.

Sean MAY develop into that guy eventually, but I didn’t see anything the other night that made me think, “Boy, all he needs is a few starts under his belt, and we’ve got a chance against UGA and Bama at the end of the year.” He just doesn’t strike me as a guy who has a bag full of tools just waiting to be utilized. In essence he is a high-floor, low-ceiling talent.

For all of his faults, JJ has also made some outstanding plays, and after what I saw in Baton Rouge in the second half, I have hope that he is a guy who can eventually grow into the elite QB we were hoping he would be to start the season. He’s not there now, but Cam Newton isn’t on the sidelines, So, if I’m planning on being competitive by the end of the year and a contender next year, I have to put my faith in JJ and hope he progresses. If Sean White is my guy, I just have to realize that he is going to take me only so far, and I have to hope that the defense is going to get much better between now and next fall.

I’ve always felt it’s better to go with the high-ceiling guy and roll the dice. JJ is our one and only high-ceiling QB right now. We may have to suffer in the short term, but I think we will be better off in in the long term. Of course …

That’s just my opinion.

21 Comments

  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I think you make some good points, and that we’ll probably see JJ again this season. For one thing, White’s not going to survive taking dozens of hits per game. We’re not very good picking up blitzes, and every H-back/tight end we put out there is a freshman.

  2. AUNation AUNation says:

    I have been a Sean White fan ever since I followed his recruiting story. Kid is a winner and lives to defy the odds when everyone discounts him. Sounds a lot like a certain team I know. I think he did outstanding in his first start in an extremely high pressure situation and I am much more impressed with what he did against MSU than anything JJ has done all season, counting the trash time against LSU’s third string in the second half.

    Sean even ran the zone read better than JJ, making great decisions, and it became more effective after the defense realized he was an unexpected running threat. It may just be JJ’s size that makes it deceiving, but he does not look fast and DEFINITELY not quick. I think Sean did about as good as anyone could expect against a defense that was blitzing from a different position every play with a gameplan that apparently restricted him from any deep routes. Sean is our starting QB, at least for the foreseeable future, so how about we not rip him to shreds too?

    JJ earned a lot of his critique… 20 yard backwards fumbles and going colorblind when looking at the secondary will do that for you, but Sean has come in and played hard for us. If he is limited and can only develop into a game manager type, those people over in West Vance have correlated that type player into several NCs. We have supposed 4* talent all over our offense, maybe we just need someone to help them out and NOT lose the game for us. I’m on board.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      I like what I saw in Sean Saturday. And I like your point that he has a lot of talent around him and if he should wind-up being a game manager that a lot of teams have had success with game managing QB’s surrounded by 4 and 5 star players. Auburn could have a good year with someone that could run the offense and not make mistakes.

    • solomongrundy says:

      I’m with you. Ridiculous article.

    • solomongrundy says:

      Well said.

  3. Tiger4Life says:

    Col,
    You make excellent points…
    I liked Seans fire, and I like the way he led BUT I also liked JJ’s dominant first half performance last year against Arkansas (and all of his 2014 performance’s)…
    If Sean can lead us to the magic 30 ppg number and NOT turn the ball over, then we can roll with it til we get a better QB…If JJ gets a 2nd chance and does the same- great!
    Either way, we need to get back to competing for SEC championship level at EVERY POSITION ASAP!

  4. neonbets says:

    Colonel, you validated my opinion on this matter.

    I therefore declare that you have written one of the most intelligent and insightful pieces ever posted on TET.

    I know JJ was abysmal, but he’s a special talent.

    As an aside, here’s a crazy thought: Maybe Gus and Rhett have gone pedestrian with the play calling out of deference Mushchamp? The criticism against their uptempo brand of offense was that it was extremely difficult on the defense. Maybe they’ve slowed things down in an attempt to have a more balanced team. If so, I hope they shake this off and get back to their roots.

  5. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    I’m not smart enough to know whether Sean should be the starter the rest of the year or not and one game is not enough of a sample for me to form an opinion. But I do think you may be on to something regards Jeremy Johnson.

    There have been several struggling Auburn QB’s that have been set down over the years that made a great come back. Ben Leard was benched and later came back and was named All-SEC. And your comparison to Jason Campbell is a good analogy. I remember Jason had a lot of doubters but he wound-up leading the 2004 undefeated team and was a 1st round draft pick.

  6. solomongrundy says:

    Ridiculous article.

    Johnson is lost in the weeds. Can’t make his reads fast enough and can’t look off receivers. The QB position is cerebral, and he fails at this.

    Wishing for a JJ gimmick led offense is the path to failure. The league and the rest of college football has caught on with Gus’s offense and JJ. Sean is the answer to at least be competitive in 2015, unless you want to lead the league in backwards passing and picks.

  7. solomongrundy says:

    Nope. Realistic Barner.

  8. donnajoandmike84 says:

    Just my opinion but this is a horrible article. I think we all would hope that our bosses would not pass as quick judgement on our first day on the job. But I’m sure Gus and Rhett will take Col Angus thoughts into consideration.

  9. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Col., I see your points about JJ being a dynamic QB, and SW is more slow-sunday-drive…..but the thing that killed us with JJ at the helm were the insufferable, drive killing, Auburn defense tiring 3 and outs. I don’t have time to run down the stats, but with SW in the game, we at least have a shot of moving the ball. Additionally, I’m not unconvinced that the lack of conversion in the red zone wasn’t due to inexplicably goofy play calling. In retrospect, putting JJ in for that push forward into the end zone, was actually a good call–had Gustav followed through…..

    Your point about SW not having touch on the ball is noted. There were a few floatily lobbed balls that had me a bit scared….but at least he wasn’t doing something stupid like throwing it into triple coverage. It could be that SW knows that he’s not world beater–but that makes him work harder and therefore he is better respected on the field. JJ seems arrogant, with no actual basis to be arrogant. And I have a hard time granting JJ any slack for scoring in garbage time–there’s no pressure there. And it’s not so much that JJ can’t score when the game is on the line–he can’t even get a 3rd down to keep the drive moving to put us in the position to score…to me that’s the difference. But it sucks-because as you said, apples to apples, JJ is technically the more ‘exciting’ qb…….

  10. Older Whiskey says:

    I can’t agree with the Colonel either. I was encouraged by what I saw from Sean White. Obviously the coaches didn’t give him many downfield balls to throw. That seemed to be partly from a desire to build his confidence with easier throws, and partly due to the defense MSU was playing, mentioned several times by the announcers. To me, Sean looked much more poised and in control than Jeremy has.

    Some other things to note: We ran 78 plays in this game and held the ball 36 minutes. We also had more first downs, rushing yardage, and total yardage than the Bulldogs. We were arguably two plays away from winning the game. And lest we forget, MSU was kicking at a game-winning FG when their game with LSU ended.

  11. easyedwin easyedwin says:

    SW looked ok vs SJSU

  12. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    While i have been one of the biggest critics things on the plains really aren’t that bad. Considering. Did anyone watch football this weekend? Whatever Gustav and boy wonder decide… they better get it right. We can be the spoilers and if we are lucky thats what we are. Speaking for me, i am fine with that.

    That said, Muschamp must be flipping out – Florida is unbeaten? Really?

    That said I am pretty sure this staff gets rearranged next season. Say what you want that Gus is safe… maybe. But screw up rest of season and your epitaph is being written. JJ throws a pic or three… hope he is ready to take a lick!

    WDE

    Too bad they couldn’t figure it out with the three top 10 recruiting classes they pulled off.

    WDE

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      ……I slept in till 4 PM Saturday, unfortunately. I did get to see the tail end of UGA going down in Knoxville. (Chuckle!) Bama vs. Arky was super-boring.

      …..And Windows 8 doesn’t have solitaire! It’s sad when you have to install a VMWare XP virtual machine just to play solitaire during boring football games!

  13. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    Sean White is totally The Guy.

  14. benjig3 says:

    You sir are an idiot! Jeremy Johnson is a cancer to this team. Every time he gets in the game the team loses it’s ability to function.