- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - The Auburn Tigers have far more concerns than beating the latest pre-Iron Bowl FCS opponent.

The 18th-ranked Tigers go into Saturday night’s game against Alabama A&M; without quarterback Sean White and tailback Kamryn Pettway, among other injury issues.

That probably won’t matter much in the outcome of this game for the Tigers (7-3) against the Bulldogs (4-6) but the uncertainty could linger into the Iron Bowl against No. 1 Alabama.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said on his weekly radio show Thursday night that he’ll start senior Jeremy Johnson, who hasn’t thrown a pass since the opening game against Clemson. Johnson opened last season as the starter.

White passed for just 27 yards in last week’s loss to Georgia, when he aggravated a right (throwing) shoulder injury. That combined with some dropped passes and the absence of the Southeastern Conference’s leading rusher Pettway led to a miserable offensive outing.

Pettway remains out with a left leg injury. The big question mark is the status of White and Pettway for the Iron Bowl.

“It’s got to be the next man up mentality,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said.

But questions abound about the next man at tailback and quarterback, too. QB John Franklin III, who has been the backup all season, is a dynamic runner but has only passed for 94 yards all season. Johnson struggled with mistakes and decision-making last season.

At tailback, No. 2 rusher Kerryon Johnson has been playing through an ankle injury and Stanton Truitt (ankle) is out, along with H-back Chandler Cox (leg). Freshman Malik Miller returned to practice this week after missing the last five games with a knee injury, though it’s not assured that he’ll be ready to go.

Starting safety Johnathon Ford has been working at running back, where he had six carries for 73 yards against lesser competition as a freshman before moving to defense fulltime.

Punt returner/receiver Marcus Davis is also out for the final two games with a shoulder injury.


Some other things to look for in the Alabama A&M-Auburn; game:

WHO’S THE QB: White was the SEC’s highest rated passer entering the Georgia game. Johnson is also mostly a dropback passer while any game plan with Franklin would likely include a number of zone read plays and designed QB runs. It could be a chance to play both and sort out the Iron Bowl starter if White’s not healthy.

KERRYON’S CARRIES: Malzahn indicated early in the week that the ideal scenario might be to rest Kerryon Johnson, too, but he might not have that luxury. The tailback has played in the past three games after sitting out against Arkansas.” But at the same time we need to win this game, too,” Malzahn said, “so I’m not ready to make a call on that right now.”

SENIOR SENDOFF: It’s the final home game for a group of seniors that includes Ford, guard Alex Kozan, cornerback Joshua Holsey, right tackle Robert Leff, punter Kevin Phillips and wide receiver Tony Stevens.

COWART’S OUT: This would have been a good time for backups like defensive end Byron Cowart to log some extra snaps. But the former top recruit is recovering from an emergency appendectomy he underwent on Wednesday.

FULLER’S HOUSE: Bulldogs assistant head coach Andy Fuller was an All-Southeastern Conference tight end for the Tigers and a member of the 1993 undefeated Auburn team. He was also on the Alabama A&M; staff in 2012, the teams’ only other meeting.


More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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