OXNARD, Calif. – Mike White has three offensive coaches who have been in his exact position: a backup quarterback getting his first game snaps in nearly an entire calendar year.
After such a long wait, last Saturday's preseason opener against San Francisco didn't go as planned.
The key is how last year's fifth-round draft pick responds.
"Kit (quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna) and (offensive coordinator) Kellen (Moore) and JG (head coach) Jason (Garrett) kind of hinted that to me, is it happens," White said Monday. "You can't skip steps in this league. Everyone goes through their learning curves and their experiences.
"So that's what I'm treating this game as and just moving forward and knowing that I'm better than what I put on the field the last game."
White took over for starter Dak Prescott and fellow backup Cooper Rush in the third quarter of Saturday's 17-9 defeat. He played the final six drives, completing 9 of 20 passes for 87 yards for a 57.7 rating.
He was sacked on each of his first three series and fumbled twice, losing one that led to a 49ers field goal.
"Mike White probably had the roughest outing of the group," Garrett said. "The ball was on the ground a couple of times, some decision making probably not as clean as it needed to be, some technique stuff. But again, a great learning experience for him, too. He hasn't played a lot of football.
"That is what these games are all about, you come back and you look at it, why were you going there, what were you doing here, you process that, you learn from it and you put it behind you."
Garrett was encouraged by White's final series, when he drove the offense 89 yards to the 49ers' 4-yard line and the brink of a potential game-tying situation down eight points. San Francisco forced four straight incomplete passes to seal the win, but overall White managed the clock well in a two-minute situation that the team has simulated here in Oxnard.
"There was some good and there was some bad, just like any game," White said. "It might be more bad than good, but a lot of learning experience. And that's part of being a young guy."
It remains to be seen if the Cowboys keep both backups on the roster for a second straight season. Rush had the edge in the first game. White believes he's got more to offer than the tape from Saturday showed.
"These next three games is what I'm going to use to prove it," he said.