Auburn turned to true freshman Jeremy Johnson in place of the injured Nick Marshall for the Tiger’s game over FCS opponent Western Carolina, and he passed his first test with flying colors.
The reigning Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball in the state of Alabama made his first career start for the injured Marshall, who was out with a knee injury, and completed 17 of his 21 pass attempts for 201 yards and four touchdowns as Auburn set a school record with 712 total yards.
The plan this season after Marshall won the starting spot was for Johnson to redshirt and have Johnathan Wallace serve as the backup, but Johnson gave up that opportunity to lead the Tigers today. However, that may be the last start he makes this season barring another injury to Marshall, as head coach Gus Malzahn was quick to confirm.
“I want to make this clear,” Malzahn tells Al.com. “Nick Marshall is our starting quarterback. When Nick is 100 percent, he will be back. We feel very good about Jeremy and it was great to get him some in-game experience.”
Malzahn shouldn’t think about starting Johnson over Marshall because it was against an FCS opponent, and Marshall has played well this season. Although Malzahn did his best to turn down any potential talk of a quarterback controversy on the Plains, it did show that Auburn has two capable signal-callers.
That is a far cry from the Auburn team of a year ago who trotted out three different quarterbacks in a miserable season in 2012. The hiring of Malzahn has already produced two potentially great quarterbacks and two top recruits in Sean White and Tyler Queen.
Johnson may not be the quarterback of the future for Auburn, but that’s fine with him because he showed today he is the quarterback of the future.
“Whatever I can help the team doing, that’s what I’m doing,” Johnson tells Al.com. “I’m not looking forward to trying to compete for the job because he’s the starter.”