The Auburn Tigers (5-1, 2-1) have a legitimate backup QB in freshman Jeremy Johnson. He passed for 201 yards and four touchdowns in his college debut, and leading Auburn to a school-record 712 total yards in a 62-3 rout of Western Carolina last week. It bears mentioning that the Catamounts have now lost 32-straight to FBS and FCS teams, but Johnson picked apart the defense, completing 17-of-21 passes before leaving midway through the third quarter.
A four-star recruit and Alabama’s Mr. Football, the 6-foot-5, 219-pounder had been a candidate for a redshirt year before getting called into action over Jonathan Wallace, who started the last four games of 2012. Johnson’s debut provided the only drama for a game in which Auburn had already scored four touchdowns just over a minute into the second quarter. The Tigers ran for 511 yards on 43 carries and had 30 first downs to six for Western Carolina.
In fact, the offensive explosion was so thorough that eight different players scored a touchdown – Tre Mason, Corey Grant, Cameron Artis-Payne, Ricardo Louis, Quan Bray, Jay Prosch, Tony Stevens and Johnathan Ford.
Auburn’s No. 1 QB Nick Marshall, who missed the game to rest a knee injury he suffered two weeks ago against Ole Miss, was available in an emergency role, but obviously was not needed Saturday. As of Tuesday, Marshall has been practicing at full-speed and is expected to start this weekend.
What to look for in Week 8: Just how far have the Tigers come in a year? Auburn is obviously much improved since last year’s 3-9 debacle, but just how much better we’re not really sure. This week’s game at No. 7 Texas A&M will be a great measuring stick. Last season, the Aggies demolished Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium 63-21. The Tigers allowed the most yards by an opponent in school history (671) and the loss tied for Auburn’s worst-ever home loss (42 points).
In the only other road game this season against a ranked opponent, Auburn fell to No. 6 LSU 35-21. After falling behind 21-0, the Tigers fought back hard and nearly made things interesting in the end. We’ll find out this week if Auburn has improved enough to not only be competitive but knock off a top-tier SEC team on the road.