Auburn's Jeremy Johnson might get chance to seize the moment
Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson has yet to face the biggest challenge a back-up quarterback can experience. Getting thrown into a meaningful game at a moment’s notice because of an injury is truly baptism by fire. Much like 2013, there is a very good possibility that Johnson’s first action in 2014 could be planned in advance as well.
While appearing on ESPN’s Number Never Lie Monday, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said he’ll decide in a “short period of time” what disciplinary action he’ll hand out to starting quarterback Nick Marshall. Auburn begins fall camp in nine days. It has been 12 days since Marshall was issued a citation for marijuana possession. Making a decision just before the Tigers enter camp would seem to be beneficial on many fronts, particularly for Johnson if Malzahn decides he’s starting against Arkansas.
Last year Johnson’s 15 minutes of fame was orchestrated. He was tabbed the starter for the homecoming contest against Western Carolina. Johnson led Auburn to four touchdowns on their first four possessions. He displayed his passing ability completing 17-of-21 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 62-3 thrashing of the cupcake Catamounts. The only other time Johnson saw extensive action was with Auburn in complete control against another inferior opponent. With a 28-0 second quarter lead against Florida Atlantic, Johnson relived Nick Marshall of his duties and was 10-of-16 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Of course a homecoming contest verse Western Carolina and mop up duty against FAU isn’t nearly the same thing as a season opener against an SEC West opponent. Yet with 30 days of preparation, Johnson can get more than comfortable with the offense knowing he is the starter. Teammates and coaches will feel more certainty after an entire month working alongside the sophomore. Additionally, a decision made just prior to camp opening puts the Marshall incident behind Malzahn and the entire team.
If given the reigns of the offense – whether it is for a quarter, a half or the entire game verses the Razorbacks – Johnson has a tremendous opportunity in front of him. Malzahn has stressed in the offseason a need for Auburn to be more balanced and develop a consistent passing attack. Johnson can set the tone for the season by stepping into a critical situation and delivering.