Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee knows the hand that he has been dealt this fall. He’s got a senior quarterback in Nick Marshall that was :13 seconds away from bringing a national championship to Auburn last year. He’s also got Jeremy Johnson, a big-armed, sophomore quarterback, whose only extensive college experience has come against Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic.

Due to Marshall’s run-in with the law this summer, head coach Gus Malzahn has anointed Johnson the starter for the season-opener. Sometimes season-openers come against the likes of a Western Carolina or a Florida Atlantic to which would be a benefit to Johnson. This year’s opener is against Arkansas. While the Hogs are projected to finish near the bottom of the SEC West, they are certainly a couple of notches above the Catamounts and Owls.

Lashlee is looking for Johnson to take the next step in his development between now and Aug. 30.

“(He’s) at that point where you have got to get over the hump,” Lashlee said after Monday’s practice. “I really hope that between now and the end of fall camp he can do that. It is the time to take the next step in the maturation process which is everything from leadership, to knowing the offense, to execution, to the way you are in meetings. I think he is getting there.”

Getting Johnson ready for Arkansas – whether it be for a series, a half or an entire game – is the furthest thing from Lashlee’s mind at this point.

“I didn’t even tell him he’s starting,” said Lashlee. “So I don’t know if…I hadn’t said that (he is starting). I’ve coached him like I would if he was the starter, if he was the last string guy. I mean just trying to make him better. We haven’t gone there. We are just in Day 4 of fall camp. So that is way, way too far out.”

Other Tuesday practice notes:

  • Bulked Up: Lashlee said that both Marshall and Johnson added weight over the summer as prescribed by strength coach Ryan Russell. Lashlee estimated that Marshall gained about 10 to 12 pounds and was in the vicinity of 212 to 215 pounds. Johnson was up to approximately 228 pounds, 10 pounds more than he was during spring practice.
  • Accurate Marshall: During Day 2 of practice Marshall was particularly precise with his throws. Lashlee said Marshall was 15-of-17 during 7-on-7 drills.
  • Freshman Update: Quarterback Sean White’s “head has been spinning” but Lashlee sees “the calm and poise you want a quarterback to have” in White. Lashlee emphasized how much he like the size and athleticism of running back Kamryn Pettway. Nicknamed “Bubba” by coach Tim Horton, Pettway weighs 239 pounds. Offensive lineman Braden Smith is called ‘Drago’ by his teammates but Lashlee calls him ‘Hulk’. “He’s got a chance to really help us.,” Lashlee said of Smith, who is listed at 6-foot-6, 299 pounds.