Sure, it was against Western Carolina, but true freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson was able to match regular starter Nick Marshall’s passing touchdown total (4) for the season in a little more than one half of play. The heralded young signal caller who battled Marshall throughout fall camp led the Tigers to a 62-3 victory over the Catamounts.
With Johnson’s stellar performance against lowly Western Carolina, the Auburn Tigers may have a quarterback controversy on their hands as they head into their matchup against the Texas A&M Aggies.
Marshall, who was injured in the final minutes of last week’s contest against Ole Miss to pave the way for Johnson’s start, has been solid if erratic for the Tigers. Still, Johnson was highly efficient (17-21) with 201 passing yards and four touchdowns, showing a better grasp of the passing game in limited action than the junior college transfer has shown this season
While Johnson stole the headlines, there were plenty of offensive standouts in the Auburn. Young receivers Ricardo Louis, Tony Stevens, and Melvin Ray stood out, while the Tigers’ vaunted “three headed monster” at running back (Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Corey Grant) each rushed for about 100 yards with more than 16 yards per carry. Louis and true freshman cornerback Jonathan Ford also each had long runs for Auburn.
Moving forward, the 5-1 (2-1 in the SEC) Tigers, coming off a 3-9 season in which they were winless against SEC competition a year ago, are a win away from being bowl eligible. However, they will be underdogs as they face the Aggies on Saturday. What remains unclear is whether Johnson’s initial start will lead to a long-term change beginning with a second start over a likely healthy Marshall next week.