Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson has thrown three first-half TDs in his first career start. The Tigers are crushing Western Carolina at halftime. Credit: Todd Van Emst - Auburn University

Auburn Starts Johnson At QB Against Western Carolina

Has the Jeremy Johnson era started at Auburn?

QB Nick Marshall, who injured his knee at the end of last week’s win over Ole Miss, didn’t practice this week and couldn’t start on Saturday.

Marshall’s absence allowed Johnson, a true freshman, to make his first career start against Western Carolina.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said late in the week that Marshall’s injury is not serious.

Yet when it came time to pick a starting quarterback for this week, Malzahn chose Johnson over Jonathan Wallace.

That Johnson is relevant for a couple reasons. For one, Johnson hadn’t played this season. When Auburn found itself in garbage time, Wallace took over to run the offense. Through the first half of the season, Johnson taking a redshirt seemed likely.

Many college programs have a standing setup where if the QB1 gets injured and it has a talented true freshman, the backup plays only if the injury is short-term. If the QB1 will miss significant time, though, the coaching staff turns to the true freshman and abandons the plan to redshirt him.

So the question again comes down to this: Is Marshall still the guy at Auburn and the coaches simply wanted to get Johnson some experience? Or are the coaches not convinced Marshall is their quarterback – either because of play or injury?

Johnson has looked comfortable in the pocket. Closing in on halftime, Johnson has completed 13 of 17 attempts for 183 yards, 3 TDs and an INT.

Auburn leads Western Carolina 42-3 with 1:42 remaining in the half.

Tags: Auburn Tigers SEC

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