Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said after the Tigers’ 62-3 win over Western Carolina that Nick Marshall is the starting quarterback.
“I’m going to make this clear: Nick Marshall’s our starting quarterback,” Malzahn said in his post-game press conference. (h/t to Joel Erickson with al.com.) “At the same time, Jeremy (Johnson) is going to be a factor going forward.”
Malzahn also said he is hoping to have Marshall available for next week’s game at Texas A&M. Malzahn’s statements on Marshall and Johnson seem to indicate that Marshall is “the starter,” but Johnson will play. It will be interesting to see how Malzahn utilizes each and how much of a two-quarterback system Auburn uses during the second half of the season.
Johnson finished the glorified scrimmage 17-for-21 for 201 yards, 4 TDs and an INT. He also ran three times for 26 yards.
Marshall led the Tigers to the 4-1 start. He has thrown for 902 yards, 4 TDs and 4 INTs on 71-of-120 passing.
Malzahn’s decision to start the true freshman Johnson, who previously had not played in a game, captured attention because Johnson seemed destined to redshirt in 2013.
Instead, Johnson made his first collegiate start, driving speculation that perhaps the knee injury Marshall suffered during the fourth quarter of the Ole Miss game was more significant than initially thought. Johnson’s debut also drew questions about whether the coaches had simply decided to turn to the true freshman as the starter.
Malzahn directly answered to the primary point, making it perfectly clear that he considers Marshall the team’s QB1. It remains to be seen how the Tigers will utilize both Marshall and Johnson, who shined in his first game — albeit against a woefully overmatched foe.