by: Rick Palmeda Oct 15th, 2013
On Saturday we witnessed the burning of the redshirt. Yes, Coach Gus Malzhan decided to start freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson in the place of injured starter Nick Marshall. And I've been reading on message boards since then questioning Gus' decision. Was it the right decision? Was it the wrong one? I guess if you trust our coaches the answer is yes.
Here's the thing. The opponent was Western Carolina (ummmm there's a North Carolina and a South Carolina. I'm pretty sure the state of West Carolina doesn't exist. But I digress) and Auburn could've beaten them with any other quarterback on the roster. (Or for that matter, any fan in the stands that wanted to hand off to our 3 outstanding running backs). Simply put, Auburn was, is, and always will be a far superior team than Western Carolina.
So the issue is WHY? Why did they burn the redshirt of one Jeremy Johnson. Well to me, the answer is simple. Jeremy is the second best quarterback on the team behind Nick. With Nick banged up it was a necessity to get Jeremy some real game reps at the position so just in case Nick can't go he will be ready. Let's face it, the WORST situation you could put a true freshman into would be to have him take his first collegiate snap on the road in an SEC game. That's what could've happened next Saturday against Texas A & M.
Jeremy Johnson got the start on Saturday. He played a complete game with just over 200 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Not bad for a true freshman. And for those gripping about the level of competition, his stats weren't bad if he was throwing against air. He throws a very nice deep ball as witnessed by the throw and catch with Ricardo Louis for a touchdown. He can put zip on the ball as shown on the pass to Quan Bray at the goal line. And he can put touch on it as he did on the touchdown to Jay Prosch.
When Saturday rolls around, if for some reason Mr. Marshall cannot go (fluid on the knee from a partial patellar tendon tear) Auburn will still be in good hands. With a start and a victory under his belt Jeremy Johnson has not only cemented himself as the number two quarterback on the roster but he has given Auburn fans a glimpse into the future. A "Cam-esque" glimpse that I know many liked to see. Should the need arise I believe this young man can and will get the job done. With Jeremy running the show in place of Nick we were fine. And should it be necessary again I am confident we will still be fine.
So now it's on to A&M. It has been announced that Nick will be back to lead the team. And I for one am happy to hear that. But I also know that there is a quality young man on the sidelines that is ready, well prepared, and well coached to take over when his number is called. Best of luck to all our players this week. Auburn puts its new found national ranking on the line against the 7th ranked Aggies. It will be a test to say the least. With two outstanding quarterbacks leading the way I think we may just find a way to win that one.
Let's go stop Johnny Football in his tracks!! Until next time,
War Damn Eagle!!