April 5, 2014
Jeremy Johnson is ready in Auburn's spring (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Jeremy Johnson throws a football, as one teammate said this spring, a hundred miles an hour.
He continues to work on the rest of his game this spring, namely running Gus Malzahn's zone-read running game to parallel the one that starting quarterback Nick Marshall thrived in last season. That was the theme, at least for a moment, in Saturday's scrimmage.
"I'm getting better every day. I watch film. I'm practicing on carrying out my fake," Johnson said.
Marshall rushed for more than a 1,000 yards and passed for 1,976 more last season. Johnson rushed for 47 yards and passed for 422. Johnson's big day came against Western Carolina when he threw for four TDs and 201 yards. Two weeks later, he threw for two more touchdowns against Florida Atlantic.
It is Marshall who has won praise, and praise again, from his teammates this spring. "His throwing game has increased from here to here, and he's getting better every day," Johnson said.
But Johnson, too, has been steady progress with offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, says Malzahn.
"Jeremy is doing a solid job. He's right there with Nick," he said. "Coach Lashlee has done a good job of kind of mixing and matching and putting Jeremy in with the first group, too. He's a very confident young man. I've been very proud of him in his approach."
"I'm still a freshman," Johnson said, "still learning and becoming more vocal and just taking responsibilities and being a man."
Defensive back Jermaine Whitehead says keep an eye on Johnson.
"He's way faster than you would think, he's way smarter with the zone-read because he knows how to get to the edge," Whitehead said. "He uses his body, his length, to his advantage. He steps around a lot of guys; I've seen him make some steps around our D-ends that were pretty spectacular."
Johnson said his approach has been to gain confidence.
"I've gotten better mentally, physically and that comes with Coach Lashlee getting me prepared every day. I'm just approaching it like I'm the starter," Johnson said.
Johnson said he's also learned from Marshall, both physically and mentally.
"Just watching the zone-read, watching him do his reads and progressions on his passes and just learning," Johnson said.
Johnson has also watched Marshall's "leadership, because he's a great person on the field and off the field.
"He's even gotten better as an overall player and we are all just coming together, we're learning and teaching each other. So far Nick is having a good spring."
The receiving corps seems to have made a move, too, particularly with the addition of junior college transfer Duke Williams.
"We've got more depth and we've got a lot of experience coming back," Johnson said. "I've got a lot of confidence in guys. They've got a lot of confidence in me. We're still learning each other and we're all still trying to get on the same page.
"Duke is a great receiver. All you've got to do is give him a chance and he can make a lot of plays. He's physical enough and he's got strong hands, he's got a big body and he's a phenomenal player."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine