Aug. 17, 2014
Jeremy Johnson shows off his passing arm
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ¯ Jeremy Johnson says he doesn't know when he'll see his first action this season, but the Auburn quarterback does know this:
"If I'm called upon, I'll be ready," he says.
The sophomore was Auburn's backup quarterback last season, though he started one game when Nick Marshall was hurt and played most of another because of the same reason. All Johnson did in those two games was win SEC freshman of the week honors, and all Auburn players have said this preseason is that Johnson could be starting for most, if not all, the other schools in the SEC.
He could see early action in Auburn's opener against Arkansas on Aug. 30 if Marshall is held out early in the game. Johnson says he'll be ready for action either way.
"I'm very confident and I know team's confidence in me and I know they have my back," Johnson said.
Johnson came to Auburn with the reputation as a big-time passer. Auburn mostly ran last season with Marshall running the zone read for huge yardage. Now, Johnson says he's more efficient running the zone read and Marshall has been working on his passing in preseason work.
They've been doing it together.
"Nick helped me in many ways," Johnson said. "He's the one who always just pick me up when I have a rough day and when it comes to zone read, he tells me how to do, what to do, who to read and he does a great job with helping me."
Johnson says he's been working on the zone run, and his passing, especially the three-step drop, in fall camp. His conclusion? He's more comfortable running the offense in his second year.
"I've been hitting more check-downs and calling the right protections and getting everybody in the right position," he said.
"It's timing throws, and if you are a fraction late, the ball is going to get picked or a linebacker can deflect the ball. That's all I've been working on this fall camp."
Johnson played in six games last year, hitting 29-of-41 passes for 422 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 47 yards.
Marshall, even Johnson has conceded, is the better runner. But Johnson said he's more comfortable running the inside zone, so he's been working on the outside zone to spring big runs around the corner. Johnson said that's "what I’ve been working on all spring and fall camp, it won’t be a big deal.
"They’ve got packages for me, so whenever it’s my time to go in on a certain package or a certain play, I’m going to make the best of it. If it calls for a zone read, I can do it perfectly fine."
Johnson can pass and is working on the zone read. But there's more to it. He says he has to be a vocal leader.
"It's just something I never was really doing growing up: being vocal. I just lead by showing an example," Johnson said. "Being vocal helps the team a lot because people are kind of dragging through practice and they hear the quarterback's voice. They start picking it up. That's really what I've been working on."
And so Johnson moves to his second season-opener.
"I’m really not going to be nervous," Johnson said. "It’s just football is football. I’m a football player. That’s why I’m here. I’m really not going to be nervous."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine