Oct. 11, 2013
Auburn's Jeremy Johnson will take his passing game to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday (Todd Van Esmt photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Jeremy Johnson will make his college debut as Auburn's starting quarterback Saturday when the Tigers take the redshirt off their talented freshman in the sixth game of the season.
Coach Gus Malzahn announced Friday that Johnson will start against Western Carolina in the 1 p.m. homecoming game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Johnson is starting in place of Nick Marshall, who started the first five games but hurt his knee in the fourth quarter of last week's win over Ole Miss. Marshall finished that game and was at practice this week, though Malzahn said Johnson and backup Jonathan Wallace took most of the snaps.
"Nick Marshall is not 100 percent so we are going with Jeremy Johnson at QB tomorrow. Have a lot of confidence in him and he is well prepared," Malzahn tweeted after the team left the athletic complex.
Malzahn said Marshall has made steady improvement with the injury, adding his quarterback "would definitely be OK." Marshall seemed to be walking fine as he left the athletic complex. But the Tigers are taking a cautious approach with the quarterback that led Auburn to a 4-1 start. Marshall is taking a break after hitting 71-of-120 passes for 902 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for 288 yards, the second highest total of the season.
Johnson will be fourth true freshman quarterback to start a game for Auburn since 1998. Gabe Gross did it in 1998, Kodi Burns in 2007 and Wallace last season. Three redshirt freshmen have started in that time: Jeff Klein in 1999, Jason Campbell in 2001 and Blake Field in 2005.
Johnson was one of the prized players in Auburn's 2013 signing class. He was the State of Alabama's Mr. Football at Carver High School in Montgomery last season. He passed for 3,193 yards and 31 touchdowns last year. He also rushed for 705 yards and seven touchdowns.
He passed for more than 8,200 yards in his career at Carver and has continued to show off his big arm in Auburn practices.
Wallace, who started the final four games last year, appeared in the first two games this year, throwing two passes.
He didn't play until the fourth game last year and didn't throw a pass until Game 7. But he started the final four games, compiling a 2-2 record. He set an Auburn freshman record for passing efficiency when he 46-of-80 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions.
Video: Watch Auburn — including Nick Marshall — leave the athletic complex Friday:
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine