Oct. 14, 2013
Auburn's Jeremy Johnson looking good as the SEC freshman of the week (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson didn't disappoint in his long-awaited college debut, lighting up Western Carolina with four touchdown passes and making it easy day for the Tigers at homecoming Saturday.
The Southeastern Conference noticed. He was named the league's Freshman of the Week by the conference office Monday.
Johnson, who didn't play in the first five games, hit 17-of-21 passes for 201 yards in the first 2½ quarters of the sixth game of the season, that coming in a start in Saturday's 62-3 win over the Catamounts.
"I enjoyed every bit of it. You never know when the opportunity comes," Johnson said immediately after the game.
Johnson may give away, again, to Nick Marshall, Auburn's starter in the first give games. Marshall didn't play last Saturday because of a knee injury, but coaches predict he'll be ready to go when Auburn travels to Texas A&M on Saturday in a battle of Top 25 teams.
The league's offensive player of the week? Auburn's next challenge: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who helped the Aggies take a wild 45-38 win over Ole Miss on Saturday by hitting 31-of-39 passes for 346 yards and running for another 113.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says his new playing quarterback, Jeremy Johnson, will have a role in his offense no matter what.
"We felt like the way the situation unfolded, it was a good game to let him play," Lashlee said Sunday. "Nick is our starter and we’ve got full confidence in him. He’s gotten better each week. Our team has full confidence in him and believes in him. But they also know if Jeremy comes in there, we’re in good shape.
"It wasn’t just for one game. He’s got to be ready as the backup and he’s also got to be ready, maybe, in other unique roles and situations."
And now he has experience.
"We just felt like it was best for our team this year, and, really, it was best for Jeremy to get some game experience to be able to help us, not only the rest of the year this year, but in the future," Lashlee said.
Lashlee said he is happy Johnson's "first meaningful reps" will "not be at College Station or somewhere like that."
The league's other weekly award winners are Missouri linebacker Kentrell Brothers, the top defensive player; Arkansas punter Sam Irwin-Hill, the top special teams player; Alabama guard Anthony Steen, the top offensive lineman; and end Danielle Hunter, the top defensive lineman.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine