Jeremy Johnson's confidence grows at Auburn
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Quarterback Jeremy Johnson should be heading to the Iron Bowl with a little more bounce in his step after a win over Idaho on Saturday and an endorsement from offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on Sunday.
"I don't think he made one bad decision the whole game, so that says a lot about where he's come," Lashlee said. "They were doing a bunch of different things and blitzing different ways to try to stop things and he made some good decisions ― whether it be the run or the pass game ― every time. That's what we need first and foremost. I liked his demeanor."
Johnson threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in the 56-34 win over the Vandals, and the quarterback said he was confident throughout. The competition and the stakes will ramp up dramatically this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. when the Tigers meet Alabama in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Alabama is first in the Southeastern Conference in total defense, rushing defense, tied for first in scoring defense and is fifth in passing defense.
Johnson is enjoying a bounce-back second half of the season. He's started the last three games and has hit 40 of 58 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He also started the first three games and hit 53 of 72 passes for 473 yards for five touchdowns, but with six interceptions.
"In terms of taking care of the football and knowing where to go with it and having that level of confidence, I think he's better. I think he'd tell you that," Lashlee said.
"He's been really good the last three weeks. He stepped back and he was able to kind of regroup, and when he came back in he just kind of played. He's done a good job of allowing his teammates to help him; he's not trying to do anything by himself. I think over those last three games he's started to play better because he's just trusting those guys, he’s doing his job.
"I think he’s having a little bit of fun now, which is good."
Quarterback Sean White started the middle five games of the season, but injuries have limited him down the stretch. He didn't play against Idaho.
Lashlee said he liked Johnson's demeanor against Idaho because he had "just had a calm confidence about him, just the way he went about the day and the way he played. He saw everything well, made a lot of good decisions. So I think he's in a good spot right now."
Lashlee says Auburn has run more of its up-tempo offense the last three weeks, and speeding things up has always been a plus for Auburn.
"I thought we did a good job of that against A&M at times, early on against Georgia, and we faltered. We were able to get those first downs this week," Lashlee said. "And we were in maybe more formations this game, so that allowed us to be more multiple with some of the things we did."
Lashlee said resting the injured offensive trio of White, center Austin Golson tackle Shon Coleman was the smart move Saturday.
"Obviously, that helped."
Devonte Danzey replaced Golson, and Robert Leff replaced Coleman.
Lashlee said Golson is "the most questionable" of the injured starters heading into the Iron Bowl.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine