Auburn will start freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson against Western Carolina on Saturday. Johnson will get the start in place of Nick Marshall, who injured his knee last week in a win over Ole Miss. This will mark Johnson’s first time playing for Auburn this season. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn took to Twitter to announce the news.
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
— Coach Gus Malzahn (@CoachGusMalzahn) October 11, 2013
Johnson had completed for the starting job in the preseason, so the confidence Malzahn has in the freshman should not be totally unexpected. Having him start against one of the least challenging opponents from the FCS ranks allows Auburn to test a freshman on the field against an opponent with one of the lowest risks in the game this weekend. Johnson brings a solid arm to the field, so do not be surprised if Malzahn asks the freshman to chuck the football down field on occasion. Against Western Carolina, Auburn can afford to make a few mistakes while grooming a potential starter down the line.
Perhaps that is the strategy in play here anyway. Auburn plays at Texas A&M next week. If Marshall’s injury keeps him out of action for another week, Malzahn could have a better read on what Johnson can and cannot do before throwing him on the middle of a road game at Texas A&M. It is better to get the nerves and jitters out now as opposed to in College Station, Texas.