Nick Marshall is gone, so Auburn is turning to Jeremy Johnson at QB.
Despite playing behind Marshall the past two years, Johnson will be one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC next fall. He’s played in 13 games and has two starts, including a win over Arkansas in last year’s season-opener in which he threw for 243 yards in the first half.
Marshall was suspended after an offseason marijuana arrest.
“We’ll build around our starting quarterback, and like I said earlier, Jeremy is the guy that is going to take the first snap,” Malzahn said. “He’s got the most experience. Jeremy is a good runner in his own right. He’s not exactly like Nick (Marshall), but he’s a very good runner.
“He throws the ball extremely well. But all of our quarterbacks are going to have a run element. All of these guys that we put out there we feel like will be able to be efficient in the run game. Compared to Nick? That’s really hard. Nick is one of the better runners from a quarterback standpoint probably this league has seen, but all of them can run.”
Johnson has thrown for 858 yards with nine TD and two interceptions. He’s completed 73.1 percent of his attempts and is considered a strong and accurate passer compared to Marshall, whose strength was throwing downfield.
Malzahn also said it’s helpful that offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee returns.
Johnson experience is “very valuable,” Malzahn said.
“The fact he’s been in our program for two years, and ran a similar offense in high school, he understands everything that goes with it,” he said. “He got a lot of practice reps the last two seasons and obviously started against Arkansas and just did an outstanding job with that and got to play some throughout the last two years. We have a lot of confidence in Jeremy. He’s going to have to go out there and win the starting job, but he’s in a very good spot and we have a lot of confidence in him.”