Some called Jeremy Johnson the next Cam Newton. At the very least, they expected him to be an All-SEC candidate and in the running for the Heisman Trophy at the end of the season.
Three games in, and Auburn is wishing they could hand Nick Marshall a jersey again. Johnson hasn't only failed to live up to the high expectations placed on him in the preseason, but he's hurt his team with bad decisions and costly turnovers.
He's thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5) and completed less than 60 percent of his passes.
The Tigers took down Louisville 31-24 in Week 1 despite Johnson's three-interception performance and survived a scrappy FCS team in Jacksonville State as he tossed two more picks. But the luck finally ran out on the road at LSU.
With the offense struggling and the game already out of hand at halftime, Gus Malzahn told CBS he might consider going with another QB. He stuck with Johnson, however, and LSU cruised to a 45-21 victory. Johnson finished 11-of-19 with 2 TD's and passed for an underwhelming 100 yards. And guess what, he threw another interception. An oh yeah, he also fumbled twice.
It was another subpar game for an offense that's supposed to be in the upper echelon of college football. We all knew coming into the season they could struggle after losing so many key starters, but then again... a lot of people didn't because they already had Johnson tabbed as the next Cam Newton. Boy, they couldn't have missed the mark any further.
Quarterback is far from the only position of concern right now for Malzahn, but if the passing game doesn't improve he might be staring a 5-7 season right in the face. The offense will become more and more predictable, kind of like it was against LSU. Auburn ran the ball 37 times compared to just 19 passes. Granted, they have always been a run-heavy offense, but at least they had the threat to throw downfield in the past.
They don't have that right now with Jeremy Johnson, and call me crazy, but I think he may be on a very short leash against Mississippi State. Auburn can't afford a loss -- at home especially -- to start 0-2 in conference play. The hole would be too big to crawl out of and fans would turn on Malzahn quicker than Bama fans turned on Saban this week.
Johnson likely starts the game. His backup, Sean White, is a redshirt freshmen and hasn't taken a snap in his career. But don't think he's someone the coaching staff won't hand the keys to if Johnson can't get the job done. White won Trent Dilfer's Elite 11 competition a couple years back and won MVP at the Under Armour All-American game.
I know it's a different level of competition in the SEC, but still, there's not much that white can do to kill his team's chances of winning any more than Johnson has.
So if the Tigers find themselves trailing Saturday and MSU's defense is forcing him into more mistakes, don't be surprised if a move is made. If I'm Dan Mullen, I'm game planning for two quarterbacks this week in practice.