Gus Malzahn has serious work to do to turn the pathetic Auburn offense into one that can compete in the SEC.
In 2012, Auburn mustered just 18.7 points per game, which was good for 114th in the nation. The biggest culprit was the passing game. At 156.6 passing yards per game, Auburn was 116th in the nation. The Tigers also threw eight touchdowns against 15 interceptions.
So, to sum things up, the quarterback play was terrible. That means it should come as a relief to Tigers fans that the two quarterback holdovers from last year, Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace, are out of the running for the starter's job this year:
Malzahn says he and OC Rhett Lashlee have decided to give newcomers Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall most of the reps in the QB race.— The Auburn Plainsman (@TheAUPlainsman) August 12, 2013
According to Joel A. Erickson AL.com, Malzahn likes the dual-threat nature of his top two quarterbacks:
"Both of them have extremely live arms. They both can run, and both of them are athletic," Malzahn said. "It’s just a matter of how quick they can get acclimated. We’re still looking for a couple of different situations to see how they react and see how their teammates react."
Let's take a deeper look into these two quarterbacks.
Jeremy Johnson arrives with an outstanding pedigree. In 247Sports Composite rankings, he ranked as the 11th-best pro-style quarterback in the latest class of recruits.
He definitely has the body for it. At 6'5" and 215 pounds, he has the size that will bring back memories of Cam Newton. Johnson's mechanics are solid, and he has a high release point.
He also has a powerful arm and decent touch and accuracy on his short passes. With time to throw, he will be able to sit in the pocket and pick defenses apart.
He has solid speed and can be an explosive runner, but he will need to work on his ball security to not be a liability in the run game.
While he would face a huge challenge of being a true freshman in the SEC, he does have one thing in his favor. As Mike Marshall of 247Sports points out, his Montgomery, Ala., high school played in a version of Malzahn's fast-paced offense.
Not to mention, the simple fact that he is one of the two quarterbacks left battling for the starting spot tells us he is adjusting just fine to college football.
This is Nick Marshall's first year at Auburn, but he is a junior after arriving from Garden City Community College.
He threw for over 3,100 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, and according to NCJAA, he was third in yards per game on the JUCO level. He's not just a passer, either.
Who will be the Game 1 starter?
Johnson is so athletic that he is a former University of Georgia DB. However, he was dismissed in 2012 for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
He is speedy, athletic and a natural ball-carrier. He added another 19 touchdowns and 1,095 yards on the ground last year. He doesn't have the same tremendous size as Johnson, but at 6'2" and 205 pounds, he isn't small.
Besides, his excellent mobility and ability to throw on the run means he's not confined to the pocket.
He doesn't have the greatest accuracy, but he is such an asset in the run game that it is easy to overlook.