AUBURN, Ala. -- Outside of a certain quarterback who didn’t play, there wasn’t much to take away from Auburn’s 62-3 win over Western Carolina on Saturday. But here are three things we learned from the Tigers as they moved to 5-1 on the season.
Nick Marshall is the quarterback: Freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson looked as advertised for Auburn on Saturday, but make no mistake about it: If Marshall is healthy, he is still the guy. Coach Gus Malzahn made that crystal clear in his news conference. He doesn’t want any talk of a quarterback controversy and nor should he. What has Marshall done to lose the job? Go 4-1 as the starter? Lead a game-winning drive against Mississippi State? He’s still the leader of this team, and the players, Johnson included, reflected that after Saturday’s game. The coaches are hoping to have him back for Texas A&M next weekend.
Johnson is capable and ready: Although Marshall is the guy when healthy, Johnson proved that he has the ability to step in and run this offense. Sure, it was against an FCS team, but the freshman still looked impressive. He had poise in the pocket. He showed nice touch and threw a gorgeous deep ball to Ricardo Louis for a 46-yard touchdown. He ran the ball only a couple of times, but he certainly possesses the threat to run. There’s a reason the staff decided to take away his redshirt and play him on Saturday. Now they know there’s no need to panic if Marshall gets hurt or can’t go.
Western Carolina is bad: The Catamounts could get nothing going on offense, and the defense gave up 712 yards, a school record for Auburn. The game provided an opportunity for the Tigers to get some younger players on the field, but it didn’t do much for the starters when they were out there. They will face a much more difficult test next weekend when they visit College Station. The Aggies will be hungry after surviving a scare from Ole Miss on Saturday.