- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw four touchdown passes on Saturday, earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors, but Auburn will turn the team back over to Nick Marshall this weekend when it visits Texas A&M, coach Gus Malzahn said.
Marshall started the first five games for the Tigers but missed the Western Carolina game due to a minor knee injury he suffered the week before.
“I want to make it clear -- Nick Marshall is our starting quarterback,” Malzahn said after the game. “When Nick is 100 percent, he will be back.”
It sounds like Marshall is back to 100 percent. When asked if he would be the guy this week, Malzahn responded with a simple, “Yes.” The dual-threat quarterback practiced Sunday with the team, and the staff has full confidence in him.
“He was locked in during practice last week,” Malzahn said. “He practice Sunday and looked good. He’s got another week of practice, and we’re past the midway point. If it was early in the season, I’d be concerned, but I’m not too concerned now.”
Through five games, Marshall had thrown for 902 yards and four touchdowns. Before he got hurt, he rushed for a career-high 140 yards and two touchdowns against Ole Miss, showing his improvement in the ability to run the read-option.
The injury doesn’t change anything, however. The game plan remains the same for Texas A&M.
“The good thing was (Sunday), he got to go out there and take every rep, take every drop, make every throw,” offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. “If we ran a read zone or anything like that, he was able to do all those things. I would expect him to be able to get all the reps he needs this week with the specific gameplan.”
With Marshall back, where does that leave Johnson? The talented signal-caller played well Saturday, but he has lost his redshirt and h has been relegated to the sideline again. In turn, there have been plenty of questions surrounding the coaches’ decision to play Johnson.
“We just felt like it was best for our team this year, it was best best for our team in the long run, and really, it was best for Jeremy at this point, to get some game experience to be able to help us,” Lashlee said. “Not only the rest of this year, but in the future.”
Also, if Marshall were to go down this weekend at Texas A&M, the staff didn’t want Johnson’s first meaningful reps to be on the road, in a hostile environment like Kyle Field.
And just because Marshall is the quarterback, that doesn’t mean that Johnson won’t be used in some capactity going forward.
“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him having some roles moving forward,” Lashlee said. “It wasn’t just for one game. He’s got to be ready as the backup, and he’s also got to be ready, maybe, in other unique roles and situations.”
“We don’t want to give all of our secrets away, but he will be used from game to game,” Malzahn added. “We’ll try to have him in different packags or any way to help us be successful.”
It will be Marshall’s team on Saturday, though. He struggled in his first road game at LSU, but he’s looking for redemption against the Aggies.