Jeremy Johnson Poised to Make Cam Newton-Like Impact for Auburn in 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jeremy Johnson Poised to Make Cam Newton-Like Impact for Auburn in 2015

Five years ago, an unheralded quarterback stepped into Gus Malzahn’s offense and propelled Auburn back into the national spotlight.

Cam Newton spent only one season on the Plains, but his impact will never be forgotten. The gregarious 6’5”, 240-pound quarterback won the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to a national championship, throwing for 2,854 yards with 30 touchdowns against seven interceptions and rushing for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Newton is a superstar who has validated the Carolina Panthers taking him as the top overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft, and any comparison to him is inherently unfair.

But in Jeremy Johnson, Auburn might have found the next best thing. If Saturday’s A-Day Game is any indication, Johnson has the potential to make a Newton-like impact for Malzahn and the Tigers in 2015.

The junior had a breakout day, completing 14 of 22 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns.

Those are impressive numbers and even more so when you consider that Johnson didn’t take a single snap after halftime, compiling all of his numbers in the first half.

Johnson displayed clear separation from fellow quarterback competitor Sean White, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 109 yards. At 6’5”, 230 pounds, his frame is almost identical to Newton’s, and his game is impressive as well.

“He’s got a lot of experience,” Malzahn told Maria Taylor of the SEC Network on the game telecast. “Even though he’s been the backup, he has as much experience as anyone with practice and game snaps. I thought he did a good job today and we have high expectations for him.”

Saturday, Johnson made all the throws. He showed the ability to check down in Malzahn’s offense when necessary, but he also displayed an impressive touch with the deep ball.

He tossed a 35-yard strike down the right sideline to a covered D’Haquille Wiliams for a touchdown and a 43-yard pass to Myron Burton for another touchdown.

“They’re going to be part of the game plan this season,” he told Taylor of the deep passes. “The ones that I missed, I promise I’ll complete when it comes to game time. I want to give good receivers a chance and let them make plays.”

While Malzahn’s offense will always be based around the run game, Johnson’s presence gives it more of an air-it-out feel. Auburn must replace NFL-bound Sammie Coates, but Williams will be an excellent deep threat, and Burton showed signs Saturday of being a dependable target as well.

That’s important while Auburn learns how to replace the SEC’s leading rusher, Cameron Artis-Payne. Junior-college transfer Jovon Robinson is an impressive presence, and tailback Roc Thomas had his moments Saturday as well. But both could experience an adjustment while carrying a bigger load in Auburn’s backfield.

Johnson has excellent speed and can lower the shoulder on defenders, but he is a very different running threat (and player) than the man he’ll replace, Nick Marshall. Last fall, Marshall threw for 2,532 yards with 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions and added 798 rushing yards and 11 scores.

But he was a converted defensive back whose NFL future, if there is one, is likely as a cornerback. Johnson is a different animal, with size and speed much like Newton’s.

Clearly, Saturday’s stats must be taken with a scoop of salt. New Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp still has work to do with his new charges, particularly in the secondary. And the divided, no-contact nature of games like this can make it difficult to evaluate plenty of matters, including Johnson’s running skills.

But it’s clear that Johnson isn’t afraid of the spotlight. He started 2014’s season opener against Arkansas when Marshall was suspended following an offseason arrest for marijuana possession and looked plenty comfortable, completing 12 of 16 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-21 victory.

Suggesting he’ll duplicate Newton’s accomplishments in one season might be a stretch. Suggesting Auburn fans get a sense of déjà vu toward 2010? That isn’t so far-fetched, not at all.

Read more Auburn Football news on

from Bleacher Report - Auburn Football


No comments:

Post a Comment