Auburn players officially report for fall camp on Thursday. First day of fall practice is Friday. The Razorbacks come calling in 33 days. So maybe the ‘talking season’, as Steve Spurrier defined this period of time, is coming to a close.
This season of yapping has been headline grabbing in that coaches have chosen to use the media to trade jabs with each other.
Without a conference win under this belt, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielama took shots at Alabama and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
LSU’s Les Miles used the airways to fire back at SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy.
Nick Saban got in Bob Stoops’ craw calling last year’s Sugar Bowl a consolation game.
Stoops fired back at Saban and then proceeded to rip Texas A&M’s soft schedule.
Even Shelley Meyer, the wife of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, got in on the act.
Seems like this is one notch above your-mother-wears-combat-boots, doesn’t it?
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn stayed away from the he-said-she-said stuff. He addressed the Nick Marshall situation, provided news about Carl Lawson’s status and answered hundreds of other questions.
It was last Wednesday when Malzahn, while going through ESPN’s car wash, dropped his own headline-grabbing comment. Malzahn didn’t throw anyone under the bus; didn’t attack an opponent’s schedule or rip somebody’s mother.
“Even before [Marshall’s arrest on June 11], at the end of spring practice, [offensive coordinator Rhett] Lashlee and I made a commitment that Jeremy [Johnson] was going to have a role,” Malzahn told ESPN.com “He’s an NFL quarterback, no doubt.”
Now we’re talking.
Apparently Malzahn has put Johnson and NFL quarterback in the same sentence before. The difference is when he said it last Wednesday it meant that the without-a-doubt-future-NFL-quarterback is actually going to be on the field somewhat consistently this season.
For Auburn fans that couldn’t be more exciting. When Malzahn first stated his intentions of getting the 6-foot-5, 230 pound sophomore on the field, we mentioned what that will mean. Opposing defenses will have to game plan for Nick Marshall who perfected the zone-read offense last season and for Johnson, a strong-armed pocket passer.
If a player has some much talent coaches figure out a way to get them on the field. That is exactly what Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee are doing.
Last year Johnson passed for 29-of-41 passing for 422 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. He lead the Tigers on scoring drives on their first four offensive possessions in his first career start against Western Carolina. He looked effective in three quarters against Florida Atlantic. More importantly, he came in off the bench against Arkansas and Georgia and delivered two strikes for first downs when Marshall was injured for one play in each game.
Just how much time Johnson will get under center and how much he is used is the question. It’s a question that might keep defensive coordinators up at night. Only Malzahn and Lashlee know the answer. There won’t be any he-said-she-said about it.