‘He handled himself perfect’

AUBURN, Ala. -- Jeremy Johnson admits to feeling a little nervous before Saturday’s first-career start.

Johnson was a standout in his first Auburn game/Todd Van Emst photo

But it didn’t take long for Auburn’s true freshman quarterback to settle things down.

“After the first pass I completed, I was good,” Johnson said.

To his teammates, Johnson was like a seasoned veteran as he directed the offense to a 62-3 win over Western Carolina at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“He was very poised. He was real calm,” junior running back Tre Mason said. “I had high expectations for him and he met those expectations. We talk all the time and he handled himself perfect today.”

Johnson, who played the first half and the first series of the third quarter, completed 17-of-21 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

“I thought his numbers were very good,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “I believe he was fairly accurate, but he’s been that way for a while. He’s an accurate thrower and he’s very good in that aspect.”

Johnson’s biggest play came late in the first quarter. Two plays after misfiring on a pass intended for Ricardo Louis, Johnson connected with Louis on a perfectly thrown 46-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 21-3 lead.

“It was my fault because I tried to throw the ball too early and it kind of slipped out of my hand, but we knew we had them the next time and that’s why we came back with the big play,” Johnson said.

Jeremy Johnson interview 10-12-13

Johnson started in place of an injured Nick Marshall, who started the Tigers first five games. Johnson got most of the work with the first-team during practices last week but didn’t know he would start until he got on the bus to leave town Friday afternoon.

He got the news from offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.

“Coach Lashlee called me up to the front and asked me if I was ready and I told him, ‘Yes.’ He told me we were going to start me and from that point I stayed focused and prayed,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s family and many of his friends came from Montgomery, Ala., and were in the stands to see him play in his first college game.

“It was great and I enjoyed every bit of it,” he said. “You never know when the opportunity comes and I just prayed overnight and stayed focused. I want to give all the praise to my teammates and God.”

Johnson is ready to take on whatever role the team needs him to the rest of this season. He’s expecting Marshall to return as the starter against Texas A&M next Saturday.

“I’m just going to do my role. Whatever I can do to help the team, that’s what I’m doing. I’m not looking to compete for the job because he’s the starter,” Johnson said. “...Whatever Coach Malzahn draws up, if there’s a plan for me to get in, then I’ll be ready.”

JEREMY JOHNSON VIDEO INTERVIEW

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