Wallace Earns Backup Role For Tigers

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn talks about the decision to go with Jonathan Wallace as the backup quarterback for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--With Nick Marshall named the starting quarterback on Saturday by Coach Gus Malzahn, the a major question at the position was who will be the backup for the Tigers on opening night against Washington State?

After Sunday night's practice the Auburn coach ended any speculation on the subject with the announcement that Jonathan Wallace would get the nod over freshman Jeremy Johnson.

Locked in a battle with Marshall for the starting position, Malzahn said both quarterbacks handled themselves well throughout the preseason camp and that he is excited about the potential at the position this fall with three solid options.

"It's a great luxury to go into the first game with a guy we have confidence in, that if he goes into the game, he's going to be able to get everything right and execute and all that," Malzahn said of Wallace. "I think we're in really good shape right now going into the season. Like I said, Jeremy Johnson, if he keeps improving, he can be ready also. We've got three guys we feel really good about."

A starter the last four games of the 2012 season as a true freshman, Wallace completed 46 of 80 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns with four interceptions. That experience and his knowledge of the offense played a big part in Malzahn's decision as did his performance throughout fall camp.

"We felt like (Wallace) had a really good camp and he will be the next guy in if something were to happen to Nick," Malzahn said. "We have a lot of confidence in him and his teammates do, too. He understands the offense and he understands the complete playbook.

"He fought hard," the coach added. "The thing about Jonathan, he's a great competitor. He is one of the more class, high-character young men on our team and his teammates really respect him. He fought hard.

"It was hard to tell him he wasn't going to be the starter, I'll tell you that, but he is a class young man. He handled it like a champ. I know he's probably hurting, but you wouldn't know that. He is very supportive of Nick and that helps our team."

Marshall agrees with the coach about Wallace being supportive saying, "Me and Jonathan, we're cool. And he just told me, basically, if I need help with anything, just come to him and he'll help me with it."

Jeremy Johnson looks like he has a bright future with the Auburn Tigers

Entering the competition straight out of Carver High in Montgomery, Johnson made a strong run at not only the number two spot, but also the starting role for the Tigers. Impressive physically, the two-sport high school star has seen his game come together quickly with his full concentration on football since arriving in Auburn early in the summer.

Malzahn said that while the talented newcomer will travel and dress for every game, there is a possibility the Tigers will redshirt six-foot-five quarterback. Being an injury away from the number two spot, however, he said that means he'll work with the offense and be ready to play if needed.

"He also really impressed us," Malzahn said of Johnson. "He's got a lot of physical tools. He understands how to run a fast-paced offense because he did it in high school and really impressed us and did a solid job.

"Obviously, at this point, it wouldn't be a bad point if he redshirts, because that means the other guys stayed healthy, but we're still bringing him along. He's going to get reps in practice and he is going to understand what happens. He made it interesting. It's very hard to do for a true freshman to make it interesting, but that says a lot about him."

With Johnson working with the offense on a daily basis the job of scout team quarterback falls to walk-on transfer Tucker Tuberville. He is the son of former Auburn and current Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville.

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