Malzahn Mum On Who Will Start At Quarterback

Auburn wrapped up on-the-field preparations for Homecoming on Thursday evening with Coach Gus Malzahn yet to announce his starting quarterback for Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Quarterback Jeremy Johnson continued to get work with the first team offense at Thursday's practice, but the Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has yet to announce whether the true freshman will make his college debut on Saturday or if injured starter Nick Marshall will play or if sophomore backup Jonathan Wallace will make his first start of the season.

"We will make a decision probably tomorrow," Malzahn said after Thursday's practice. "Jeremy Johnson and Jonathan Wallace got the majority of the reps. Both of those are very solid quarterbacks."

Marshall hurt a knee in the fourth quarter on Saturday night and has seen limited work in practice throughout the week. "Nick will definitely be okay," Malzahn said. "We will see how he is tomorrow."

Nick Marshall is Auburn's second leading rusher this season.

Malzahn noted that he and quarterback coach/offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee will meet and discuss who the starter will be. "Right now we are still trying to judge everything," the head coach said.

Commenting on the possibility of pulling the redshirt off of Johnson, Malzahn said, "First of all Jeremy has gotten a lot of reps in practice and fall camp, and done extremely well. From a team standpoint you do what gives yourself the best chance of winning."

Johnson, who is 6-5, 220, was Alabama's Mr. Football as a senior at Carver High in Montgomery.

Commenting on Wallace, Malzahn said, "Jonathan Wallace is one of the biggest winners we have on our team. He is a great team player. Not only our offense, our defensive players, our whole team respects him. He is definitely a very good quarterback in his own right."

Jonathan Wallace started four games last season.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CDT on Saturday as the Tigers look to win their 22nd consecutive Homecoming matchup. Auburn has an all-time record of 74-8-4 in those contests and is 2-0 in games vs. Western Carolina.

Malzahn said the goal of practice this week was to become a better team and said Thursday night he believes the Tigers have done that.

Jeremy Johnson was in a battle for the starting spot in preseason, but has yet to play this season.

The Tigers worked out in shorts for 90 minutes on Thursday evening in their final practice before taking on the Catamounts, who will bring a 1-5 record to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn has a 4-1 record this year as opposed to a 1-4 mark going into game six in 2012 when the Tigers didn't pick up their second victory until game nine.

"It is very satisfying," pointed out junior running back Tre Mason when asked about the turnaroud in the team's record. "That feeling that we had last year, I never want to go through again. It's a lot of motivation from last year to this year."

Mason, who leads the Tigers in rushing yards with 415, is averaging 83.0 yards per contest, which is almost identical to his average per game as a sophomore when he finished the year with 1,002 yards on the ground. Last season he caught seven passes for 86 yards. He has topped those numbers already with eight catches for 100 yards through five games.

"I feel like I can be a threat in the receiving game also and, hopefully, I can continue to do those things and run the ball," the junior said.

Mason noted that the offensive line, which features four returning starters, is off to a good start. "They are gelling together as one, and it all starts down from Reese Dismukes to Greg Robinson, everybody.

"They are all doing their thing and having double-digits knockdowns a game," the running back added. "That is the big thing--playing together. If we play together, we can go pretty far, but those guys are doing their job up front. I commend them because that is how I get my success--through those guys. They are pretty much the unsung heroes."

In other news:

*The weather forecast is looking good for Saturday with clear skies, low humidity and temperatures in the low 80s to upper 70s during the game.

*The pay-per-view telecast featuring Andy Burcham doing the play-by-play and Gabe Gross as the analyst is available on cable systems in the state of Alabama as well as Direct TV channels 785 and 785-1 plus Dish Network channel 461. Outside the state it is available on ESPN3 and ESPN GamePlan.

*The Auburn Radio Network's coverage of the game can be heard at on Sirius channel 93 or XM 199.

*The Tigers are averaging 6.0 yards per offensive snap while opponents are averaging 5.7 yards per play vs. the Auburn defense. In the fourth quarter Auburn's defense has performed better, giving up an average of 4.3 yards per play.

The Tigers have been effective stopping third down conversions in the final quarters, allowing opponents to make just 3-21 so far this season. Overall, opponents are converting on 36.6 percent of their third downs vs. the AU defense.

Against Ole Miss the Tigers allowed the Rebels to convert just 1-14 third down opportunities after the opening quarter. Counting third down and fourth down conversion tries the Rebels were successful on just 2-11 in the second half last Saturday.

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