Monday Morning QB Column: Impressive Debut

Jeremy Johnson's impressive performance, thoughts about Auburn's offensive line thoughts, Anthony Swain stepping up and linebacker and the Tigers shooting for an upset in College Station are featured in this edition of Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning Quarterback Column.

Freshman Gets The Job Done In Debut

Western Carolina may have been one of the weakest opponents any Auburn team has faced in my lifetime, but that doesn't take anything away from the play of Jeremy Johnson in a 62-3 Homecoming win.

Showing poise in the pocket and a rifle arm, the Montgomery native has developed quickly since arriving on the Auburn campus over the summer. A two-sport star who has always split his time between the basketball court and football field, Johnson has almost unlimited potential as a quarterback now that he is focusing on football and should be fun to watch the rest of this season and in the years to come for the Tigers.

His development is good news for coaches Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee after the start to the season by Nick Marshall. Playing well and still looking for more consistency, the junior college transfer has made improvement through the first half of the season. With Johnson expected to play some role in Auburn's offense moving forward and Marshall still the starter, the Tigers should be able to install interesting packages the rest of the 2013 season involving their quarterbacks.

A Wrinkle At Tight End

With C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse both out of Saturday's game, Auburn turned to an unlikely candidate at the position and may have found something in the process. A backup offensive tackle, redshirt freshman Shon Coleman sported a number 37 jersey and saw playing time as a blocker for the first offense before moving to his natural tackle position when the second team OL got its chance to play.

With Coleman on the field it allowed the offense to work in several unbalanced sets, something that could become more prevalent later in the season. Facing a Texas A&M defense that has struggled to stop the run all season long, it will not be surprising to see big number 37 again at some point this Saturday.

The Forgotten Lineman

Auburn's offensive front has improved by leaps and bounds through six games this season under the guidance of J.B. Grimes. While there is no question guys like Reese Dismukes and Greg Robinson have been a big reason why and are becoming postseason all-star candidates, one of the lineman who doesn't get much mention is redshirt freshman Alex Kozan.

Alex Kozan was a high school star in the state of Colorado.

At almost every other position getting your name is frequently mentioned that is normally good news, but for an offensive lineman it can be good to remain anonymous because that means you are getting the job done. A cerebral player who has the skills to match, Kozan should be a fixture on the offensive line for a long time and based on his early returns that is great news for Grimes.

Blame It On The Swain

There are many guys on this Auburn team who have received a second opportunity at success on the football field after being put on the backburner by the previous coaching staff. Players such as Robenson Therezie, Ryan Smith and Ryan White have all become impact performers for the Tigers on defense.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Anthony Swain is shown at practice.

Another name you can add to the list is sophomore linebacker Anthony Swain. Redshirted after being recruited as a big safety out of Gadsden High, Swain played in just 10 games last season and mostly on special teams. In his very limited playing time he failed to record a single tackle. He has 13 this season and looks like he is headed for more playing time this year.

For a defense that had trouble stopping anyone and with linebacker Jake Holland battling through multiple injuries, the lack of playing time for Swain is another in a long line of questions surrounding Brian VanGorder's brief tenure as defensive coordinator.

That's Why They Play The Game

Heading into Saturday's contest Auburn will likely be more than a 10-point underdog to Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel when the arrive in College Station. A team that has been dominant on offense, the Aggies have struggled on defense and because of that Auburn has a chance to pull off the upset in Kyle Field.

This season Texas A&M has played three conference games and has averaged 42.7 points per game. On the flip side though the Aggies have allowed 40 points per game. They have just one sack in three conference games and have allowed opponents to score 10 touchdowns in 13 red zone opportunities.

Even with all Texas A&M's defensive deficiencies it will still be a difficult task to pull off the upset with Johnny Football on the other sideline, but if the offense comes out clicking the Tigers will have a shot.


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