Auburn, Ala.--One day after Auburn’s win over Louisville, Coach Rhett Lashlee said there is no need to push the panic button about the play of quarterback Jeremy Johnson. Even though there were plenty of mistakes to go around Lashlee said it was just a matter of his junior trying to do more than was needed.
“Jeremy's going to be fine,” Lashlee said. “I've got as much confidence, if not more, in Jeremy than I had before the game. Jeremy was pressing. He was trying to make some plays. That happens. He did make several uncharacteristic decisions of himself.
“He knows that cost us and we can't do that. There's nobody more disappointed and ready to atone for their mistakes than Jeremy, and I think the best thing is you learn from your mistakes in a win, it's a lot more fun than learning from them in a loss.
“Those are just things we've got to be careful with the football. Overall, when he threw the ball, I think he threw a lot of accurate balls and did a nice job. It was probably just three or four bad decisions that we'd like to have back. And we're going to learn from them.”
Completing just 11-21 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions, Johnson’s numbers could have actually been a little worse with another possible interception dropped by the Louisville secondary. They could have also been much better with a 56-yard strike to Jason Smith called back because of penalty, something that Lashlee said could have changed things dramatically for his quarterback.
“Now you're looking at a guy that threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns,” Lashlee said. “Two plays later, we threw another interception.
“At this point, it's one game. He's still undefeated as a starter. He's our guy. Can't do anything about that, let's go win the next one.”
Now preparing for week two against Jacksonville State Lashlee said the goal for Johnson and the entire offense is improvement. That would be a huge concern if the problems weren’t correctable, but for Auburn’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach he said everything is staring Johnson right in the face.
“You don't have to tell him what he did wrong,” Lashlee said. “He knew. It was those kind of mistakes. The other thing, too, is when you play that position you get all the criticism, you get all the praise. That's how it works. Maybe my other option wasn't where he was supposed to be, instead of tucking it and running or eating it, I tried to make something that wasn't there but really I need to put the ball here, but that guy wasn't where he was supposed to be or maybe he had pressure in his face.
“There's a lot of things that go into certain plays you don't always see big picture. It's just, well, he threw an interception. But, you still have to make the right decision, even when things break down. That's all it is. Again, nothing physical, all very correctable. No one knows more than him we have to protect the ball better moving forward.”
Shouldering The Load
With both Thomas and Robinson banged up last night it gave Peyton Barber the perfect chance to show what he could do. Carrying the ball 24 times for 115 yards in just over two quarters of work the redshirt sophomore did some work on Saturday, something Lashlee said was huge moving forward this season.
“Well it’s too early to call as far as competition,” Lashlee said. “We’re going to need them all. Just like last night, two of them dropped in one drive, so you never know in this league what will happen. But yeah, I’d say a guy like Peyton definitely, hopefully, earns some confidence in himself.
“He earned confidence from his teammates and his coaches. You feel really confident that he’s now gone out there. Twenty-four carries in a big game in about two and half quarters is a lot. And he carried the load and did very well.”
Auburn appears to be in good shape on the injury from with Roc Thomas (ankle) and Jovon Robinson (ankle) both day-to-day according to Lashlee. “Should be fine, nothing major,” he said. “They just weren’t able to go back in last night but we’re not concerned long term at all with those guys.”
On the defensive side of the ball Carl Lawson (hip) and Tray Matthews (shoulder) are also both expected to be fine long term even though both are likely to be limited in practice this week as the Tigers prepare for the Gamecocks. “Carl is good,” Barber said of his old high school teammate. “He’s fine.”