Jason Caldwell

Rhett Lashlee Says Jeremy Johnson Is Still Auburn's Quarterback

Auburn coordinator Rhett Lashlee talks about his team's struggling offense and the play of quarterback Jeremy Johnson.

Jeremy Johnson (above) has five starts at quarterback for the Tigers, who won four of those games, but lost 45-21 at LSU on saturday.

“Yep, he’s our starter right now.”

Those were Auburn offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rhett Lashlee's words on Sunday night after practice when asked if junior Jeremy Johnson would be the starter this weekend against Mississippi State.

However, Lashlee did admit that all players are being evaluated, and the process for deciding who will start and who will play significant minutes going forward will continue throughout practice this week.

“We spent the whole day (evaluating players),” the coach pointed out. “We’re going to do whatever we can to put the best guys on the field to give us a chance to win Saturday.”

Auburn will take on Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium this week. Kickoff for the SEC football game is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT with TV coverage on ESPN2.

The focus of criticism for Auburn’s offense in the first three games has undoubtedly been Johnson’s play. The first-year starter has thrown for 473 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions with a 59.7 percent completion rate. The more telling stats for Auburn’s anemic offense are the national rankings of 106th in total yards and 88th in points per game.

A potential option to spark the offense would have been to turn to backup quarterback Sean White midway through or late in the LSU game. That never happened and the task for Johnson and the Auburn offense after the poor start was to try to find a rhythm, Lashlee pointed out.

“We were playing so poorly we were really focused on trying to score points and we were able to do that a little bit in the second half,” the coach said. “Our biggest thing right now is, again, we didn't have a lot of explosive plays.

“We are still turning the football over and those things lead to not really being able to get into a rhythm. That's why you haven't seen a lot of consistency in any area right now.”

The inconsistent performances from Johnson have not been expected, according to Lashlee. “He practiced well last week,” the coach said. “I fully expected him to play well, fully expected us to play well. We’ve got a young team. I don’t know if playing in a hostile environment for the first time had anything to do with it. All I know is we didn't play very well.”

Offensive tackle Avery Young said on Sunday night he has not given up on his teammate as the Tigers to prepare to play Mississippi State.

“Everybody on this team knows that it is not easy playing quarterback,” said Young. “It is the SEC. It is the level right below NFL. It is not the easiest position to play. Everybody is going to have their ups and downs. Every game is not going to be perfect. You just have to get better. We all stand behind him on it.”

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