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Auburn football: Nick Marshall, Jonathon Mincy will not start season opener

AUBURN, Ala.Gus Malzahn finally revealed the punishment for Nick Marshall and Jonathon Mincy on Friday.

As a result of their off-field incidents involving marijuana this offseason, they won't be in the starting lineup for the season opener versus Arkansas on Aug. 30.

"I've decided that they will not start Game 1 as part of their punishment," Malzahn said following the Tigers' first practice of the fall. "I will say this: Nick Marshall is still our quarterback. Jonathon Mincy is still our cornerback, but that's part of their punishment."

What Malzahn declined to announce was exactly how much time the pair will miss.

"I'm not ready to say that," he said. "All I can say right now is they're not going to start."

It marks the eighth straight season that Auburn will start a new quarterback in the season, starting with Brandon Cox in 2007 and continuing through Marshall last year. With Marshall beginning the game against the Razorbacks on the sideline, true sophomore Jeremy Johnson will make his second career start and first against a Southeastern Conference opponent.

In his first career start, he completed 17 of 21 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a 62-3 rout of Western Carolina. His performance ended up earning him the SEC's freshman of the week award two days later. Johnson also played extensively against Florida Atlantic after Marshall left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. And even though Johnson still begins the fall as Marshall's backup, Malzahn said this won't change the reps the second-year signal-caller receives during practice.

As Marshall noted, he and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee had already decided Johnson "was going to have a bigger role" in 2014 well before Marshall's marijuana citation.

"We've talked about him and his ability and how we feel about him," the coach said. "We feel very good about our quarterback position as a whole."

Marshall was given a citation for marijuana possession less than an ounce in Reynolds, Ga., on July 11. Due to the incident, Malzahn kept the quarterback out of SEC media days, citing it as a "privilege" to attend the event as a representative of the university. Marshall's mother, Shalena Cliett, paid off the $1,100 fine for her son — $1,000 for the marijuana citation and $100 for an illegal window tint — on July 23.

Mincy was arrested on second-degree possession of marijuana charges on July 29 outside of Abbeville, Ala. The senior corner was accepted into a pretrial diversion program last week after paying $1,156 in fines. Should he complete the program without issue, the charges will be dismissed.

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