AUBURN, Ala. — Jeremy Johnson's calm tone masked his frustration. Johnson, in the driver's seat to become Auburn's quarterback this fall, wasn't pleased with the way his unit performed Saturday in the team's first spring scrimmage.
"It wasn't to my standard. As an offense it wasn't to our standard," he said. "Kind of up and down, inconsistent, but that’s what we’re here for, to practice. We’re going to come in Monday and get the corrections in."
Asked for specifics, Johnson said there was plenty of blame to go around. Whatever the offense tried to do, whether it was running or passing, Johnson and his compatriots simply never got going.
"Completing balls, simple throws, we (weren't) physical like we wanted to be in the running attack," said Johnson, listing off the problems he saw. "There’s what we’re here to practice and prove every day."
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He admitted there was one pass he completed to D'haquille Williams that would have been a touchdown, if not for the fact the rising senior receiver landed out of bounds. Otherwise, the passing game struggled mightily, as the defense picked off three passes. (None were thrown by Johnson.)
For this, Johnson had to give the defense credit.
"They was coming out hitting hard," he said. "I’m talking about, they (were) excited, they brought a lot of enthusiasm and it was fun watching them."
Johnson wasn't the only signal-caller who got reps Saturday, though. Despite the highlights being few and far between, coach Gus Malzahn said he didn't think there was "anything that stood out negatively" from his quarterbacks.
"They rotated with each group. We had an orange group and a blue group and they rotated," Malzahn said. "Jeremy got a few more with the orange, but it was still fairly close."
In the running back competition, Malzahn said all three players fighting for the job — Roc Thomas, Jovon Robinson and Peyton Barber — got significant playing time. All three rotated with the first- and second-teams, and Malzahn said the coaching staff "tried to give them as equal carries as we could." Of the three, Robinson was the only one to make it in the end zone, scoring on a long touchdown run, according to teammates. (Auburn does not provide statistics from its scrimmages.)
Malzahn wasn't bothered by the fact the offense didn't have a banner outing.
He viewed it as an example of the metaphorical tug-of-war intrasquad scrimmages breed.
"The expectations are high. But no, I don't look at it as a negative," Malzahn said. "I look at it as a positive that the defense came to play. In spring, it's a constant competitiveness. One day, one wins. One day, the next wins. That's the beauty about it."