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Auburn coach Gus Malzahn declines to give QB Jeremy Johnson vote of confidence

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

AP

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn issued a familiar refrain when asked about quarterback Jeremy Johnson’s status as the team's starter the past two weeks.

“He’s going to get better,” Malzahn said, in the face of the offense's many issues during the first two weeks of the season.

When Johnson struggled against Jacksonville State, Malzahn cut off a line of questioning about replacing him with backup Sean White.

After a 45-21 loss to LSU Saturday at Tiger Stadium, the tone, and responses to similar questions were significantly different.

“We are going to evaluate everything after today,” Malzahn said. “Every position. We have to get better, and it ain’t just him. It’s all positions.”

Malzahn made it clear throughout his short post-game remarks that the offense’s performance, specifically in the first half, was unacceptable. He used words like “awful” and “horrible” to describe the lack of production from an offense that came into the season with high expectations.

“We were out of sync,” Malzahn said. “Everything was out of sync in the first half.”

Auburn went into halftime with less than half the yards, 70, as LSU running back Leonard Fournette had by himself (169). The offense was 2 of 6 on third downs, and only had six first downs.

“We gave the defense no hope,” Johnson said, echoing his coach’s own words.

Johnson was 11 of 19 for 100 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He ran the ball 12 times for 41 yards with a touchdown, and was sacked five times.

It was his sixth interception of the season, and he added a seventh turnover when he fumbled in the third quarter.

Malzahn said the coaching staff didn’t really discuss replacing Johnson at halftime, “we were trying to figure out how to move the football and score some points,” but those discussions could become more prevalent this week.

Johnson wasn’t bothered by Malzahn’s comments.

“You have to prove yourself each and every practice,” Johnson said.

He said he wouldn’t have been upset if he was pulled from the game, and claims his confidence hasn’t taken a hit.

“I’m still very confident, I know it’s going to click, we are going to click as a team and good things are going to happen for us,” Johnson said. “It’s what we preach on as a team, no matter what we go through we are going to stick together.”

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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