Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t 100 words into his opening statement at last year’s SEC media days before talking about his starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson.
Johnson was one of the team’s three representatives at the annual preseason event a year ago. Malzahn set the stage for the then junior’s appearance by heaping praise on the former backup.
“Jeremy has the ability,” Malzahn said last year. “He can flat out throw it. He can make every throw that you ask him to do, but he's a better runner than people think. We didn't ask him to run the past couple of years, but he's a big, athletic guy. He probably runs a 4.6. So he will allow us to call all of our offense.”
Malzahn will spend plenty of time discussing Johnson and the quarterback position at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover this week, but in a much different context. The quarterback Malzahn described last year wasn’t one that showed up on Saturdays in the fall.
Johnson is now involved in a competition at the position expected to last through at least a healthy portion of fall camp.
Malzahn has spent months fielding questions about the quarterback battle between Johnson, fellow returning starter Sean White and junior college transfer John Franklin III, and stuck to a few familiar talking points.
The coach invariably stresses the importance of competition, his confidence in all three players and how each is capable of successfully running Auburn’s read option, up-tempo offense.
When Malzahn is the first coach to take the stage Monday at the SEC media days, he won’t stray far from a script he’s relied on from spring camp through summer workouts.
His goal will be to get through his 30 or so minutes with the media by revealing as little as possible about the state of Auburn’s quarterback competition. There’s little reason to doubt Malzahn will head back to the Plains having successfully run rhetorical circles around reporters.