QB Johnson makes strong case to start in Auburn spring game
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Jeremy Johnson made a strong case to start at quarterback in Auburn's spring game.
The junior threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns in one half Saturday as Team Auburn topped Team Tigers 24-14.
Coach Gus Malzahn said afterward that competition was still open for the starting job. Freshman Sean White completed 79 percent of his passes for 109 yards.
''I thought he had a pretty good command of the offense,'' Malzahn said of Johnson. ''He probably held onto the ball a little too long some of the time, but I thought he did pretty well overall.''
Sophomore running back Racean ''Roc'' Thomas rushed for 69 yards while playing for both sides. Thomas has been in competition with junior college transfer Jovon Robinson and Peyton Barber to replace the SEC's leading rusher, Cameron Artis-Payne.
Robinson rushed six times for 19 yards while Barber had eight carries for 37 yards.
''All three of our running backs are very good with the ball in their hands,'' Malzahn said. ''All three of them had some good runs. Roc was able to get in some spin moves.''
New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp's first A-Day produced an improved spring game performance, as a late touchdown accounted for the only points of the second half.
Malzahn said he was impressed with the showing, especially considering the lack of depth in the secondary. Top cornerback Jonathan Jones underwent surgery earlier this week.
''We've got a lot of young guys coming in to help,'' Malzahn said. ''The four we put out there at the beginning of the game, we feel pretty good about. Obviously Jonathan Jones wasn't out there, so that'll help us.''
FIRST TOUCH: Thomas scored a 36-yard touchdown on his first touch of the game. It was his first action since failing to recover a lateral on the opening play of the 2014 Iron Bowl.
''I was just trying to be patient more,'' Thomas said. ''I was doing what they needed me to do.''
ZONING IN: The timing between Johnson and top receiver D'haquille Williams is still a work in progress. Johnson was just 2 of 8 on passes to the senior and threw four consecutive incompletions in Williams' direction in the first half. The two were able to connect on a 36-yard touchdown, though.
''The one I missed to him, I underthrew him,'' Johnson said. ''As the season comes along and the offseason moves along, that's going to be corrected.''
SECOND HALF LOCKDOWN:
With Johnson out of the game, Muschamp's defense locked down in the second half. Neither side scored until Jimmie Stoudemire hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 left.
''I think that was the lowest scoring spring game that we've had,'' Malzahn said. ''There were so many punts, so I thought they did some really good things.''