Jeremy Johnson: The SEC’s 2nd Best Quarterback?


Aug 30, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers offensive coordinator

Rhett Lashlee

(left) high-fives quarterback

Jeremy Johnson

(6) after a touchdown as head coach Gus Malzahn celebrates in the background against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

In the fourth quarter of Auburn’s blowout of San Jose State, the ESPN2 announcers began to discuss SEC quarterbacks.

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Brian Griese, a former Michigan Wolverine, longtime NFL QB and the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese, was the color commentator that evening. He knows a thing or two about the quarterback position.

When Auburn backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson entered the game in replacement of Tigers’ starter Nick Marshall, Griese had an interesting thing to say about the sophomore – interesting enough that we tweeted it right after we heard it.

  That statement in itself may not be all that surprising. So far in 2014, Johnson has completed 15 of the 20 passes he has attempted (75%), for 277 yards, two touchdowns and he has not thrown an interception. That equates to 13.9 yards per attempt and a quarterback rating of 224.3 Breaking down those numbers, among quarterbacks with 20 or more passes this season, Johnson has the highest quarterback rating in the conference. Also, no one has a better average in terms of yards per attempt. But diving further, Johnson actually leads the entire country in those statistics among quarterbacks with 20 or more attempts. In the SEC, only Alabama’s Blake Sims has completed a higher percentage of his passes, and Johnson ranks 5th nationally among all QB’s with 20 or more attempts. And then, Griese took things a step further.  

Here’s the dialogue from the broadcast. You can hear the audio here, beginning around the 2:54:00 mark. We’ve omitted the play-by-play.

"Play-by-play announcer Dave Pasch: “Did I hear you say you think he’s the second best quarterback in the SEC?”Griese: “I do, I do. You name me one that’s better. We don’t know a lot about Kenny Hill… name me one quarterback that’s better than Jeremy Johnson.Pasch: [silence]Griese: Exactly. Exactly.”Pasch: “I’d be hard pressed to put Bo Wallace there.”Griese: “No.”Pasch: “Dak Prescott? Do you put him above Jeremy Johnson … Mississippi State?Griese: “No.”"

Is Jeremy Johnson the second best quarterback in the SEC? When we ranked everyone in the league before the season, Johnson was in the top ten. At the time, it appeared to be a pretty lofty ranking. However, Griese blew our projections out of the water.

But the former Wolverine really put it well just moments later. After Johnson scores on a one-yard touchdown run:

"Griese: “Whether you agree that he’s one of the best in the SEC and could start anywhere else, it doesn’t really matter. He’s the best backup in all of college football. And for that reason, Auburn is in really good shape if something were to happen to Nick Marshall.”"

Two games, three quarters and 20 passes is a very small sample size. But Jeremy Johnson is as talented as they come. He has prototypical size at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and he has a rocket for a right arm. Despite not being used often as a runner, he is quick and athletic and will run many of the same plays Marshall does once the senior leaves town. Jeremy Johnson very well could be the SEC’s second best quarterback.

Here’s a crazy thought, though: What if Jeremy Johnson isn’t the second best quarterback in the SEC? Instead, what if he’s the best?