- And a side note... can we have another moment of contemplation on just how awesome Nick Marshall was? No, he wasn't an NFL-style quarterback like JJ, but man was he special.
Jeremy Johnson, Jonathan Wallace
Sean White (RS), Tyler Queen
Causes for Optimism:
Did you watch the first half of last season's Arkansas game? How about the games against Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic in 2013? Jeremy Johnson is a baller. He's like buttah. His deep passes are so pretty. They just seem to drop right into the receiver's hands. He's got so much velocity on his passes when he needs it, too.
Just watch this video and see why Auburn folks are so excited about finally seeing #6 at the helm of this offense.
That first half against Arkansas wasn't even with him running the full offense, either. He never ran the football or was ever a serious threat to run it, then. You can bet he will be once he's given complete control of the offense against Louisville.
The best part for Auburn, right now? The offense changes a little bit if (hopefully it never happens) Johnson gets hurt, but Sean White is an excellent QB in his own right. He may be even more accurate than JJ. I think the Tigers would struggle for a bit if he had to get his legs under him in a difficult situation (like on the road against LSU), but Auburn would be ok with Sean White at the helm, too. THAT'S a big cause for optimism.
Causes for Concern:
While JJ has looked brilliant in his appearances, we've never really gotten a chance to see him in a real pressure-filled situation like an SEC road game. I'm really almost glad the opener is the neutral site game against Louisville, since it gives him a chance to play away from home before having to go to Baton Rouge.
I think JJ will be just fine no matter where Auburn is playing, but we've still never seen him have to deal with a tough situation. He looked a bit sketchy on the final drive against Arkansas last season, but there were some other factors involved in that, too.
I said a few weeks back that JJ doesn't need to be Cam Newton, but that Jason Campbell is a perfectly adequate mark to shoot for. Sure, that still means playing All-SEC level, but he doesn't have to be a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for Auburn to be successful. As good as he is, Auburn will likely live and die by running the football.
Of course, Gus could revert to his old pass-happy days if JJ keeps lighting things up through the air. That's essentially what we saw in the first half against Arkansas last season. Imagine that for a whole season AND with the running game clicking along nicely, too.
I think Auburn's success for 2015 will hinge upon the defense more than anything else, because I expect nothing less than stellar play from the offense, and JJ will be the key cog in that.