Joe Jenkins

Auburn To Start Jeremy Johnson At QB On Saturday; Nick Marshall Will Play

Aug 27, 2014 9:47 AM EST

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall will be getting the "Johnny Manziel" treatment when the Tigers open the season against Arkansas on Saturday. 

The senior quarterback and Heisman trophy candidate will start Auburn's first game of the 2014 season on the bench in favor of Sophomore Jeremy Johnson, according to

Marshall's clipboard-holding duties come as a result of a marijuana citation he receieved in July. The question that remains, however, is how long he'll be relegated to the sidelines. Head coach Gus Malzahn remained tight lipped about the quarterback strategy in place against the Razorbacks, only saying that there was a plan in place and that both both Marshall and Johnson knew what that plan was. 

The move is reminiscent of Manziel's short-term benching in Texas A&M's season opener last year. Johnny Football was forced to sit for the first half of the Aggies game against Rice for allegedly accepting payment for autographs. 

The Tigers are hoping their benching of Marshall won't have as much of an impact on the field as the Manziel benching did. The Aggies strugled in the first half against the Owls, leading by only a touchdown going into halftime. 

The good news for Auburn is that Johnson has some experience having seen some live action against Florida Atlantic and even getting the start against Western Carolina last year. 

"We have a lot of confidence in [Jeremy] to run our entire offense, and like I said before, he's very talented," Malzahn told ESPN. "The two games he played last year, he was the freshman SEC offensive player of the week."

All of that aside, Johnson has never started an SEC game, let alone a season opener against an Arkansas team that looks to be improved over last year's 3-9 squad. 

The duration of Marshall's benching could be directly related to how close the Razorbacks can keep the score on Saturday.