AUBURN, ALA. – Georgia fan take heart. You are not suffering the quarterback flu alone. Just an easy drive down I-85, barely on the other side of the eastern time zone, the condition has left another program of compare weakened and wheezing.
All week leading to game day, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn guarded the identity of his starting quarterback as he would a nuclear launch code. That always signals trouble at the most important position.
And sure enough, the Tigers limped away from Saturday’s 20-13 loss to Georgia having thrown for a mere 62 yards. That’s 11 yards fewer in a game than the Tigers gained on one play the last time they faced Georgia here – the 73-yard miracle completion to Ricardo Louis in 2013.
Auburn started with Jeremy Johnson, the highly touted one at preseason who got benched after throwing six interceptions in his first three games.
He contributed one more to the Bulldogs Saturday. One of his numerous overthrows – this one intended for Tony Stevens – wobbled like a debutante with a broken heel into the arms of Georgia’s Malkom Parrish.
The Auburn offense managed to gain 185 yards in the first half while building a 10-3 lead – but 161 of them came on the ground.
Looking for something more midway in the third quarter, Malzahn inserted his second option, freshman Sean White, wearing a very unfashionable brace on his injured knee. He was never a factor, completing just one of five passes for one little yard. Blindsided in the fourth quarter, White fumbled, Georgia recovered and eventually cashed that in for its final three points.
Of his unsuccessful juggling, Malzahn said: “We were going to play both of them, we made that call before the game. We just felt like it was a good time to put (White) in there.”
Going the distance in beating Texas A&M last week, Johnson was quietly effective in managing the offense. This time, neither he nor White could produce any meaningful downfield completions.
Auburn has but two scheduled games left, Idaho and Alabama. Still, the quarterback mystery persists.
“We will practice hard and get them ready for next week,” Malzahn said.