*From Auburn Media Relations*
AUBURN, Ala. -- New quarterbacks Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson are learning Auburn's fast-paced offense on the fly.
And then some.
"Not only are you asking them to learn a new system and learn reads, you're asking them to do it at warp speed," said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. "They've picked it up well."
That's good for Auburn, considering Marshall, the junior college transfer, and Johnson, last year's Mr. Football in Alabama, are getting the first-team snaps as the battle to become the opening day starter continues.
Lashlee said don't count Jonathan Wallace out of the race, either.
All three have strong arms, but Lashlee is looking for something more.
"It all goes back to who's going to earn the respect of their teammates. Who's the team believe in? Who does the offense believe in? Who's going to protect the ball? Who do we feel like we can trust?"
The quarterback race, the focus of fall practice anyway, jumped to warp speed on its own Monday when head coach Gus Malzahn announced that Kiehl Frazier had moved to safety, and Marshall and Johnson would get the first crack at the starting job.
The quarterback race is officially down to three. When will it be down to one?
"We don't have a date, but the quicker you can decide, the quicker you can move on preparing for your opponent," Lashlee said.
Auburn scrimmaged in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Tuesday morning, but the practice showcased young players and reserves as much as Marshall and Johnson. When it was over, Lashlee said the Marshall and Johnson look " pretty much the same. We're running the same plays with all three of the guys. Each one of those guys do things a little bit different. But, right now, I don't think there's any part of the offense we could or could not run with either Nick or Jeremy over the other. I think both could fill the same role for us."
Marshall's path to Auburn has already included a stop at Georgia as a defensive back and to junior college as a quarterback.
"He's also two years older than the average young man coming out of high school," Lashlee said. "The natural maturity level I'm sure exist. While junior college is not the SEC, it's a step up in speed from a lot of high schools. That can't hurt."
Johnson is being asked to make an even bigger jump, from Carver High in Montgomery to the SEC.
Wallace is being held in reserve as the front-line competition continues between Marshall and Johnson.
"We were honest with him and those guys that we were going to let the two new guys, who don't have the same amount of reps, get more of the reps this week," Lashlee said.
It all goes back to who's going to earn the respect of their teammates. Who's the team believe in? Who does the offense believe in? Who's going to protect the ball? Who do we feel like we can trust?