Gus Malzahn knows offense.
The coach has earned praise for his uptempo scheme as both a coordinator and head coach. In 2010, Malzahn’s scheme helped Cam Netwon win a Heisman Trophy during one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in college football history.
At Arkansas State, the coach’s scheme helped dual-threat Ryan Aplin lead the Red Wolves to a Sun Belt Championship. In his return to Auburn, Malzahn turned Nick Marshall into a star during the Tigers’ SEC Championship season in 2013.
Jeremy Johnson is next in line.
The junior provides a similar frame to Newton’s during his tenure at Auburn. He’s 6-5, 240-pounds and has the elusive speed to make plays out of the pocket.
Johnson made several appearances for the Tigers but has severed as a backup during his first two seasons. He started the season opener against Arkansas and went 12-of-16 for 243 yards and two touchdown passes as Marshall served a two-quarter suspension.
Johnson enters his first season as a full-time starter with 858 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions on 57-of-78 passing and 40 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushing attempts. The junior will have plenty of targets even after the departure of Sammie Coates and Cameron Artis-Payne, the SEC’s leading rusher.
D’haquille Williams enters the 2015 season as the NFL’s top wide receiver prospect, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper. Ricardo Louis told Al.com that he’s “more consistent” after dropping just four passes in 15 spring practices.
Auburn will split carries between sophomore Roc Thomas and top JUCO transfer Jovon Robinson. Thomas entered as a four-star prospect but saw little action behind Artis-Payne and fellow senior Corey Grant.
Robinson is “an intriguing blend of power and quickness who possesses good natural instincts,” according to Al.com‘s Joel A. Erickson.
In 2014, the Tigers were a bad defense away from being a true contender in the SEC West. Instead, the team finished fourth behind Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
With the addition of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator, Auburn looks to be an improved team in 2015. Johnson enters the perfect situation for success and could emerge as one of the conference’s top quarterbacks.
Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott is the SEC’s top quarterback. Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs is a contender that gained plenty of hype during season’s end.
Johnson could have the best case for a Heisman candidacy in 2015 based on natural ability and his team’s success. The dual-threat should provide the perfect fit for Malzahn’s uptempo offense and enjoy a breakout season under center.