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Confident Nick Marshall dazzles as Auburn exits spring

Nick Marhall, Montravius Adams AP

It’s impossible for a player to win a Heisman based on his spring-game performance, just as, barring injury, it’s impossible for someone to lose it.  What a solid-to-spectacular performance — especially when it’s televised — can do is show the level of progress made from the previous year… and put that player on the minds of those with a stiff-armed lean during the dog days of the offseason.

Based on that assumption — howdy, Coach Saban! — you can very well expect rave reviews and upbeat predictions for the upcoming season to be rolling in for Nick Marshall.

During Auburn’s spring game Saturday, the Tigers quarterback led the first-team offense on seven possessions… and put points on the board at the end of every single one of them.  Included in that very efficient and proficient performance were four touchdown passes from Marshall to three different receivers.  Additionally, all of that scoring came in the first half as Marshall didn’t see the field for the last two quarters.

One of the few negatives to take out of Marshall’s day was the fact that he completed 59 percent of his passes; offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has set a standard of a 65-percent completion percentage for Marshall.  Other than that, though, Marshall’s head coach came out of the day pleased with the triggerman of his offense as he grows both as a quarterback and as a leader.

“He’s more of a leader by example,” Gus Malzahn said of the second-year starter. “He doesn’t say a lot, but when he does, his teammates listen. …

“Our emphasis was obviously throwing the football. It was good to see our guys throwing and catching the ball in front of a crowd.”

For his part, Marshall had ominous words for what opposing defenses can expect from an offense that was run-centric in 2013 but could be adding a potent dimension for 2014.

We’re going to be a scary sight this year,” the quarterback said. “We can get real scary. We know we can run the ball. We’re just focusing on throwing the ball down the field. That’s the emphasis this year.”

In Marshall’s first year as a starter at this level of football, the Georgia transfer, by way of the JUCO ranks, played a significant role in leading the Tigers on a magical ride to the BCS title game following the 2013 season.  In two of AU’s biggest games of the season — the Kick-Six win over Alabama in the regular-season finale and the SEC championship game win over Missouri that propelled AU to its date with Florida State — Marshall completed just over 74 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and, most importantly, zero interceptions.  Not only that, but Marshall rushed for 200 yards and a pair of scores for good measure in those huge wins.

Of course, Marshall then proceeded to put up arguably his worst performance of the year against the best defense he faced, barely completing 50 percent of his passes and throwing a pick in what was still just a three-point loss to the Seminoles.

Coming off that inaugural starting campaign, AU coaches have done nothing but privately rave about the work Marshall has put in to improve himself this offseason.

Yes, it’s the spring and, yes, the spring game specifically is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage with fans in attendance.  Marshall has shown the desire to improve as a player, and those results showed themselves this afternoon.  How that all plays out when the real footballs start flying in a handful of months, though, remains to be seen.

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11 Responses to “Confident Nick Marshall dazzles as Auburn exits spring”
  1. ebrownwareagle says: Apr 19, 2014 9:10 PM

    WAR DAMN EAGLE!!

  2. jimmy53 says: Apr 19, 2014 9:30 PM

    His true progress won’t be gauged until he plays against a defense that isn’t as supremely suspect as AU’s.

  3. liverpoolred04 says: Apr 19, 2014 9:49 PM

    You’re an idiot Jimmy, he’s already proven himself a year in the SEC, he can only get better

  4. wde2010 says: Apr 19, 2014 10:13 PM

    I’ll agree. He proved today his passing has improved if you only believe it from the standpoint that he’s not just looking for Sammie Coates as his only deep threat receiver. And he’s hitting those intermidiate targets.

  5. mcjon22 says: Apr 20, 2014 1:33 AM

    January 6, 2014

    21-3 in the first half…

    34-31 when it mattered most…

    War Damn Eagle tasted like chicken.

    SEC tears washed it down.

  6. erockfox says: Apr 20, 2014 7:15 AM

    In my opinion, your quarterback should never have a “stellar” spring game. That means your defense is BAD. With the SEC having overall piss-poor defense in 2013, it’s not a good sign for Auburn.

    War Damn Eagle? More like War Damn Defense Needs to Figure Out How To Tackle.

  7. wde2010 says: Apr 20, 2014 8:58 AM

    The Eagle may taste like chicken, but remember we have a great big ole’ Tiger that loves red meat and elephants! WDE! 🐅🐅💯

  8. wde2010 says: Apr 20, 2014 9:14 AM

    People just slay me, we played our second and third string defense against the first, to let our coaches evaluate the player’s. We also had some injures that we didn’t want to take a chance on.I guarantee we’ll be ready for SEC action. Our defense is just fine.WDE!

    I can’t believe I’m trying to explain this to an ignorant Bama fan!

  9. jimmy53 says: Apr 20, 2014 11:18 AM

    Don’t be a homer—I didn’t say he was a bad QB last year, I inferred that he was not a good passer, which anyone with two eyes and a tiny bit of knowledge could see. He ran that gimmick offense extremely well—I’ll have to say gimmick until it succeeds for more than one year on a big stage.

    Don’t be a homer part II: calling AU’s defense last year suspect is a compliment to what they actually fielded at times.

    AU shocked the world last year and came so close to hoisting the trophy, but they weren’t perfect for god’s sake —take off the rose colored glasses.

  10. Deb says: Apr 20, 2014 3:19 PM

    Nick Marshall? I was sort of hoping he’d go out early (real early) for the draft :D

  11. gatiger says: Apr 20, 2014 5:57 PM

    I’m really excited about our receivers. They look very much improved.

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