Jan. 1, 2014
Nick Marshall has thrown 12 touchdown passes and five interceptions in his first Auburn season (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – One time in 13 games, Auburn’s running attack has been stymied, putting the burden on the shoulders of quarterback Nick Marshall. And Marshall answered loudly and clearly.
On Sept. 14, in the season’s third game against Mississippi State, the Tigers managed just 120 yards on 36 rushes. It was the only time this season they failed to score a rushing touchdown. Marshall’s response? He completed 23-of-34 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns. With no timeouts, he led an 88-yard drive in the final 1:56 and hit C.J. Uzomah with the winning 10-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds left.
A week later, the Tigers ran for 213 yards in suffering their only loss, 35-21 at LSU. Since then, they have not rushed for fewer 296 yards in a game. They have been had 323 yards or more five times and 422 yards or more four time over 500 yards twice.
There is little doubt the No. 2 Tigers (12-1) will try to do the same Monday when they play No. 1 Florida State (13-0) in the BCS Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. But offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says no one should be deceived. If Marshall needs to throw, he can throw.
“I’m telling you Nick has great arm ability,” Lashlee said. “He can make the deep throw. He can throw on the move and make plays. I think you are seeing each time he gets a little better."
After spending his freshman year playing cornerback at Georgia, Marshall had a spectacular season running and throwing at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. He arrived at Auburn last summer and won a four-way battle for the starting job.
“The strides he’s made from the first game when he dropped the first snap to the championship game are a great tribute to him and his work ethic and his ability to be coachable,” Lashlee said.
Marshall has contributed mightily to Auburn’s running game, displaying magician-like ball-handling on the zone read and running for 1023 yards on 156 carries. Through the air, he is 128-212 for 60.4 percent with just five interceptions. He has thrown for 1759 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn says there’ll be no hesitation to call on Marshall to throw if needed.
“He can throw the ball,” Malzahn said. “He can improve and will improve, but he can throw it. He’s shown that.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: