March 20, 2014
Nick Marshall is on the go, and now in his second season at Auburn (USA Today photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- The stage wasn't too big for Nick Marshall last season. He led Auburn to the SEC championship and the BCS title game in his first year as the Tigers' quarterback.
What can he do for an encore? Nobody's saying, but offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee likes Marshall's demeanor and the promise of an extended passing game after two days of spring practice.
"He's always been a leader by example," Lashlee said Thursday. "Our guys want to follow him. That was evident last fall camp…they were drawn to him."
Now, after two spring practices, the spring practice he never had last season, Lashlee says Marshall has "been more vocal than he was last year, in a positive way. When things are good, when things are bad, whether he needs to encourage other people, whether he needs to get on them and motivate them, I think he's already starting to show signs of that.
"I feel like Nick has had a real calmness about him and a confidence, not from his ability, from just knowing the plays and the reads and where to go with the ball.
"Now it’s all about executing."
Marshall did well last year, too, thank you very much. He rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns and hit 142-of-239 passes for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"Our expectations are for our completion percentage to go way up, our execution level to go way up, because I think more so now it’s not trying to learn on the go and still play well," Lashlee said.
Lashlee says Marshall's passing numbers can improve.
"I think he's got the talent. He cares about it; it matters to him," Lashlee said. "He's got really live arm, he's got good arm talent."
Lashlee was asked if Marshall could graduate to the NFL.
"Oh, I think without question," he said.
Marshall missed all of spring last year. The then-junior college transfer showed up for fall ball and was named the starter after a few weeks of practice. Marshall can play catch-up on the finer points of the game.
"What it allows us to do as coaches is get things in quicker, get our base offense in quicker, and then build on those things and maybe take it to another level," Lashlee said. "Maybe there are some things in our system we could do to add value to what we already do."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine